Draft Digital Storytelling Platform Assessment


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An overview of digital storytelling platforms highlights some of their strengths, weaknesses, and organizations using these tools effectively. This report is a primer for the Digital Storytelling project spearheaded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Draft Digital Storytelling Platform Assessment

  2. EMAIL 13
  3. EMAIL The Basics. Despite feeling a bit like “old media,” email is still an essential tool for storytelling and driving people to take action. Sending emails is an effective way to capture attention and maintain engagement, especially among people who are not regular visitors to an organization’s website. It’s a valuable tool for engaging people for activities such as event organizing or volunteer mobilization—and it remains the most effective digital tool for direct fundraising. To be effective, email must be deployed alongside an effective CMS platform that allows users to easily click-through to a landing page in response to an engaging “ask.” ! Trends. Changes in the “culture of the inbox”—how people view and use their email platforms—are dramatically changing the rules of email marketing. Platform enhancements like Gmail tabs and image caching are adding new dimensions to the user experience. There is some evidence that younger cohorts prefer tailored “inboxes” for email communications. ! Insight. Communicators will need to monitor changes in user behavior and experiment with new features to continue to best leverage email as a meaningful way of engaging audiences. General features and functions are very similar among different email platforms, but choosing the best platform can be a complex decision because there is a range of features available to meet different needs of different organizations. 14
  4. PROS CONS ! Direct. Email provides direct contact between an organization and individuals in its community. ! Effective at driving engagement. Excellent for driving people to take action in response to specific asks—when linked to an effective landing page. ! Targeting. Email allows for virtually unlimited segmentation of contact lists according to user interests, depending on the system used and data collected. ! ! ! ! Low open rates. The sheer volume of email people receive, along with the tendency for people to change email services over time, decreases open rates. ! ! EMAIL 15
  6. SOCIAL MEDIA Platforms evaluated: Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | LinkedIn ! The Basics. Social media platforms enable organizations to connect with people, share intimate stories, create conversations—or, more frequently, enter ongoing conversations—and build ever-expanding communities of people who share common interests. Social media is a dynamic, real-time medium that leverages the power of networks to disseminate content, with the expectation that audience members will contribute content and engage in dialogue. ! Trends. Research shows that people most frequently look to people in their social networks as sources of ideas and information—more than they look to traditional news and advertising. The instantaneous, interactive nature of social media is dramatically altering the way people interact with organizations. People expect to be engaged in dialogue, rather than treated as passive recipients of messages. Authenticity, transparency and listening are increasingly important for organizations to establish trust. Meanwhile, social media is rapidly increasing storytelling from the front lines and giving voice to people direly affected by issues and events. ! Insight. Social media will continue to evolve with new platforms, and audiences will migrate (such as young people leaving Facebook for other platforms). NGOs who use social media should expect to continue to adapt their strategies. Effectively using social media for audience engagement requires a major investment of time and energy, and organizations need to ensure that it will advance their overall goals. 17
  7. 18 TWITTER Twitter allows for content-rich, real time updates—and the feeling of intimate conversation. Photography and videos can be shared by anyone with access to a camera or smartphone.
  8. 19 TWITTER: “QUICK, DIRTY AND REAL” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/11/why-this-shepherd-loves-twitter/281702/
  9. PROS CONS ! Instant. Enables real-time content-sharing and instant responses. ! Exposure & metrics. Content can get a high volume of exposure at low cost—which can be measured with a broad range of in-depth metrics. ! Efficient. Brevity allows for content to be sent quickly and efficiently. ! Mobile reach. High mobile user adoption allows for greater reach in rural areas via mobile phones. ! Reusable. Curation platforms such as Storify can re- purpose Twitter content to create stories and timelines. ! Restricted length. With tweets limited to only 140 characters, messages and other content must be extremely brief. ! Timing. Audiences may miss real-time updates if they are not constantly monitoring Twitter feeds. If a storyline spans multiple tweets, the audience might find it difficult to follow along. Hashtags and Storify can be used to make story lines easier to follow. TWITTER 20
  10. 21 Posts that include images are more likely to catch viewers’ eyes as they scan through their newsfeed. Audiences can easily “Like” and “Share” content on their own pages, easily expanding the reach of content. FACEBOOK Tagging or linking to partner sites can expand an organization’s visibility—as shown in this example of Doctors Without Borders linking to a PBS program that features its work. facebook.com/msf.english
  11. PROS CONS ! Chronological. Timelines make it easy to capture chronological events and allow audiences to follow major characters or themes within stories. ! Emotional. Comments, images, and likes promote human connection and more emotional engagement with content. ! Action-oriented. The ability to embed action-oriented links within posts allows people to respond quickly and easily, when moved to act. ! People-oriented. Nonprofits can link to the Facebook pages of people featured in their stories—allowing users to connect directly to the people, learn more and expand the reach of the content. ! Integrated. Linking to other sites in Facebook posts expands opportunities for audiences to engage with more content on other platforms. ! Unpredictable. Users comments can be unpredictable and inappropriate. Establishing community guidelines and curation rules can help in monitoring responses and maintaining the quality of the conversation. ! Time-consuming. Responding in real time to comments and posts requires constant monitoring and thoughtful messages, which may require additional capacity and resources. ! FACEBOOK 22
  12. 23 Allows for collections of topic- or theme-based submissions so people can search and engage with content aligned with their interests. Allows people to submit content, offering a sense of empowerment, creating a stream of crowd-sourced material, and incentivizing people to share the content with their social networks. TUMBLR oneboston.tumblr.com
  13. PROS CONS ! Community engagement. Tumblr provides an excellent medium to engage supporters by posting thank you cards, letters of gratitude, and donor recognition. ! Topic-specific. Organizations can use Tumblr to reach new audiences by creating Tumblr pages that draw connections between their work and topics of interest to Tumblr users. ! Repurposing of content. Can be used to repurpose content from an organization’s website by mirroring themes in a new medium and format, which can expose the same content to new audiences. ! ! ! Time-consuming. Adding a Tumblr blog to a social media landscape will require internal stakeholders to develop additional content. ! Young audience. The demographics of Tumblr tend to be limited to mainly teens and young adults. ! Training. Tumblr’s user interface requires additional training on the technology and upload capabilities. TUMBLR 24
  14. 25 NPR’s Instagram page hosts a variety of images and micro- campaigns that encourage social sharing around issues and events. This engages activists and broadens reach. Instagram is a photography- driven platform, which sparks conversations about images—and the people and issues featured in the photos. INSTAGRAM instagram.com/npr
  15. PROS CONS ! Vivid. Powerful images can create an emotional connection with the audience. ! Engaging. Organizations can engage followers by requesting them to share images that further story lines and support campaigns. ! Repurposing. Images posted on other platforms can be shared on Instagram, making it an easy tool for repurposing content—which can be filtered and curated by assigning a hashtag for the campaign. ! ! Limited control. Others can easily repurpose images without giving proper recognition to the original author or owner. ! Image production costs. Using Instagram as a major platform requires an investment in photography. ! Mobile-friendly content. Content must be optimized for mobile viewing, as most users access the platform through mobile devices. INSTAGRAM 26
  16. PROS CONS ! High-value audience. Linking networks of professionals in a wide range of fields, the platform offers access to an educated, affluent audience that can be leveraged for advocacy, fundraising and other purposes. ! High click-through rates. LinkedIn has proven through research to be a strong click-through destination to social platforms, blogs and websites. ! ! ! Subscription costs. Sales Navigator and Networking functionalities allow for expansion of existing networks, but these capabilities often require paid subscriptions. ! Time-consuming. Content must be high-value and developed with a professional audience in mind, tailored to promote thought leadership within a given space. Content development often requires additional time and capacity. LINKEDIN 27
  17. VIDEO & AUDIO 28
  18. VIDEO The Basics. Because video uses images, sound and movement, it can be the most captivating digital format for storytelling. People are more likely to click on videos than other content. The medium allows the audience to experience stories emotionally and connect with the people whose lives are featured, which can encourage empathy and further motivate people to take action. “Virality” can also be achieved through highly entertaining, interesting or moving content, expanding reach to new audiences and potentially gaining visibility in traditional news media. Audio technology such as podcasts are also increasingly used in storytelling. ! Trends. Pew research suggests that 7 out of 10 online adults use video sharing sites, and YouTube has 1 billion users. ! Insight. The cost barriers to producing video content continue to lower, however, as more video is being shared, it is critical that organizations develop quality videos that break through the noise and contribute to their overall goals. 29
  19. VIDEO Trends 30 Cloud-based editing allows for multiple editors to collaborate on a video project. Video content is typically available across multiple devices. Innovative tools, such as wevideo, make it easier for non-profits to develop high quality videos at a lower cost. www.wevideo.com/
  20. 31 Save the Children produced a video lasting less than two minutes to offer a new perspective on the devastating impact of the Syrian conflict on the country’s children. Depicting what would happen if the Syrian conflict were to happen in the UK helped audiences relate to the people in Syria and take action to support Save the Children. The video resulted in more than 22 million views and coverage from the New York Times, Washington Post and Huffington Post. YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGqCFXqiLTo
  21. PROS CONS ! Enormous user base. Currently there are more than 1 billion unique visits to Youtube and 6 billion hours of video watched each month on the platform. ! Branded channels. Specific “cause” and “nonprofit” channels allow organizations to connect with target audiences. ! Thematic. Themes can easily be created within channels and linked to other media channels. ! Simple & free metrics. YouTube makes it easy to track views, virality of content, and other metrics, such as watch time, audience retention, and engagement. ! Time-consuming. Maintenance of channels and creation of content require a high investment in time and training. ! Resources. The quality and consistency of video content may vary, depending on available resources. ! ! YOUTUBE 32
  22. 33 “The Hiro Effect” shares insights about the art of storytelling, the organization’s internal processes for story development and how successful the project was for their organization. ! ! Vimeo’s user base is targeted at professional storytellers—and can be used for “behind the scenes” videos, to add emotion and an additional layer to stories, the production/ creative process. http://vimeo.com/71826515 VIMEO
  23. PROS CONS ! High quality. Video can be higher quality than other options, and includes optional HD uploading and embedding options. ! Community. An Activism/Non-Profits category allows NGOs to display their stories in a professional environment—suggesting there is an existing community to leverage. ! Available tools. Vimeo provides users with a video toolkit that can be used to create higher quality videos on lower budgets. ! Cost. Costs are associated with the services. ! Limited virality. Videos typically do not have the same “virality” as they do on Youtube or Vine. ! ! VIMEO 34
  24. 35 VINE Diabetes UK teaches the “four T’s of diabetes” symptoms by describing each one briefly in this short video, allowing for very quick message delivery and sharing options for viewers. vine.co/v/b5TIXPwmn35 Vine is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short looping video clips. Video clips created with Vine have a maximum clip length of six seconds and can be shared to Vine's social network, or to other services such as Twitter and Facebook.
  25. PROS CONS ! Affordable. Uploads must be less than six seconds, making it an affordable option for users who pay for content uploads. ! Engaging. Engagement among users is a main feature of the platform, and Vine provides a much easier and more intuitive means of sharing video than other platforms. ! ! Limited availability. Currently only available for iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows. ! Time limitations. The brevity of the platform makes it difficult to convey a storyline or a call to action. ! VINE 36
  26. 37 PODBEAN McKinsey uses Podbean to add author interviews and book excerpt readings to its quarterly insights newsletter, adding another dimension for engagement with readers/listeners. Podbean is a free podcast hosting platform. http://www.podbean.com/
  27. PROS CONS ! Engaging. Can be used to add an additional layer to a story, increasing the ability for users to engage with the story and the content. ! Integrated. Integrates sound with text and visual content. Podcasts can be synced with other platforms, such as Pinterest, Storify, or Tumblr to enhance the user experience and audience reach. ! Cost. Users must buy subscriptions, at varying prices. ! Requirements. Requires HTML5 Podbean Player. ! Complex interface. User interface may be difficult for some users to navigate. ! ! PODBEAN 38
  28. CURATION 39
  29. CURATION Platforms evaluated: Flipboard | Pocket | Pinterest | Storify ! The Basics. Sharing content and participating in conversations has become an essential part of storytelling. Curation platforms help users collect and repurpose content created by multiple sources to create their own narratives. This allows organizations to engage with their audiences—and use that dialogue to advance their goals. ! Insight. The most important element of successfully utilizing curation tools for engagement is the discipline of listening to audience input and participating in community conversations. ! ! ! ! ! 40
  30. 41 UNICEF’s Child Labor Flipboard incorporates various media sources, such as CNN articles, YouTube videos, and their own content from their blog— allowing audiences to see a curated snapshot of the topic. ! Flipboard users can share or subscribe to their page and UNICEF can track the number of “Readers” and “Page Flips” for their content. FLIPBOARD Flipboard is a social networking application that allows users to aggregate and curate content from various online sources into digital magazines. https://'lipboard.com/section/child-­‐labor-­‐bv4xt5
  31. PROS CONS ! Intuitive. An intuitive user interface makes the platform easy to learn. ! Categorizable. Allows users to create chapters and virtual storybooks about specific topics. ! Customizable. Customizable drag and drop features allow users to mix and match stories with images. ! Growing user base. Currently more than 100 million users. ! FLIPBOARD 42 ! Research required. The platform is currently available as an App through Apple, Google Play, Windows Store, Blackberry World, Amazon App Store and Nook. Adding more than one app may be labor intensive. ! Steep learning curve. Although the platform has excellent tutorials and a resource section, training can be time-intensive. ! !
  32. 43 POCKET ! Pocket is an application that allows users to aggregate and save content from various online sources to access at any time from a computer, mobile phone or iPad. ! ! Internal stakeholders can use Pocket to aggregate content for Flipboards, Storify, and Glossi. ! ! ! ! Users can share, save, or like comments from any mobile device, iPad or web platform. ! ! ! ! ! getpocket.com
  33. PROS CONS ! Aggregation. Great for aggregating articles on a specific topic. ! Content management. Can assist in organizing specific content based on themes or storylines. ! May not be useful for storytelling. More conducive to workflow management than storytelling, and currently does not have many nonprofits exploring the platform. POCKET 44
  34. 45 Pinterest is a photo and video social networking platform that allows users to create and share “pinboards” that can focus on topics related interests, hobbies, causes, or events. ! ! Charity Water has developed a board on Pinterest where they pin a new photo every day with a statistic or fact relating to their cause. ! By developing an ongoing storyline, Charity Water is able to keep their audiences engaged daily with new content related to their mission, one image at a time. PINTEREST http://www.pinterest.com/charitywater/photo-­‐of-­‐the-­‐day/
  35. PROS CONS ! Reach. A channel to share videos and other content with broad audiences. ! Community. Many Pinterest boards already exist for nonprofit storytelling, which indicates a community of interest already exists for stories about international development. ! Users champion nonprofits. Many nonprofits do not have an official presence on Pinterest, but “Pinners” are sharing content related to a variety of nonprofit brands. ! ! Lack of control. An organization has little control over content. Brands that publish on Pinterest need to be flexible and understand that others can easily “repin” or republish their work. PINTEREST 46
  36. 47 The content on Storify allows for each tweet, image, or video to become it’s own shareable piece of content—and users have the option to re-share just one tweet or the entire curated storyline, based on their own preferences. Storify is a social media aggregation platform that allows users to curate content from various social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to develop timelines and stories based on that content. ! WaterAid is able to repurpose their real-time Twitter content to develop a storyline that can be shared across social media platforms. STORIFY http://storify.com/wateraid/everyoneeverywhere-­‐supporting-­‐world-­‐water-­‐day-­‐201
  37. PROS CONS ! Twitter-friendly. Ideal for aggregating Twitter chats and reposting content. ! Aggregation. Storify is a great way to aggregate similar content from many social media platforms to create a cohesive narrative. ! Sharable. Enhances the shareability of your content. ! Static. Allows users to repurpose posts and highlight real-time content in a static form. ! Control. The platform allows users to recreate events in chronological order without noise. ! Time-consuming. Storify requires internal stakeholders to aggregate content and develop story lines using content from multiple sources, which can require a significant time investment. ! STORIFY 48
  39. EXPERIMENTAL Platforms evaluated: Medium | Glossi | Tactilize | Cowbird ! The Basics. Many nonprofits wait until an innovative digital platform is adapted by a broad user base before investing time and resources into building their own presence on it. However, early adopters of “bleeding edge” technology can establish themselves as thought leaders on the platform and build a loyal fan base early on its growth—before competition for attention becomes more intense. Some early adopters find their feedback can inform and guide the direction of the technology as it develops, so that it better meet their needs. ! Insight. The platforms examined here have potential to build substantial audiences over time, but trying to predict the future of technology is notoriously problematic. Organizations interested in experimental platforms must explore them carefully and set specific, measurable goals before contributing major resources. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 50
  40. 51 MEDIUM Medium is a social networking and blogging site that focuses on collaboration and creativity through writing and storytelling. ! Medium allows stories to be found easily through its “collections”search capability. Photos and narrative content encourage readers to engage with a story—and Medium provides opportunities to link to other Medium articles, GiftCatalog, Twitter, Facebook and CMS pages, which can spread the content more broadly. https://medium.com/non-­‐pro'it-­‐picks/9b07ccbe2d5f
  41. PROS CONS ! Rewards creativity. Organic content algorithms reward creative content, not social status. ! Thought leadership opportunity. Thought leadership status can be gained through the creation of intelligent, well articulated stories. ! Flexible. User interface is automatically formatted for the medium in which it is being viewed. ! Small user base. Very few nonprofits are currently engaging on the platform—and best practices are still being developed. ! ! MEDIUM 52
  42. 53 GLOSSI Glossi’s “Flipbook”-style presentation allows Charmed for Charity to highlight their designer’s stories, missions and events within a single piece of digital content. ! Content can be easily shared through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus and Pinterest to expand reach. ! “See How It’s Made” button gives the audience insight into the creation of the Glossi Board, allowing them to connect with the creative design process. http://glossi.com/Blueprint4Style/29808-­‐charmed-­‐by-­‐charity?q=charity#
  43. PROS CONS ! Visually engaging. Platform includes the ability to create digital magazines that integrate video and images with an intuitive drag and drop template. ! ! Beta. Technology is still in beta and is invitation- only. ! ! GLOSSI 54
  44. 55 TACTILIZE The platform does not require any additional technical design skills, and provides easy to use templates tailored to specific objectives and audiences, which saves time on content creation. ! Automatically formats content to be viewed and shared on iPads and any web browser. ! To expand reach, content can be shared through various social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. ! https://www.facebook.com/Tactilize/photos/pb.221464081243729.-­‐2207520000.1395435741./509807842409350/?type=3&theater
  45. PROS CONS ! iPad oriented. Focuses on content development for brands that want to market and engage through iPad visualizations. ! Beta. Platform still in beta phase with existing company comprised of only 10 employees and a small online presence. ! ! TACTILIZE 56
  46. 57 COWBIRD Cowbird is a networking and publishing platform for storytelling that focuses on organic content and collaboration, while providing a broad range of tools for content development to its users. ! Zero Creates Possibilities uses Cowbird to tell the story about the author’s village and the history behind her non-profit efforts. ! The author’s voice is genuine and allows other authors to view, share, and comment. ! The author of this post uses imagery to captivate her audience and to promote her stories on Cowbird. Further, her images can be shared through Facebook and Twitter by other Cowbird authors. http://cowbird.com/story/68453/Zero_Creates_Possibilities/
  47. PROS CONS ! Topic-specific. Topics can help spark ideas for new content and identify new market segments that may have as yet be unexplored. ! Accessible resources. Free tools are available to help develop stories and build out digital audio and imagery. ! Community-building opportunity. The platform can assist in connecting with like-minded individuals and spark creative stories that can be dispersed through other social channels that are more established. ! Niche audience. Appeals to a very niche community and target audience. ! Skeptical of promotional content. Cowbird prides itself in being “completely supported by our citizens”—which means no corporate sponsorships or ads. Participants should be wary of this and ensure that content is genuine and sincere. ! COWBIRD 58