storytelling 2017Storytelling is everywhere.

It seems that every brand is embracing the power of storytelling, much like they enthusiastically climbed on the social media and content marketing bandwagons. The growing interest in storytelling reflects how marketing and sales continue to evolve and, as important, how brands are scrambling to connect with consumers.

Personally, the connection with consumers is fascinating. In a world in which consumers are overwhelmed with content and social media updates, it is a huge challenge to capture their attention. People are time-strapped so convincing them to invest time with your brand is a major accomplishment.
It explains why storytelling is the belle of the ball. Stories have the power to engage, educate and entertain. If done properly, stories can break through the noise because they are authentic, relevant and reflect the needs and interests of target audiences.

This is why storytelling will gather more momentum in 2017.

As brands battle for the spotlight, developing stories is more important than ever. Brands looking to grow and succeed need stories to power their marketing, sales, onboarding and customer service. Brands that tell stories will win; brands that fail to tell stories will lose.

But the stakes are, not surprisingly, getting higher. Brands need to be more creative, agile, opportunistic and customer-centric. This will force brands to invest more in storytelling and work harder to ensure their stories are topical, interesting and deliver insight and value. Going through the motions isn’t good enough because there is already too much digital noise.

Here are some storytelling trends that I expect to happen in 2017.

The rise of the chief storytelling officer. Just as the chief marketing officer joined the C-suite, the Chief Storytelling Officer will have a seat at the table. This person will ensure brands are telling stories and that storytelling is integrated into every aspect of the business. United Airlines, for example, recently hired a chief storytelling officer. For more thoughts on the emergence of the CSO, eConsultancy defines what the job involves, while O’Dwyers looks at how Fortune 500 companies see storytelling in new and exciting ways.

New and different types of storytelling will emerge. Steve Fund, chief marketing officer with Intel, talks about how the world is ready for stories that don’t have to be told in 30 seconds or less. Intel believes so much in the power of storytelling, it created an internal agency, Agency Inside, to drive its creative and content activities.

More brands will encourage customers to tell their stories. While brand storytelling is powerful, customers telling stories about their experiences with products is more impactful. These stories ooze with authenticity and believability because they reflect real-world experiences. Brands such as Airbnb and GoPro excel at customer-driven storytelling. GoPro does a particularly good job of making it easy for customers to put the spotlight on their videos, and then it curates the best ones.

Videos will become even more important. Visual storytelling is making words less important. People want to consume information easily so photos, graphics, and videos are the way to meet expectations. Video, particularly short-form video, will be an efficient way for small and large brands to connect with consumers looking for quick hits. The technology in smartphones makes high-quality video creation accessible to everyone. Note: Check out Ernesto Olivares’ post on the 10 simple rules for visual storytelling.

Virtual reality storytelling will start to emerge. As brands seek new ways to deliver content, they will explore and embrace VR. Intel’s Steve Fund said Intel is pursuing a type of VR called “Merged Reality” in which it mixes physical and virtual environments. He said Intel will open a production studio dedicated to creating new forms of content using technology such as VR, drones, and depth-sensing cameras. This year, he expects VR content to appear in TV ads and experiential marketing.

How do you think storytelling will evolve in 2017?

More: For additional thoughts on storytelling trends, check out Echo Stories’ recent blog post.

I recently created a new (and free!) video training course called Story Spark, which helps you deliver a better, smarter and clearer answer to “So, what do you do?”.