When you hear the term, Digital Storytelling, do you immediately consider Social Media? It’s fair to assume because digital and social media are so entwined with one another these days, but how do you tend to use Social Media?

If you take a platform like Twitter for instance, maybe you share a lot of links to the blog posts you write and from others you like. On Facebook, maybe you like and share the statuses you enjoy, and again promote your own content and that which takes your fancy.

Not only is this okay to do, it’s a vital part of the social media experience. I do it. You do it. We all do it.

But when it comes to digital storytelling this isn’t what you should do, because the whole point is to share stories. It’s a way to share your story. It’s a way to involve other people in your story, and Digital Storytelling is something most of us can benefit from. After all, how much time do you spend online already? How much time does your audience?

You’re already on there, and so are they. You may as well use it to your advantage.

But how do you use something as important and everyday as social media in your digital storytelling? Well, it comes down to a single and rather simple word…


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SOCIAL MEDIA & THE ART OF NARRATIVE

If we take a peek at the definition of narrative, it says:

A narrative or story is any report of connected events, actual or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images.

Narrative and storytelling go hand-in-hand, so when we discuss digital storytelling it should play an important role. Including narrative in your website is easy. In your online advertising and such, pretty easy to achieve, too. But in social media, when you spend so much time retweeting, pinning, liking, and the like… ?

Narrative and social media don’t go hand-in-hand, and to prove this I ask you to look at your Twitter or Facebook feed and see if people are sharing stories – not the stories behind the links (articles, videos, etc…) but the actual statuses themselves.

If you look at your own feed, do you share your story or simply link to it via blog posts, videos, and what-not?

I know I’m guilty of this, but if you want to involve social media in your digital storytelling, it’s imperative to incorporate narrative and actually use storytelling to your advantage. Otherwise you become part of the social media white noise, which is why you turn to brand and digital storytelling in the first place – because you’re fed up of looking and sounding and acting like everyone else.

You wish to embrace YOU, so why wouldn’t you do this on a powerful medium like Social Media (be it Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest…)?!?!?

How to Use Social Media in Your Digital Storytelling
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn


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IT’S A MINDSET – NOT A SKILL

I don’t think bringing narrative into your social media requires a skill, rather a simple mindset. You don’t need a degree or to take a course, and there isn’t a flat-pack method or tick list. Because we’re talking about your story here, and the way you showcase your digital storytelling needs to reflect who you are and only who you are.

As such, it differs from me and the person next to you, and what works for myself may not work for you.

But let’s revisit the definition of narrative:

narrative or story is any report of connected events, actual or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images.

A report of connected events presented in a sequence of words or images… AKA: YOUR sequence of events presented in YOUR voice and through YOUR words and images et al…

I feel social media plays a massive role in your digital storytelling, but I fear you use it (I include myself in this) all wrong. It’s not to say you shouldn’t share links to your own content, or that of others, or have conversations and dialogue with another person, but a conversation doesn’t mean you’re sharing a narrative.

It just means you’re having a conversation. It’s a great use of social media, but does it have a positive impact on your digital storytelling… ?

So I suppose the real question is, how do you use social media in your digital storytelling? How do you incorporate narrative in your tweets and statuses and pins? How do you make an impact with something you already use each and every day?

How to Use Social Media in Your Digital Storytelling
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Buffer
  • LinkedIn


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VISUAL NARRATIVE IN YOUR DIGITAL STORYTELLING

We often link story and narrative to written words, because we grew up with books so it’s a fair association to form. But in this day and age, visual splashes play such an important role in your story – especially digital storytelling where time and instantaneity is of a premium.

I’m saying this as a writer, and don’t do so lightly. I adore the written word, but in a digital storytelling setting it isn’t always the way to go.

On Social Media… imagery rules the roost (be it in image, gif, video, or slideshow form).

You have the power to use visual narratives on social media, and to an extent I guess you already do – but probably don’t know it or appreciate it. When you share a graphic or video that summarises/promotes a blog post, this isn’t narrative. But when you share a selfie or plate of food, this is… at least, it has the power to be.

Remember the definition of narrative:

narrative or story is any report of connected events, actual or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images.

It’s about you connecting your story’s events in a sequence for your audience to devour. You can use words, but on social media they may get lost (plus, words take time out of your day to write). Whereas images and videos are instant and spontaneous, but only if they’re REAL and actually share your story – rather than link to where it’s posted elsewhere.


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SOCIAL MEDIA & YOUR DIGITAL STORYTELLING

I’m not telling you to stop sharing links to your blog post or those of others. This does play a part in your digital storytelling, but it’s another form of promotion, so if this is all you do you’ll fast become part of the white noise and chaos.

Whereas if you use social media to share a genuine narrative about your story, good shizz occurs. I believe visuals are the easiest, fastest, and most effective way to achieve this, and you already do so without even realising.

Selfies… images of food… a picture of your cat… a snapshot of your desk… these are the types of visuals that tell a narrative and play a genuine part in your digital storytelling, BUT only if you’re conscious about that you’re bloody doing.

Because if all you do is share selfies and images of food each day, and none of this has any meaning or purpose, then what the hell are you doing? Is this really part of your story? Are you really enhancing your digital storytelling prowess?

If you want good examples of people and brands who use social media to tell actual narratives, look no further than those of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter fame. Folk like: Jen Selter, Zach King, or Thomas Sanders.

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I’m not saying you should strive for Youtube fame, but the point is to use social media platforms to create and share narratives that enhance your digital storytelling – rather than use them to share what you do elsewhere.

And again, I’m rubbish at this. It’s something I must improve upon, because why am I on Twitter and Facebook otherwise? If they don’t play genuine roles in my digital storytelling, what’s the point?

So before we leave this rocking little post, let me ask you:

What role does social media play in your own digital storytelling? What role would you like it to play?

Embrace narrative and see what happens. In the meantime be sure to ask your questions and share your thoughts with me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER. It’s where I like to continue cool conversations, which isn’t narrative but still a good use of social media.

TURNDOG

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