Video Storytelling: What It Means (And How To Nail It)

Video content is undoubtedly the darling of the digital marketing world. Even though we’re firmly in the era of YouTube, Netflix, and even Twitch, people still can’t get enough video content — and the creative freedom of the format makes it possible to entertain, engage and promote to an extent that’s brutally hard to achieve through text, imagery, or even audio.

You can get results through basic promotion, of course, using video to simply showcase products, relay expert advice, or hype upcoming events. But that’s not all you can accomplish with video. In fact, it’s even better suited to storytelling — something that brings people together and communicates emotion more strongly than anything else.

But what does video storytelling involve, and how can you make it a meaningful and effective part of your broader marketing strategy? Let’s take a look:

What does video storytelling involve?

Video storytelling, as the name makes clear, is simply using video content to communicate a story (or stories). Traditionally, stories would be exchanged through conversation, or passed on through books. Today, we have the technology to recount stories just as easily through video, using combinations of recorded footage and rendered graphics to provide rich experiences (experiences that are only going to get richer through Deepfake videos and the kind of technology underpinning Google’s Duplex project).

Because video offers both imagery and audio, it can advance an intriguing blend of old methods. You can tell a story to a video camera using the talking-head format, enrich it with overlaid text, and even use subtle visuals in the background to add meaning through visual semiotics. The creative scope is inarguably immense.

And yes, with that kind of scope comes a suitable level of challenge — but you don’t need to spend huge amounts of time and money on video storytelling, particularly if you take advantage of video freelancers capable of handling specific elements for you. Even telling a very simple story can be effective if you get the execution right.

Why video is perfect for marketing stories

Video is particularly good for making marketing stories, because promotion is chiefly about emotion, and video can establish powerful emotional pull through the smart use of music, facial expressions, cinematography, audio cues, lighting, and countless other relevant elements. Just think about the emotional impact that even a short video can have, as evidenced by this ad from Thai Good Stories:

As noted earlier, digital video is the most eye-catching content type. When someone is scrolling through their never-ending social media feed, an auto-playing video is the most likely thing to get their attention and cause them to linger for a spell.

Furthermore, video is ideal for multi-part campaigns. Instead of telling an entire story in one part, you can spread it across multiple videos, the goal being to steadily grow the audience before releasing the final (and most important) video.

Lastly, video content is incredibly easy to distribute online. You can embed it in your blog posts, share it through social media, and even feature it on product or landing pages to make a CTA more compelling (every modern sales-targeted CMS is a viable platform for this — for instance, someone using Shopify’s store-builder can get it done with EasyVideo).

How to make a compelling storytelling video

Now that we’ve clarified what video storytelling involves, and why it’s so valuable for marketing, you might be wondering how you make a good video narrative. Here are some tips:

  • Prioritize production quality. All things considered, it’s vastly cheaper and easier to record high-quality video than ever before. Often, a smartphone camera is sufficient, particularly if you’re just recording talking-head footage — but you still need to make sure that you end up with good lighting, clear audio, and smooth editing.
  • Write a script (but be flexible). It can take a long time to record even a small amount of video when it involves dialogue (as most storytelling video does), so speed things up by writing a script first. It will help prevent things from veering off on tangents. Of course, you shouldn’t feel totally stuck to the script — always leave room for creativity.
  • Keep it extremely clear. The messier you make a story, the harder it is to follow, and the less impactful it becomes. What’s the point of your story? What message is the viewer supposed to take with them? Keep reworking and editing your video until you’re happy that everything is completely clear.
  • Tastefully target emotion. As noted, emotion is vitally important, so there’s little use in making a video that feels completely dispassionate. Why would someone become invested in that? Think about which emotion would best suit your brand and drive someone to take the action you’re looking to spur, and cater the content accordingly.
  • Display your humanity. If you plan to get involved in the content, helping to tell the story, then make sure that you show some humanity. An excellent story and quality production can easily be undermined by wooden participants. Carefully consider how you want to come across. Professional? Funny? Passionate?
  • Lead to an action. One of the biggest mistakes that brands make with their video content is not making them clearly actionable. You’re not making video for the sake of it. You’re trying to achieve something, and if someone is watching your video, you have their attention. Take full advantage.

Video storytelling offers such rich rewards when done effectively that it isn’t something any ambitious brand or entrepreneur can overlook. By concentrating your efforts on telling a compelling story through video content and using it as the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy, you can drastically improve your results.

Featured image credit: Joe the Goat Farmer

Author: lscottharrell

L Scott Harrell is a startup founder and CEO of InnerJam, Inc. His work is focused on developing online projects involving personal development, community building and destination marketing.