Storytelling is one of the most effective tactics marketers can use to build trust and drive action. The power, and growing popularity, of telling compelling stories is clear from the fact that:
- 500 million people use Instagram Stories on a daily basis (Statista)
- 57% of US consumers have listened to podcasts, a key storytelling channel (Statista)
- Consumers who are exposed to brand stories describe the brand in much more positive terms and are prepared to pay more for the product (Journal of Brand Management)
But what does “storytelling” actually look like in practice? And how can we leverage video storytelling to engage our target audience?
Viddyoze provides an online video tool that’s helped more than 140,000 happy customers to turn their bright new ideas into stunning videos in minutes, so we feel pretty well-placed to answer those questions!
Ready? Then let’s get into it…
- What Is Video Storytelling?
- Video Content Ideas Which Embrace Storytelling
- Videography Essentials To Capture The Best Content
- Video Storytelling Templates
- On-camera Techniques For You To Engage Your Audience
- How To Use Video To Tell Your Story On Social Media
- Examples Of Great Story Focused Videos
What Is Video Storytelling?
Video storytelling is a content marketing tactic that communicates the story behind a brand, company, or product through video. “Story” is the key word here. Rather than sounding like a sales pitch, video storytelling uses a clear narrative to describe the viewer’s pain points and offer a clear solution.
Video Content Ideas Which Embrace Storytelling
Demonstrate The Problems Your Products or Services Solve
If the primary goal of your storytelling videos is to sell something, the best way to achieve that is to show your product or service in action.
Don’t just tell the viewer how amazing you are; show how people like them are using the “thing” you sell to overcome a key pain point or achieve a common objective.
Remember, consumers don’t buy products, they buy solutions to problems. Creating a video which showcases your product (or service) as the solution to a common problem your target audience encounters will be much more memorable and impactful to them.
Tell Your Brand Story
Particularly among younger demographics, consumers favor brands that appear to share their worldview.
Research from 5WPR reveals that 83% of Millennials believe it’s “important” to buy from brands that align with their values, while 65% have boycotted a company they’ve previously bought from because of a stance over a specific issue.
So if your brand was founded on an emotion-provoking purpose, you could improve audience engagement and loyalty by communicating it through video.
Alternatively, if you partner with a climate change charity or a social justice advocacy organization, use video storytelling ads to highlight their mission and your efforts to support it.
Create Thought Leadership Content
Decision-makers can’t get enough of thought leadership content, with LinkedIn research revealing most consume it for at least one hour a week.
No wonder, then, that 53% of marketers are placing greater focus on thought leadership in their content marketing strategies.
Video stories are the ideal format for memorable, impactful thought leadership. Use them to weigh in on trending topics or create educational videos that answer common problems.
But bear in mind that LinkedIn’s study also found decision-makers only gain value from about half the thought leadership they consume. That means there’s a lot of bad thought leadership out there.
The key to nailing thought leadership in video storytelling is to move beyond simply explaining a problem by providing actionable, solution-oriented advice. Done well, it’s an excellent way to build an audience.
Videography Essentials To Capture The Best Content
Prepare By Storyboarding Your Video
Engaging story structures don’t just come about by chance — they require serious planning.
And one of the most important steps in the planning process is to prepare a storyboard: a visual representation that uses individual panels to communicate the various steps in your narrative.
Not only is it an effective way to flesh out your video story, but it also makes life much easier for the production team, allowing them to turn up for the shoot with a clear idea of the shots they’re going to capture.
Inevitably, that leads to better results than forcing the film crew to make things up on the fly.
Improve Your Composition With The Rule of Thirds
The so-called Rule of Thirds is a guideline for visual artists and designers that breaks an image into thirds, horizontally and vertically, to leave nine equal parts.
According to the theory, key elements of your video should be positioned along those gridlines, or at the points where the four lines intersect.
It’s not a hard-and-fast rule. If you don’t follow it to the letter, that doesn’t mean you’ve produced a guaranteed flop.
At the same time, you definitely shouldn’t ignore the Rule of Thirds, because it encourages you to think about what else is happening in the frame beyond your subject.
It also helps you create visual storytelling that’s pleasing to the eye. Sure, you’re (probably) not trying to win an Academy Award here. But if your aesthetic ambitions are a little higher than “low-budget infommercial”, you don’t want your entire video to be a front-on shot of your subject in the dead center of the screen.
Always shoot your video in landscape (i.e. horizontally), unless you’re creating native video for a single platform with a vertical layout (like Instagram Stories or TikTok).
Record With As Many Cameras As Possible
Visual storytelling is meant to be engaging.
But single camera shots are, frankly, pretty boring.
With a single camera, it’s hard to add depth and nuance to your video story. It’s like if the entire Star Wars franchise was told from the perspective of C3PO. Sure, you might enjoy it for a while, but you’d start to zone out pretty fast.
Recording with multiple cameras allows you to capture the narrative from multiple angles, then edit between angles in the final cut. You might show a close up of two characters walking, before cutting to a long shot that shows the surrounding environment, allowing your viewers to better understand what’s going on.
If you’re going to record with multiple cameras, make sure they have all have the same resolution/output quality. It’ll shatter the immersion if you’re constantly jumping from rich high-res shots to grainy low-res in the same video.
Proper Lighting Sets The Scene
Picture a classic film noir. All those dark rooms and shadowy alleys convey a feeling of suspense and drama that perfectly aligns with the narrative.
Now imagine your typical family-friendly Disney blockbuster. It probably has plenty of bright lighting and sunny blue skys, which helps to create feelings of warmth and happiness (plot spoiler: except for when Bambi’s mom dies).
Getting the lighting right is key to the tone of your video. If you’re trying to describe how your product makes life better for your customers, you should definitely steer clear of dark, oppressive lighting.
Unless you’re shooting in the daytime in a location with guaranteed, year-round sunshine, you can’t rely on natural light to do all the work. Use artificial lighting to ensure you get what you need from your shoot.
Holding Your Gaze Makes The Editing Process Much Smoother
There’s simply no such thing as capturing too much footage.
Always record more than just the bare bones of your narrative, because you never know exactly how the whole thing will look when it it all comes together. And the last thing you want is to discover post-filming that you missed a key shot. Unless you’ve got a huge budget, you likely can’t afford to shoot it again.
This feeds into our earlier point about shooting with multiple cameras. Countless times, we’ve seen the benefits of capturing the same scenes several times and from more than one angle. You’ll likely only end up using a fraction of the footage you come away with, but it’ll give you a ton of extra options in the editing process.
Video Storytelling Templates
Trust us: planning a video, gathering the necessary equipment, and stepping in front of a camera is hard.
The amount of preparation involved can quickly become a huge drain on your time — and if you’re not detail-oriented, you risk producing a video which has no chance of inspiring your audience.
So, should you just stay in your lane and leave video to the pros?
No, because it doesn’t need to be that difficult.
Viddyoze has simplified video storytelling by creating an online tool which allows you to create perfect video content every single time.
We’ve handcrafted and uploaded more than 2,000 studio-quality video templates to our platform. We also guide you through the process of customizing each template with your own branding and imagery, so that your videos look fantastic every time.
Stop wasting your time creating videos which your audience doesn’t want to watch and start creating videos which effectively tell your story, with Viddyoze.
On-camera Techniques For You To Engage Your Audience
Practice Being Comfortable On Camera
A video camera can strike fear into the heart of even the boldest people.
No matter how confident they feel in the run-up to filming day, a lot of first-time presenters crack the second a lens is pointed in their direction. They start to ramble; they stare fixedly at the camera; they don’t know what to do with their hands. They adopt a kind of rictus grin. Honestly, it’s awful.
Give yourself a fighting chance of avoiding those rookie errors by putting in the practice at home.
Even if you’re just speaking to your iPhone camera, rehearing in your own time will help you behave more naturally and confidently when you’re recording the real thing.
For a lot of people, writing a script is the best way to focus your message. You don’t necessarily need to stick to it word-for-word, but it’ll help you communicate your key points in the best order.
Make The First 4.57 Seconds Count
One of the biggest video storytelling tips we can offer is to start with a bang.
Because your existing and new customers are busy. According to Socialbakers, the average watch time of a Facebook video is a mere 4.57 seconds, so if you don’t absolutely smash those first crucial seconds, don’t expect viewers to stick around.
Grabbing the viewer’s attention means not beginning with a fancy logo animation or an extended introduction.
In our experience, most successful videos dive straight into the content, or have the presenter verbally tell the audience what they can look forward to if they keep watching. And then dive into an amazing opening intro.
People Connect With Other People
Audiences want to see real people on screen.
They don’t necessarily expect you to be super polished and professional. It’s absolutely fine to display a little humor and personality — in fact, it’ll help you seem more relatable and engaging.
At Viddyoze, it’s pretty common for us to often leave in cuts of our presenters veering off-script or bursting out laughing during a take, because it makes for more compelling content.
The point here is that people engage with people rather than brands.
This becomes obvious when you look at the world of sports. According to YouGov, the Green Bay Packers are America’s best-known and most popular NFL franchise. Yet, at time of writing, Patrick Mahomes — rated by Morning Consult as the league’s most-liked skill position player — has twice as many Instagram followers as the franchise.
How To Use Video To Tell Your Story On Social Media
Storytelling On Instagram
Instagram is perfect for video storytelling, with videos on the platform generating up to 21% more interactions than picture posts, according to research from Quintly.
So let’s take a look at our top Instagram video storytelling tips:
Standard Instagram video posts have a limit of 10 minutes, although that rises to 60 minutes for somone verified accounts.
This video format is ideal for engaging your existing audience — people who already follow you and enjoy your content. Of Insta’s three video formats, this is the one to choose for more corporate or sales-oriented videos.
Instagram Stories vanish into the digital ether after 24 hours and are limited to 15 seconds (although you can string a longer narrative into multiple posts).
Because they’re perched right at the top of the screen, Stories are great at generating engagement. While the average engagement per post on Instagram dropped to a paltry 0.98% in 2020, interaction with Instagram Stories increased to 7.2%.
While you can do pretty much anything with Insta Stories, their fleeting nature makes them perfect for informal, behind-the-scenes content, which is great from a brand building perspective.
Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok.
Just like TikTok, it started out with a maximum length of 15 seconds per video, but has since increased that limit to 60 seconds.
Still, it pays to keep things short and snappy on Reels. Use it as a way to reach new followers with fun, bite-sized content.
Storytelling On YouTube
YouTube is far and away the most popular video platform in the US, and it’s also the world’s second-biggest search engine.
With more than 360 million people using it every day, YouTube should be the default platform for all your video content, from explainer videos to stories and everything in between.
It’s not like Instagram, with its myriad restrictions and content formats. You can post any type of video format on YouTube, and the sophistication of its algorithm means you can generate a ton of awareness by publishing content on the topics people are searching for.
In particular, we recommend using YouTube for educational thought leadership — the type of stuff that gets people interested in your content and compels them to seek out your website, blog, or socials.
Product and sales-focused videos work well, too, by converting viewers who are further down the sales funnel.
Storytelling With Ads
Now, let’s consider purpose-made video storytelling ads — paid content targeted at specific audiences, typically to drive lead generation or product sales.
We’ve already mentioned how you only get about 10 seconds to hook in your viewers. If you fail, they’ll bounce or hit “skip”. So make sure you use this time wisely and compel people to keep watching.
Targeting is another key point. All social platforms incorporate sophisticated targeting features that allow you to reach specific niches. It’s important you make best use of these features so you’re not burning budget on viewers who aren’t a good fit for your products or services.
In our experience, two types of video work best from an advertising perspective:
- Product videos
- Company culture videos
Either way, it makes sense to incorporate a strong call to action in your video — something that compels the viewer to visit your site or subscribe to your social channels. That’s particularly true for product videos, which are ultimately all about driving sales.
When it comes to video ad campaign types, we’re big fans of Google’s Video Ad Sequencing feature. It allows advertisers to target viewers with multiple videos in a pre-defined order. It’s great for telling longer stories or communicating complex subjects by breaking them down into smaller chunks. And it’s much more effective than serving someone with a single two-minute video ad that can be skipped after five seconds.
Examples Of Great Story Focused Videos
Enough theory — let’s cap things off by looking at three of our favorite narrative storytelling examples:
Fade To Black
Fade To Black is the story of Viddyoze co-founder Joey Xoto and how he bounced back from being made redundant to build a business and generate more than $30 million in sales. In many ways, it’s also our company’s brand story, but telling it from one person’s perspective makes it much more engaging than speaking as a faceless corporate entity. Remember, people buy from people!
Yeti: The Long Time
We love outdoors brand Yeti’s long-form narrative The Long Time. It’s a million miles away from a “typical” advert; it doesn’t mention a single Yeti product. But by telling the compelling story of an architect who created a baseball team in a poor Alabama community, it speaks to the importance of passion and innovation — two concepts that are central to Yeti’s brand.
LEGO: A Slimy Situation
LEGO is fortunate enough to have a product that’s instantly recognizable. It uses this to its advantage in A Slimy Situation, an animated video that places the brand front and center while still presenting an engaging narrative. It also incorporates interactive elements by inviting viewers to decide how LEGO City should be saved.
A good story is a whole lot more impactful than a content marketing strategy which simply pushes “features and benefits” product videos.
But it’s also a whole lot harder to pull off.
Anyone can list the key features of their product or service. Most can do it in a way that speaks to common pain points. But far fewer can spark emotion from viewers by telling a compelling story with a start, middle, and end.
However, Viddyoze makes the process a whole lot simpler by giving you all the resources you need to start telling engaging stories right now.