What does “content” mean to you? Words? Pictures? Maybe videos? A lot of content creators think that way, so they silo their online communications into these types, both literally in how they appear on webpages and figuratively in terms of how they’re communicating their messages. Basically, it goes like this…Here are some words that I want to say to you, and here are some pictures that support what I’m saying to you. The problem is this is a very old school communications mentality that comes from the days of the printed page. If content creators think only in terms of words and pictures, they’re not taking advantage of the web or the devices people now use to access it.

Instead, creators should focus on telling stories – for marketers specifically, the stories of their brands or products – and then how to tell those stories using all the interactive tools at their disposal. Stop and think for a moment about the most compelling experience you’ve had online. I’m willing to bet your experience included a seamless combination of words, images, videos, animations and infographics. As you navigated the page, or moved from page to page, the story unfolded before you and kept you rapt in its message. You weren’t just exposed to it, and you didn’t merely read the words. You were affected by and engaged in the entire experience.

Oftentimes, these experiences are not from companies marketing their products…buuuuuuut…why not? Why should the New York Times be one of the only content creators that’s mastered the digital story? Why can’t marketers tell better stories about themselves and their products using all of the interactive arrows in their quivers?

Of course, brands can, should and, if they want to make an impact with their audiences, must become better digital storytellers. To be frank, other than outdated mindsets or underfunded budgets, there’s nothing keeping marketers from creating stories that captivate their audiences. After all, brands have some of the most creative thinkers, strategists and spokespeople working for them already as agency partners, and they have direct connections to web development talent. They just need to take the leap of faith to do something new, back it up with a financial commitment and challenge their content creators to step up to the plate. While the timid and old-fashioned might say this is risky because it’s unconventional, I’d raise the danger of playing it too safe when people expect more from their media experiences. Can you afford to let your brand feel boring and stale?

If not, better storytelling could be your ticket to Moderntown!

That’s my 10,000-foot view on what content and digital storytelling could mean to brands. I’d love to get into more specifics about how to make it work specifically for YOUR brand.