A Clean Slate on Consumer Storytelling

April 2015 | By Will Claflin

From visually pleasing platforms like Instagram to longer audio plays like the Serial podcast, consumers today are experiencing stories through a variety of channels. That’s good news for smart brands looking for new, creative ways to get consumers to extend their story.

Adobe recently released a new digital storytelling app specifically for iPads.  With an easy-to-use template based web design, Adobe Slate targets consumers and business professionals with average tech savviness. Things like newsletters, travel stories, photo albums and powerpoint presentations can easily be created through the app’s drag and drop photo feature and its simple text edit tools.

Cool for the average person but why should marketers care?

Slate is just one of many apps and online platforms where average consumers have the ability to create stylish content with simplicity. And, if leveraged correctly, these platforms have the potential to be powerful storytelling tools for brands. The key is figuring out which platforms will allow you to best leverage your audience’s content?

There a few things to consider before choosing.

An empty theatre does not result in a box office hit. In the promotion of Adobe Slate, the company shows users excited about creating clean, professional, and personal digital stories. It allows for easy sharing across your social channels. But, like all content, if you’re the only person engaged, you will simply be telling stories to yourself. Unless a brand encourages and helps direct its audience to create and share content, Slate is best used by people like my mother to show off her seashell collection (if she had such a collection) and was the only one proud of its existence.

Storytelling apps will only be useful for brands if they can find a base of users who have meaningful connections.  Brands can help foster these connections by inviting users from their target demo to show and tell using the platform in the form of a contest or campaign. Converse, for instance, could tap a rock community around the Chuck Taylor, or Nike Air could find a community among millennial streetwear enthusiasts. It’s those passionate and creative fans who jump at the chance to share their curated content with their peers.

The tools are getting better, more intuitive for the average user.  As brand storytellers it’s now our job to figure out how to help them help us.

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