The Art of Storytelling Through Digital Media

A peak at Kovner's Instagram feed where she shares tidbits of her life.

How do you craft a good story that engages your audience and adds value to your brand? When do you opt for short-form storytelling over long-form? Nina Kovner (@passionsquared), Chief Awesomeness Empowerer at Passion Squared, points out that much depends on which social media platform you use. “Each platform’s audience enjoys consuming content differently, so respect the platform and understand it before you craft content for it,” she says, noting that it’s also necessary to understand your followers. “Your content is your marketing, so be mindful of who your audience is, what they value and where they are.” Kovner gives the example of Doug the Pug (@itsdougthepug), whose adorable images are always captioned with a single, first-person sentence, versus Humans of New York (@humansofny), which tells a personal story about the human pictured that stretches on for several sentences and sometimes several posts—the ultimate in long-form narrative on a picture-centric platform. “Both work. It comes back to knowing your audience, your people, your story, and seeing what works for you,” assures Kovner.

Know Your audience
“Be where your clients are,” states Kovner. “For some, your audience may be predominantly on Facebook, so that would mean you want to put more energy there. For some, it’s Instagram.” Beyond simply asking your clients, free analytics tools, like Facebook Insights and Instagram Insights, can be a great way to find out what resonates with your audience. When it comes to sharing videos on different platforms, Daniel Roldan, cofounder of dR Hair Styling Co. and Matrix Educator, notes that he and his team tailor content to fit the viewing habits of users. “A lot of Facebook viewers watch videos with the sound turned off, and Instagram only allows for one-minute videos. YouTube is where we focus on long-form content with detailed steps and instructions—the more formal videos.”

Short Stories
Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories: Where is the value in something that disappears after 24 hours? “It’s exclusive, low-pressure, and rewards people who follow you most—your super fans,” Says Roldan. Kovner agrees. “We all love to go behind the scenes of our favorite brands, people and products. So, these features allow us to give our audience a deeper look into what we are about. That can deepen our relationship with them, which, at the end of the day, is the whole point of social: relationships,” she says. 

Watch What Happens Live
“Live video is the future. Live broadcasts give us what we’re craving: a more authentic and real-time experience,” Kovner declares. “If you’re looking to deepen your relationships and engagement on social media platforms, the decision is easy.” Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have live-video functionality to meet your viewers where they are. Kovner recommends taking time to craft a plan and determine your voice and vibe, and then go for it. “It may be uncomfortable at first but, like anything, practice gives us more confidence,” she says. “If delivering value to your audience on their terms matters to you, dive in, even before you’re ready.”

Live with Passion
Nina Kovner, Chief Awesomeness Empowerer at Passion Squared, goes live weekly with her Facebook and Instagram communities. She lets us in on a few tips to maximize the viewer experience.

  • Always, always, always think about the viewer experience.
  • Aim for quality. Create a space with good lighting and sound, and use a tripod or stabilizer to minimize shakiness.
  • Promote your live video on whichever platforms you are active.
  • Be engaged and gracious with your audience.
  • Invite viewers to share the live video with anyone they believe will find value in it.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be human.
  • Stay focused on the topic, and think about the value you are bringing your viewers.
  • Have at least a loose structure, with an opening, body and conclusion.
  • Consider a call to action for the audience.

Many thanks to our sponsors Redken, Pureology, Matrix, L’Oreal Professionnel, Baxter of California, Level Loyalty and Salon Centric for making this digital supplement possible.

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