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What 17 Industry Leaders Think About Digital Storytelling

04/22/2013 05:18 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2013

In the past, digital storytelling was pretty simple. You created an engaging story, selected the right platform and shared it with your audience. Today, it's not that easy. A marketer is faced with new platforms coupled with a consumer base that is more digitally connected but difficult to engage.

Recently, TALK NYC's ENGAGE: The NYC Digital Storytelling Conference was held at the Standard Hotel in New York City. Speakers covered a wide-range of timely topics with an exclusive focus on digital storytelling including: best storytelling campaigns across platforms; innovation in storytelling; breakthrough case studies; new storytelling technologies and more.

I had the opportunity to speak with the industry leaders who spoke at the conference and they each shared with me their best advice when it comes to brilliant digital storytelling.

Here's what they had to say:

1 - It's About Good Stories
"Facts bounce off of people. Stories go in. But stories on their own don't cut it. You have to have a good story."
- NICK MOORE, Chief Creative Officer, Wunderman New York

2 - Make People Care
"Commercial business must evoke emotion. Find the consumer's heart. I know it's hard to find heart and emotion in today's oversaturated market, but that's exactly what a company needs to explore in order to keep the consumer/audience that they have and ultimately gain others. This will bring growth."
- TIM SMITH, Artistic Director, TOTEM Cirque Du Soleil

3 - Adjust to Different Platforms
"Figure out a way to engage consumers and figure out what your main point of distribution is going to be. Then, amplify that conversation in a way that's unique to each platform and relevant to each platform."
-KRISTIN FRANK, EVP of Connected Content Group for MTV, VH1, CMT, and Logo

4 - Polish the Content
"Every brand has a story. Start by identifying the story that's authentic to your brand. Then develop content around that story that connects your brand to the lives of your consumers. Once you've done that, you can build an effective social strategy to propagate that content."
- SABRINA CALUORI, VP of Social Media & Performance Marketing, HBO

5 - Work With the Content Creators from the Beginning
"Start early. With storytelling, you have to start at the very beginning with the creators of the content. It has to be a great story -- with characters that you can root for and characters that you would form strong opinions about."
- LISA HSIA, EVP of Digital Media, Bravo TV

6 - Keep Your Audience in Focus
"Be authentic to your brand and put people at the center. Think about why they would care and why they would share."
- ADAM BERGER, Creative Strategist, Facebook

7 - Offer Strong Images & Content
"Build the audience first. Build an audience with an image, and combine great writing with great imagery."
- NICK HOOKER, Creative Director of Content, Framestore

8 - Focus on Your Mission
"Know your mission. Know what's at the core of your company and why you were founded. Just getting a certain message out is not the mission. The mission is showing what your company truly stands for."
- TED ROYER, Chief Creative Officer, Droga5

9 - Have a Purpose
"Have a point of view and something to say first. Don't go out there and just assume that people want to hear you. Brands often make the mistake of telling people what they want to say rather than what people want to hear."
- DAVID BRYANT, Chief Creative Officer, Organic

10 - Think Like a Customer
"Get into the customer's mind. Then, think about the key features or functionality you would want in a product."
- MARISSA EVANS, CEO, GoTryItOn

11 - Make It Interactive
"Find what your customers and audience respond to. Make sure the content is exciting, interesting, and something that they really want to engage with."
- JORY BENEROFE, VP of Branding, vineyard vines

12 - Know Your Brand
"Pay attention to who your brand is. Think about what your story is and how your actions tell it. Then, let it find its appropriate media channel afterwards."
- ROB RASMUSSEN, Chief Creative Officer, Story Worldwide

13 - Choose a Medium That Fits
"Pick the right medium rather than just the one customers have on them. A lot of times people see a technology and they want to use it -- even though it might not be the right tool."
- BRIAN BALLARD, CEO, APX Labs

14 - Define Your Own Brand
"Understand who you are. You can't tell a story unless you know who you are first. You need to be able to be creative and engaging, and you need to not only know yourself but know your audience really well."
- JAMES COOPER, Editorial Director, Adweek

15 - Be Cohesive
"Stay true to the nuance and general drift of your story. Don't put
characters in places they wouldn't be in. Avoid story elements that don't
seem real."
NICK PARISH, Editorial Director of the Americas, Contagious Magazine

16 - Encourage Sharing
"Share-ability is the most important aspect. Create a story that is inherently sharable that people want to pass along to friends. If you focus on that, you will make stories that are able to travel in the social web. Quality is important. It's vital. But quality itself does not make something work on the social web."
JONATHAN PERELMAN, VP of Agency Strategy and Industry Development, BuzzFeed

17 - Must be Believable
"You have to come up with something authentic and something honest. If a story rings false to people, they aren't going to retell it."
- MIKE NIZZA, Editor, Esquire Digital