Love Monday #31 (Special Issue): What’s your (digital) story?

Love Monday LogoWe decided to make this Love Monday a special issue by dedicating it to one special event we attended last week. Hosted by digital marketing heavyweights Relevention, Domain7, and Jelly Marketing, Digital Storytelling workshop in Abbotsford made public digital storytelling secrets for how to effectively tell a company’s story online.

The days of the “case study” have passed. Todays’ brand audiences are leaning away from marketing-speak with its heavy emphasis on metrics and value propositions; they’re looking, instead, for a more emotional way to connect. Modern marketers are under pressure to create not just lots of content but great content – and they’re being asked to tap into the deep tradition of the “story” to make that happen.

What does it take to bring a story to life in our digital age? It all comes downs to two time-tested concepts: story and strategy. Relevention, Domain7, and Jelly Marketing each presented on their “signature strength” within the digital sphere – Research strategy, Social & PR strategy and Web strategy respectively. If you aren’t familiar with the marketing talent housed in the Fraser Valley, here’s a run down of #fvstory’s hosts and what they had to say about getting your story told in the age of digital marketing:

Research Strategy

releRelevention Marketing founder, Braden Douglas, delivered the first presentation on the back of his expertise in providing in-house research and marketing strategy to businesses with few internal marketing resources. He said that every story starts with a strategy – meaning you need to take care of your messaging philosophy way before you take to the message board. Other key points from his talk:

  • Building your brand story needs to start with the right strategy. It should evolve from what you’re trying to achieve (mission) right down to how you’ll know if you’re successful (KPIs)
  • When you craft your message, you should consider your ‘origin story’- what makes you who you are? One trend in origin stories is having an altruistic purpose – something that says “we care”
  • Ongoing content can be built out of niche areas of expertise – what are you the best at? What are your particular customers most interested in?
  • Leverage available technology to boost partnership potential
  • Think about how you’ll use stories to trigger an emotional connection. Get down to the heart of it.

Social Media & PR Strategy

jellyHead of Jelly MarketingDarian Kovacs admits thatsocial media can be a messy place – but it’s also one of the best places to show customers how honest and transparent you can be. He says brands should “go ahead and have fun with it”- even make a few mistakes. That little online ‘slip-up’ might just be the endearing trait that brings a customer back. Some other points Kovacs shared about social:

  • Social Media a great place to ‘crowdfind’ ideas on how to make your brand more accessible and appealing to your advocates. Don’t be shy about asking for feedback.
  • Any and all social media activity should be executed within the framework of a larger social media strategy. Before you head to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the rest of it, you’ve got to pin down why you’re there, where your audience lives, what your audience likes and how you’ll engage them. One of the most important parts of your digital strategy is how you will respond to harsh comments, if you face them, and how you will use them as an opportunity to get better.
  • After all, there’s no point being online if you’re not going to make it a two-way street – responding to and communicating with your readers online is a MUST.
  • Can’t forget this truth bomb either: always watch for quality over quantity – it’s hard to drink from a fire hose.

Web Strategy

domainDomain7 is on a well-publicized mission to “humanize the web” and they shared a bit about how they’re making that happen by telling emotive stories and developing fail-proof story methodologies. Kevan Gilbert, Domain7’s content strategist, said thata story is simply a journey with a strong over-arching emotional architecture. And, when we’re online, we can’t forget that all the main elements of a good ENG 101 story (plot, conflict, outcome) still matter. He said:

  • The story has to be compelling. Everystory has the ability to get bad at some point, but we can’t shy away from conflict – no conflict, no story.
  • In the digital world, it’s the network (your audience and beyond) that expands the story – set the right framework, and they’ll begin telling, re-telling and even improving your story for you.
  • Story-planning includes: generating ideas, grouping those ideas (and editing the ones that don’t fit), developing over-arching messages, creating strong a-ha moments (turning points), making sure you’ve got a proper and well-developed story arc and finally working on how you’ll bring the message to life visually.
  • Start your emotive story by telling what your character feels, what he wants, why he cannot have it now (conflict!) and what happens if he gets it.


Even though we were there to discuss digital marketing, I have to admit how much I loved the way they delivered the content in the oral storytelling tradition. A Twitter chat just wouldn’t have been able to send the same message. What I’m taking away is that the base of a great story has not changed; it’s the way we deliver and translate those stories online that makes all the difference. Oh, and I can’t forget my favourite line of the day – the story that really hit home for me – being prolific is one thing, but “being interesting still matters.”