Digital Storytelling: A contemporary twist on a traditional projective exercise

From the desk of Chris Efken

We all have stories. Some we feel comfortable sharing with the world. Others we share only with close friends. Stories are compelling because they serve as windows to the soul. And because they are more engaging and personally relevant, others’ stories tend to stay with us far longer than mere facts and figures. Perhaps that’s why storytelling or story sharing is one of today’s hottest marketing trends.

As marketers we learn so much from our users’ stories. Yet, often consumers struggle to articulate their thoughts, paint detailed pictures of their journeys and/or reveal disappointments, frustrations or setbacks. To help them overcome these challenges, I’ve learned it’s best to get a little creative, give participants an opportunity to have a little fun and set a lighter, more engaging tone making for a more productive project. I simply find an app that lets their photos and video do the talking.

Here are three of my favorites apps:

1. My preferred storytelling app is Steller. Steller is stellar because it lets users piece together visual stories comprised of the photos and videos currently on their iPhones. Using the app’s various cropping tools, headers and classic fonts, participants can create visual journals that reflect their feelings and personality. Some agencies have found Steller to be such a great storytelling app that they have used it to aid in selecting the best candidates to hire as interns.

2. Pic Collage is a digital collage tool that allows participants to create story collages directly from their smartphones or tablets, using their own personal photos or stock photos from the Internet.

3. Lastly, Skitch is another wonderful app that I use to help understand consumers’ stories of frustration. With Skitch, participants can snap a photo and then use the app’s simple mark-up tools to indicate where they encounter frustration or “points of pain” in, for example, their daily routines, shopping excursions or when using a product.

Though projective exercises are not new to research, these apps offer a digital twist on a traditional projective exercise that makes consumers’ stories more fun, creative and engaging for participants and far more insightful for researchers and marketers.