Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn purchased that 👆 apple for $1 on ebay. They then reposted it for sale and the exact same apple sold for $102.50.
What changed? They added an element that delivered significant worth in the eye of the customer, an element that spiked the value of the object by 10250%: they added a narrative.
You must be thinking it's a matter of luck. Had it been an isolated case, one would agree. But Walker and Glenn re-sold a 100 different thrift-store kind of objects worth $128.74 for a total of $3,612.51: Storytelling was clearly an asset that enabled them to increase the perceived value of 100 different objects.
But what is Storytelling? How can one use it to create value? And why are Web Stories the most suitable format to deliver a narrative, especially on mobile?
Many communication theorists and specialists have studied Storytelling. They identified a number of archetypes of narratives that we all learn from an early age and to which we all consequently respond. We won't be going through them all here, but a couple of examples might help illustrate the subject.
One of the oldest in the books is the quest narrative. It depicts a hero on a journey to fulfill a mission. The protagonist stumbles across obstacles or challenges that must be overcome in order to progress. Along the way, there are usually "helpers" who enable the hero to reach their goal.
An example of this kind of narrative is Nike "you can't stop us" campaign. The brand plays an ode for togetherness, inspiring everyone to come together in order to overcome the obstacles the world has been globally facing. From the coronavirus pandemic to the fight for racial equality, the quest is to make the world a better place through sport.
Another classic of the Storytelling repertoire is the monster narrative. It's built around a hero overcoming a monster (that can can be symbolic) while being helped by a side-kick. This pattern allows the audience to be the protagonist in the narrative while the brand plays the role of the side-kick.
Zalando has remarkably adopted this narrative and has embodied "stereotypes" in their campaigns as the monster to be defeated. The retailer is encouraging its audience to be free and to own its identity using Zalando's help.
What these brands are trying to do through Storytelling is ultimately to create value by connecting with their audience. But how is value created through something as simple as a narrative?
Our brain looks for patterns to structure reality and to remember. And that's exactly what a good narrative is supposed to do: get imbued in our memory. The secret to building an efficient narrative is more often than not in the construction of the narrative itself. In other words if you get your "story architecture" right, you'll keep your audience engaged until the end.
Storytelling is about fashioning your message into something your audience can easily process and relate to. A good narrative is a fluent sequence of information that has been broken down into small elements. Your content doesn't have to be groundbreaking as much as it needs to be fluid, clear and simple. Walk your audience through your narrative one component at a time, and ensure their focus remains on the main subject.
60% of Web users today are Mobile. As the window to capture the viewers' attention has considerably shrunk, complex content that requires a lot of energy and focus is getting overall less and less traction. When the struggle in a narrative is not the content itself, but the format in which it is delivered, the question inevitably becomes: how can Storytelling help you deliver long and complex information without losing your audience's attention and interest?
This is where Web Stories come in. They are your natural ally in catering to your mobile audience's need for pattern and structure. As a series of vertical pages that you can tap through to go from cover to back, this format is a sequenced narrative by nature. It allows you to create an infinite number of evolving frames and to introduce different elements and components timely and fluently.
Web Stories are slowly becoming a game changer for many fields of work. Look at journalism. The readers' shorter attention span and lower interest in regular TV have pushed Media to question their classic outlets and formats. The New York Times, CNN, The Telegraph and many other major Medias are all using the Story format today to break up complex issues and deliver them page by page on their Social Media.
This Instagram Story by the New York Times is a great example of a new kind of Storytelling using Social Media's inborn format. It combines a wide range of mediums (videos, photos, testimonials and text) all treating one specific subject. Each and every page introduces a new element and sheds light on a specific subject, like Bruce's Beach is this case, from a different point of view. It is very much like a reportage that is modelled specifically for vertical screens. The sequencing helps the viewer slowly evolve in the narrative all while absorbing one piece of information at a time.
Another kind of narrative the NYT has adopted is the listicle or the guide Story model. It's an ensemble of elements that unfold one by one through mono-information pages creating a sequel of bite-sized information. This Instagram Story illustrates how to use a public bathroom during a pandemic for example. It reveals one element at every tap delivering a guide experience to the user throughout the Story.
The variety of narratives media can use to deliver their content through the Story format is endless. Whether through reportage-like content or listicles, this format is offering media outlets a new way of shaping information by narrative.
Storytelling is about telling a story as much as it is about the way you're telling a story. Whatever your content is, Web Stories can help you shape it into a format your audience will relate to. As Storytelling is what enables you to create and share emotion through a narrative, Web Stories are the ideal format to deliver your content to your users. They will help you retain your mobile audience by allowing them to absorb your message one component at a time.
Web Stories are the most fitting format to break any information down into snackable content. Invite your audience to dive into your narrative as they tap through your Web Stories' pages to slowly build up the broader picture. Create an immersive experience and keep them engaged with a content tailored to their vertical screens. Let them feel involved so that your narrative becomes, beyond content, something your viewers can understand and remember.