The Art of Digital Storytelling: How to Tell the Same Story Across Social Media Channels

June 20, 2019

The Art of Digital Storytelling: How to Tell the Same Story Across Social Media Channels

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When telling your brand story online, it’s important to fit the conventions of each platform while simultaneously staying true to your brand messaging. Different social media channels (and post types within channels) all have their own features, culture, and quirks.

That’s not to say you can’t reuse and recycle across channels! Creating completely original content for each channel is neither necessary nor sustainable. It just takes some thought and planning to build posts that support your story across platforms. It’s worth it: successfully telling your brand story online builds relationships with your customers and create a sense of community around your brand.

In this post, we’ll use The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as a case study in creating and molding content that is at once on-brand and in line with existing conventions on social media.

Know Your Brand Story

To have the agility to mold your brand story across platforms, it’s first and foremost key to have a thorough knowledge of your brand and its perspective. Who is your audience? What is your brand’s personality on social media? Your brand may have the flexibility to be more casual on social media than it is on your website or print materials. As you adapt your content to the conventions and constraints of different social media post types, it’s important to hold your brand message as a guiding light in the back of your mind.

Short, Shareable Social Media Posts

A great way to connect with both existing and new customers is through the creation of bite-sized content on social media. Let’s look at some ways The Daily Show pares down a half-hour television show into still-image posts for social media.

In this Instagram post, The Daily Show takes a moment from its half-hour show and creates a paneled image in the form of storyboards or a comic strip. The team has taken existing content and boiled it down to a shareable nugget that can be enjoyed by both fans of the show and potential fans of the show.

Daily Show Paneled Image Meme

Here, The Daily Show participates in social media culture while staying true to its brand story. The popular “Distracted Boyfriend” meme is customized to correspond with a topic host Trevor Noah has been talking about that week on the show. Plus, the image is branded with a watermark logo in the upper right. By creating a sharable meme, The Daily Show can reach potential fans and drive brand awareness.

Daily Show Distracted Boyfriend Meme

In addition to reaching potential customers in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel, part of telling your story online is also creating a call-to-action. Here, The Daily Show created a graphical post perfect for Instagram, that shares the guests that will be on the show that week. This post invites users to watch the show itself.

Daily Show Guest Promo Instagram

Going Further: Expanding Your Story Online

On top of paring your story down to shareable posts, you can also use social media to build on the story. Supplemental content primarily helps maintain relationships with existing fans and creates advocates for your brand. One popular method of “bonus” content is behind-the-scenes content. Behind-the-scenes content could be any kind of peek behind the curtain: how your product is made, a conversation with the founder, or even outtakes like a screaming kid before capturing the perfect shot for your children’s brand. What’s great about BTS content is that the action is happening anyway. While creating this extra content does take some effort, the lift is much lower than something completely original.

The Daily Show takes BTS one step further with its online-only show, Between the Scenes. In the show, host Trevor Noah talks to the audience in between segments. He speaks unscripted and answers audience questions while chatting off-the-cuff. You can see the cameras and set in the shot, giving that behind-the-scenes feel. This works because Trevor is on set anyway, and the cameras are there anyway. He can also use that time to work out new ideas for his show or stand up by testing audience reactions. Between the Scenes even won an Emmy.

Between The Scenes Daily Show Instagram

Customizing Content for Different Social Media Channels

The Daily Show creates a variety of still, GIF, and video content to post across channels, often posting the same item to multiple channels. For example, a still image might be posted to Facebook and Instagram only, and a video might be posted to Facebook Watch, IGTV, and YouTube. The decision to post the same content on multiple channels doesn’t end there, however. Content must be cropped, trimmed, and otherwise edited to fit each placement.

Here, the same clip featuring comedian Ronny Chieng is posted to both YouTube and Twitter. On YouTube, the description is read after the user clicks on the video. Therefore, it’s more straightforward and written with SEO keywords in mind. For Twitter, the copy quotes a funny line from the video to encourage users to click and watch. Note that even the video title has been optimized for each channel.

Ronny Chieng - Daily Show Segment on YouTube

Ronny Chieng - Daily Show Segment on YouTube

Content may also need cropping. YouTube and Facebook Watch use horizontal video, and IGTV is primarily a vertical viewing space (though Instagram has added support for horizontal videos). To prepare the video for IGTV, it’s recommended to optimize your video for vertical viewing. What’s more, there are additional details to consider, such as creating a custom thumbnail or cover image. In order to optimize the videos for YouTube, The Daily Show created custom thumbnails for each video, and organized the content into shelves.

Daily Show Interview Clips on YouTube

Telling your story online is essentially an exercise in expanding and retracting your brand story. Your posts will likely be a combination of original, reused, and re-worked content to fit each post type. If you think strategically and plan ahead (task someone with taking those #BTS photos!) it’s possible to connect with your audience on a deeper level online. Finally, remember the details! Even if you’re sharing the same content on multiple channels, take the time to customize your copy, cropping, and cover images to ensure it looks profesh.

Need help tying your content together visually? Check out the variety of stock footage, After Effects templates and more available in our library.

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Caryn Tayeh

Caryn Tayeh is a freelance writer whose specialties include tutorials, content marketing, and video production. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading books by women she admires, researching social media trends, and tweeting about #TheBachelor.