Storytelling has been alive for centuries — perhaps dating back to the very beginning of time. From early cave painting depicting rituals to beautifully illustrated fairy tales, we’ve developed many ways over the years to keep audiences entertained and our methods of communication keep on changing.
With technology helping brands to take their consumers on a more interactive and engaging journey, the marketing process has ramped up a notch. And, as the global augmented reality market is expected to grow to a whopping $117.40 billion by 2022, as per estimates released by MarketResearch.com, immersive storytelling is expected to become increasingly powerful.
What is Immersive Storytelling?
This is not a new phenomenon, as brands and organisations have been creating a compelling experience for their audience for decades, through engaging content, interactive images and interesting videos on their websites and social media profiles.
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What is new, however, is the growing use of technology and the internet to create such experiences. So much so that the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have become inseparable from this term.
Immersive storytellers use the latest technologies to include superior-quality images, videos, sounds and games to grab audience attention and give them an immersive experience. Companies are investing heavily into giving prospective customers a near real-life look at their products. Until storytelling with the help of VR and AR becomes mainstream, it will remain extremely costly and within reach of only the biggest brands around the world.
But this could change faster than anticipated. IBM is on the verge of launching an app that allows users to immerse themselves in a virtual museum and discover lesser-known people from history. And, Facebook has already unveiled the Oculus Quest, a wireless VR headset that is scheduled to go on sale in spring 2019 for $399.
Why Immersive Storytelling?
Print media, television and the internet provide a two-dimensional experience. On the other hand, immersive storytelling gives the audience a sense of actual presence, which completely transforms the experience. Consumers become a part of the environment with the ability to react to events they encounter.
Surveys have revealed that Millennials give preference to experiences over products, according to an article in Business.com. In fact, a majority of consumers from the millennial generation spend money on experience-related purchases. This has driven the experience economy and brands are increasingly focusing on turning ordinary products into experiences.
Being bombarded with advertisements, people have learned the art of avoiding them. We seem to have developed a “built-in adblock”, says an article by ScribbleLive. Immersive storytelling offers something novel, and lets one develop unique stories and environments to attract and engage prospective customers.
Immersive storytelling puts the audience at the centre of the story, giving them a real-life, relatable experience. The feeling of being involved in the story makes it highly engaging for the audience, and this is what makes immersive storytelling more appealing for brands looking to influence and win over new customers. It provides storytellers the chance to take the consumer to any point in time, with the only limitation being imagination.
Unique lifelike scenarios can be created, leading to emotive experience. World Wildlife Fund UK has been using this to spread important messages. Immersive storytelling is being adopted by companies worldwide to provide an unparalleled and unforgettable brand experience to their consumers.
Trends in Storytelling
A blog by One Story states that around 92% of consumers want brands to make their advertisements feel like a story. People are increasingly skeptical of big promises and banner advertisements. They feel more driven to spend money on a brand’s narrative or story.
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There are a lot of mediums available today to engage and influence customers in a brand’s story. Here’s a look at some of them.
Brands need to be innovative in their digital marketing campaigns and adopt new ways to engage with consumers and deliver their message, with traditional advertising struggling in this rapidly-changing landscape. Videos continue to be a great medium to convey the story of a product or a brand to consumers.
It’s a fast-paced world and our attention span is getting shorter. Facebook and YouTube have started six seconds mini-ads to allow brands to tell a compact story to engage consumers.
Customers give high importance to transparency in everything that a brand does, from the origin of their raw materials to their employee policy. A research by Adobe and Goldsmiths states that the inability of marketeers to understand changing customer behavior is adversely impacting the performance of even leading brands.
Storytelling that maps to an environmentally and socially conscious and adventurous generation could be a great start.
Dark social refers to social sharing or product referrals that can’t be tracked by web analytics platforms. Around 70% of online referrals worldwide are generated from dark social. There has been an increase in sharing of links via private messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Snapchat, SMS and email. Businesses must use channels like Google Hangouts and Snapchat to increase engagement, share values, narratives and get feedback from customers to contribute to their storytelling.
Thanks to the social media boom, customers have several platforms to share their opinions and experiences. Most people give higher importance to advice from a peer than to advertisements in their purchasing decisions. Brands need to ensure that their products provide experiences worth sharing, encouraging more people to refer them. This can be achieved by blogger outreach or inviting influential customers to write posts for your blogs. Stories from the Airbnb Community is a great example of such customer-led storytelling.
Data Driven Storytelling
By 2020, 1.72 MB of data is estimated to be created every second for each person. Using this data, brands can gain a deep understanding of their potential customers and create targeted stories to appeal to them.
As we move into the new phase of immersive storytelling, our marketing strategies need to evolve. By engaging customers in a sensory experience that forms the centre of your brand and products story, your business has the opportunity to connect with customers like never before.
Contentworks is a content marketing agency that’s all about understanding your brand, telling your story and achieving your goals — unless you want to climb Everest. We analyse your existing content marketing efforts, strategise and create managed content marketing plans that don’t tie up your precious resources. Get Contentworks to plan an engaging and innovative social media campaign for your brand.