Once upon a time, online

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Once upon a time, online

Once upon a time…

Great stories are told all around us. A story can find you just about anywhere, because storytellers have been using everything from word of mouth and cave walls, to books, billboards, and airwaves for over 35 millennia.

Think about the campfire horror story that’s always stuck with you, or your favourite novel; a good story is one that sticks. Storytellers convey words, images and sounds, but the greats, the famous novelists and the campfire aficionados, know that these components are enhanced (or limited) by format.

Our hero stepped forth… 

Format is a powerful agent in all things, but a memorable story hinges on it. It’s evocative. The weight of silence, and creeping effect of the dimly-lit dark around a campfire amplify fear and the fulfillment of tension. The final page of a novel that’s commanded your time and affection carries both gratification and estrangement.

If format is gatekeeper to the promise land of influence and memory, then storytellers are tasked with minding both subject matter and format during the creation process, or reconciling the former when adjusting the latter. At the end of the day, your story must always work in concert with where it’s housed.

But then, a monster…

Shift the scene to 2017, and there are as many stories being told online as there are on paper. Journals, editorial, social media, photography, video, branding; the web has only grown in its adoption of form, but functions as a format and must be handled as such.

On the web, authority functions in the same impactful way as the campfire’s ally, silence. The effect of the dimly-lit dark is embodied by the efficient transference of information. For a story to land these elements should be observed or (even better) leveraged.

And so, he found the antidote…

Authority can be a tricky idea to capture when a sea of sites are creating content, but the crux of the sentiment is that your stories should reflect your expertise, and you. The best stories won’t always service what the audience wants to hear – and trying to give it to them lands at paper-thin variety. In the vastness of the web, it’s almost certain that your audience ‘has a person for that’ on each topic you’re anything less than an expert in.

The efficient transference of information is simpler in nature but a harder pill to swallow, particularly when the canvas is this blank. Here’s the rub: like the campfire, your audience needs a guide. A clear directive from start to finish, with clear cues and finality. Intricate sub-plots and a vast cast of characters do not a good campfire story make, and your story, from copy to overall brand, must follow the same principles or risk perishing.

The quest was now clear!

What does this mean for businesses creating, or capitalizing on a website? That depends on the story you’re telling. Consider the facets of your brand that make it unique and powerful, and how you’d transform them into a digital experience that’s concise and compact.

In the case of creating content, commit to subject-matter that’s consistent, consumable, and no less than directly in line with your expertise. Anything otherwise isn’t likely to leave its mark or reward you for your investment.

And they lived happily ever after.

The moral of the story is that brands, both personal and corporate, must adapt when being told online. Think of this mechanism, and its content, as expandable or contractible based on where the audience is consuming. Harness the power of the campfire, so to speak, and tell a version of your story that will work magic in that setting.

Adaptability is, as always, key to growth and prosperity. 

The end.