Mobile Storytelling for Brand Advocacy

Using Mobile As A Strategy for Storytelling Has Never Been More Popular

Mobile Strategy Comments (3)

One trend in mobile is the rise of storytelling using mobile devices, especially to support sales and brand advocacy.

A narrative is a powerful learning intervention because it has a lasting impact on the retention of the information embedded in the stories we hear.

This is not surprising given our long evolutionary history of using storytelling as a form of collective memory; before the invention of writing, it was the main way that humans passed on culture, history, and practices.

Dr. Paul Zak, at Claremont Graduate School, explains that storytelling changes brain chemistry, and if done effectively, can lead to strengthened relationships and acts of kindness.

Mellissa Maxwell documents how this kind of research can be turned into practical tips for producing better eLearning.

Organizations that have a core story staff can absorb and own that, will have well-trained staff because they will remember the essentials of what the organization is all about. Brand storytelling is critical for differentiation in the retail marketplace. Lydia Herrera (2013), writing in The Mobile Retail Blog, says:

Storytelling lies at the core of every successful campaign because it invests its audience in its purpose and its brand by steering clear of the superficial and creating layers of depth that appeal to a consumer’s need for authenticity in the marketplace. The record shows that purpose-driven brands that create compelling stories have yielded fantastic success. Consumers, follow the brands that speak most to who they are.

An interesting project called SignificantObjects buys inexpensive items on eBay, has a writer create a fictional story around the object, and then resells the object on eBay at a considerable profit. This shows that people will pay for engagement in stories that appeal to them.

Someone can tell stories not just in the traditional text-based narrative.

Alternative forms of storytelling include:

  1. lists,
  2. graphic novels,
  3. comics,
  4. timelines,
  5. maps,
  6. graphics,
  7. music,
  8. video, and
  9. audio narration.

They can combine these for maximum impact.

In retail, this approach is been exemplified by a store in New York City called STORY.

They organize the store like a magazine, with editorial comment, regularly changing themes and illustrations, and high involvement with the community.

Other retailers who use storytelling in their branding and store displays include Williams-Sonoma and Levi Strauss.

Levi Strauss has trained over 7,000 employees in the art of storytelling as a way of promoting their brand of clothing.

Mobile storytelling comes in different varieties, including:

  • Stories that are embedded in games in which users follow quests based on a set of missions. It can build branding into the structure of the game in a way that is effective but not obtrusive.
  • Stories that involve the local context of the mobile user as elements of the story. These are often “geofenced” events restricting involvement in the story to those in a specific location.
  • Stories in the form of a mobile video that engage the mobile user, while advocating for a set of values or brand. One of the most effective examples of storytelling is the “Back to the Start” video that tells the story of how Chipotle restaurants source their ingredients.
  • Apps that network with other media, such as films and books. Here is a great set of examples from the SayDaily blog:

“Films and books have embraced mobile, possibly more innovatively than brands. Apps like Tumbleweed and Silent History require the user to check in to specific places to unlock new content (which is a concept that lends itself perfectly to brands). An app-only film called Haunting Melissa rewards their most dedicated fans by unlocking new layers of content, like new sounds or visuals, each time an episode is re-watched. Another film, A Journal of Insomnia requires the audience to receive a phone call from one character in the story to watch it. In true insomnia fashion, the call is unscheduled but will come late at night or early in the morning.”

There are lots of resources available for mobile storytelling, to get you started.

Start with these 21 quotes collected by Ian Rhodes on SlideShare.


Business Storytelling: 21 Quotes To Inspire You To Tell Your Story from Ian Rhodes

Then, see the huge list of mobile storytelling resources from Brett Oppegaard.

Next, if you want help to develop mobile storytelling for your company, contact us at Float. We’d be happy to tell you our story and work with you on telling yours.

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Gary Woodill is a senior analyst with Float, as well as CEO of i5 Research. Gary conducts research and market analyses, as well as assessments and forecasting for emerging technologies. Gary is the co-editor of "Mastering Mobile Learning," author of “The Mobile Learning Edge,” and the co-author of “Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds.” He also presents at conferences and is the author of numerous articles and research reports on emerging learning technologies. Gary holds a doctor of education degree from the University of Toronto.

» Mobile Strategy » Mobile Storytelling for Brand Advocacy
On September 20, 2014
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3 Responses to Mobile Storytelling for Brand Advocacy

  1. Great blog! Very insightful. Telling stories with maps is something I never thought of. Thanks for linking to our blog as well!

  2. This is a very interesting perspective. Storytelling has been utilized for technology-aided learning – in the corporate scenario as well. For mobile learning as well, its strengths can be well utilized. Mobile is a great platform to reach the learner anywhere and anytime and therefore a great way to build a brand. Here are some strategies that e have employed successfully to integrate storytelling into e-learning –

  3. Rob Fuggetta says:

    I’m amazed that not a single quote from experts was about the power of customer stories.

    About 9 in 10 people trust customer stories. Only about 2 in 10 trust brand stories.

    Trying to figure out how brands can tell better stories is like trying to figure out how to improve open and click through rates.

    We need to change the discussion.

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