Digital Storytelling via Matt Erney

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Storytelling is an ancient way to connect with people, but one that’s still extremely relevant today. Digital platforms, such as websites and social media allow us to tell stories to larger audiences and create conversations with them in more ways than one. The purpose of storytelling in marketing is to attract and engage people with a brand’s message. Over the summer I attended a presentation by Matt Erney, President of The Social Firm, in Columbus Ohio for my internship. His presentation and technique for storytelling stuck with me since.

The first step towards compelling branding is to check if your website makes sense. This may seem obvious, but how will you clearly tell your story if your website doesn’t reflect your message? There’s a website called where you can find out what the first impression of your website is. The human brain is drawn to clarity. The more simple and direct your message is, the better chances your audience will engage with what you offer.

Part of compelling messaging is to have a call to action statement so they audience knows where to go to get involved. Examples of direct calls to action are “Register Now!” and “Order Here.” Transitional calls to action are seen in forms like, “Watch Video” and “Download PDF”.

If your brand is telling a story, you need to recognize that the customers are characters and you are ultimately the hero. Customers have a problem, they meet you (a guide), and your company gives them a plan, which provides them with a call to action. It’s important to know the characters in your story and each product or service being sold. This will help you know how your product/service works for solving internal and external issues with customers.

The brand is positioned as a guide to show customers that you created a solution to their problem by means of empathy and authority. This can be done through a tagline. Make sure it identifies who you are and how you’re going to help the customer. Show customers through testimonials that your brand solves problems and fills voids. Testimonials can be the characters impacted by your brand.

Erney viewed storytelling through digital marketing being a success or fail. A successful story would evoke an emotional responses which results from the external problem being solved. For example, a new vacuum led to cleaner floors which led to a clean house and a peaceful mind. So, the vacuum brand’s website needs to showcase this for consumers to understand their message and ultimately buy the product.

Digital marketing and storytelling was also topic of discussion during Brett Pulley’s presentation last Monday, so I think it’s time we begin to understand this process and how we can use bits and pieces into our own personal brand and for our professional careers. Learning storytelling skills now will definitely set you up for an advanced digital marketing understanding for future endeavors.



Rachel O’Morrow is a junior studying strategic communication, marketing and social media. Give her a follow on Twitter @rachel_omorrow.

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