Digital Harmony: The balance between technical & storytelling

I have always understood storytelling, connecting with people online and the power of   networking ie contacts!

That’s how journalists have always worked and most of us are just plain nosey!  Our contacts books always were stuffed full of emails, phone numbers and business cards. Now that tends to be all held in our smartphones.

Journalists naturally question everything. They want to know the answers to the largest and smallest questions in life. These questions lead to excellent story ideas, which will result in articles, blogs, whitepapers, guides, e-books and listicles… you name it!

From hard news to features, great journalists know how to keep the reader involved and tell a compelling story.

But, have you ever heard the line – ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?’

In journalism this is paramount. There’s great power in knowing as many people as possible, not just that, also nurturing those relationships and not giving up on them easily.

The History of Storytelling

Through oral storytelling or written storytelling, the voice of narration will always have a place and a purpose in this world. Though the mediums have changed, the core concept has remained the same – right back to prehistoric civilisations.

Storytelling was my bread and butter during my business journey. The power of the story is incredible and ancient! Back to the early days of man, we passed on knowledge through stories, told in words, songs, pictures and the spoken word.

So, it started in 30,000 BC with cave paintings and murals – we’ve probably seen these on cultural family trips – then onwards from 200 BC, think about things like the Bible, Shakespeare and the art of written word – which you still see today in the West End of London, through to 20th century magazines and mass media.

Then boom, the digital storytelling hit us and it all began in 1939 where we were introduced to TV (albeit the first one being black and white) through to videos, social media platforms and even virtual reality – a self-guided story!

Science vs Storytelling

During my career I have met many ‘techie’ marketing and business people who understand the science and mechanics of various tools like the internet and content production, but don’t understand the ‘human’ aspect of it. They think the technical aspect is the MOST IMPORTANT THING.

They will talk about links, backlinks, do follows & no follows, SEO, SEO phrases, code, algorithms and a whole multitude of stuff which is about the back brain and the functionality of the internet, websites, social media etc etc.

These people get the science, not the stories. Or maybe, they know about the stories but just care about the science. It’s almost a case of thinking it’s all about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and nothing to do with STEAM (the same but with big fat ARTS in the middle).

This is a huge mistake. BOTH are important if you ultimately want to engage, inspire, connect with, make sales to – PEOPLE.

Everyone has stories to tell – be it in conversation, content, PR, anything, and without understanding how to find a harmony between science and stories, that communication becomes disengaging, it won’t pull on any heart strings or impact their desired audience.

One of the most obvious ways in which this is played out is when a website developer asks for your content and then copies and pastes it into a website and it sits there – with no checking at all. It may read really badly and put people off, it may have multiple spelling mistakes, it may have edit notes left in, it may be as dull as ditch water. Technically it may be A grade, emotionally it may barely make a U.

However I was always on the flip side; I cared about the stories and not the science. The journalist in me has always yearned for the ‘human’ aspect of everything I do – so I’ve had to find a middle ground too! The science does matter and can make those stories work hard and be more effective.

Harmony

During lockdown, I really started to change my views and learn from those who are using both science and stories. After all, both aspects must be important if people are making life-long careers out of them. I pondered over it and had a lightbulb moment – this is what I can call Digital Harmony!

Bringing the two of these factors together is very powerful – it’s almost like connecting the science with the stories to make an impactful combination, a formula if you like.

Science + Stories = Digital Harmony = Success

Five ways Digital Harmony makes sense:

  1. Blogs are great for sharing knowledge and stories – however carefully chosen words which make sense in the context of your story allows the search engines to notice you through scientific means. We often call this SEO.
  2. Social media success relies on content AND technical elements such as hashtags, and when combined well means you can light up the internet – getting this right is the difference between being a dull light which fades in and out, and being a lighthouse which transmits!
  3. Websites are your own space where you can share your stories and they give people confidence in you – they also act as a centre of your own interweb as you have control. To operate at their best websites need to be built with brilliant technical elements. How many times have you wanted to read or look at something but lost interest because of a slow or unresponsive site? Or you click and the link is broken or takes you somewhere that doesn’t make sense? Or paying through the site is a pain? The emotion of the story is lost in the emotion of utter frustration. Getting this right is Digital Harmony and it has strong positive results.
  4. Backlinks – much loved by techies, less so by storytellers, yet they have their value. I’ve even learned that some do follow and some don’t follow, but that’s more learning to be done. It appears there are debates around these types of links. So I’ll keep watching. If you get one of these backlinks say thank you – but don’t expect it. Techies tend to expect it thinking owners of other websites will be more than happy to offer a link for some ‘link juice’. Really? Websites are personal spaces, they are not for others to assume that’s okay. I don’t allow someone to come to my home and plaster their advert on the walls of my house without a very good reason.
  5. Guest blogs – appearing somewhere else on the internet means in PR terms ‘someone else showing your value by allowing you a ‘spot’ in their inter space’ – however the science side of the internet loves it too. Take these opportunities with gusto.

Once you start to understand that these two elements can work in harmony if you treat each respect, you realise that digital marketing begins to make far more sense. They compliment each other and create an incredible outcome that reaches the right audience with the right content!

Digital Harmony is something I’m becoming increasingly passionate about and I have some very exciting new things coming your way in the new year to help you up-level your digital and storytelling skills too!