Digital Is About People, Not Technology


talking

Forget technology — it’s still all about people participation.

That was the key takeaway from the different presentations at Wednesday’s Engage: The NYC Digital Storytelling Conference, held here at The Standard Hotel.

The focus of the program was about how companies can use digital for their brand positioning, but the criticism that came up repeatedly was that firms are too focused on the technology surrounding digital when they should be focusing on engaging their audience in a dialogue.

Mike Monello, cofounder and chief creative officer at marketing agency Campfire NYC that specializes in participatory storytelling, told attendees, “The best stories aren’t locked down to a media format.”

He explained that as storytelling moved from the oral tradition to books and other mediums, what was lost was participation. “The Internet brings participation back…That’s huge,” he said.

One mistake some firms are making is using traditional media to fit the digital format. Instead, companies should think more about creating a communal experience. Firms need to “fan the communities that exist because people want to communicate with each other. It’s less about the digital story than we think,” he said. When you bring communities together, you’re deepening the reaction to the brand, he advised.

Monello also spoke about needing different layers of experience to address the three major audience participants: Skimmers are the broadest group, and are the least engaged; dippers are interested and may participate in the discussion, and divers, though the smallest group, are the most active participants and through their activity generate the interest in the other groups to create the overall “buzz” for the brand.

Another key Monello zeroed in on is the concept of story giving versus storytelling, or creating a story to tell that in turn creates an experience that enables the participants to become the storytellers. “Telling implies a linear narrative. It’s the old way of thinking. Story giving can apply to any digital format,” he concluded.

Adam Berger, the creative strategist at Facebook, said, “Storytelling as a medium we don’t think will change that much. When and how you tell the story will change.”

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