What's next for storytelling? 7 reasons to be cheerful in 2017


It’s been an eventful month so far for publishers. The new year has already brought us big media pivots (Medium), more fake news fury (everywhere!), new advertising formats created (Facebook) and the usual new year layoffs. Step back from the wildfire and it seems as if two clear camps are forming.

On the one side sits the big platforms. Google and Facebook already account for 85% of all new online advertising spend and soon they’ll be the source of all our mainstream media needs. On the other are the independents, championing abandoned niches and leading a renaissance of forgotten formats. Nearly everybody else is caught in a tailspin meaning it's increasingly unlikely that they'll be a middle ground in the future.

So what does this mean for startups? Here’s where I believe storytelling is going next and how you can get a head start.

1. Live

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and countless others are waiting to broadcast your next moment of inspiration as people begin to crave unique perspectives and unfiltered access over professional, polished content. Things are about to get even more interesting with Facebook Live360, offering your friends an immediate, immersive view of what’s happening. Snapchat Spectacles and live-event camera Mevo will further add to the armoury of brand managers and wannabe gonzo journalists.

2. Newsletters

The humble newsletter is making a comeback. As social platforms get noisier and mainstream coverage more negative, people will tune into a smaller number of voices. This is good news for newsletters and subscriptions. In 2016 there were an incredible 246,148,661,219 emails sent via MailChimp and for every £1 spent on a newsletter, there is a £40 return. Keep your timings regular, your content engaging, and the old newsletter will work wonders for you too.

3. GIFs

Mark my words: GIFs are going to explode in 2017. GIPHY, the world's biggest GIF database, serves more than 1 billion GIFs every single day. GIFs have now firmly moved beyond memes to capture mini-moments of culture and news, and most of the major apps now carry GIF searches. They're also increasingly effective. GIFs created as part of MTV’s music video awards campaign delivered 355m+ views; New York Fashion Week, 106m+ views. Expect GIF-only ad agencies to start popping up to serve the explosion.

What to get in on the action? Google’s updated Motion Stills app allows you to quickly overlay text to cinemagraphs, videos and GIFs. The end result is rather beautiful.


4. Audio

Last year saw a boom in branded podcasts with just about everybody jumping on the bandwagon. The worst sound like 60-minute adverts. The best add something to the communities their serve and have me hooked. Audio storytelling is set to take a big leap forward with live audio as a companion to live video. Facebook are about to show their hand, backed by a big advertising campaign. What will you broadcast?

5. VR

If you haven’t yet seen Notes on Blindness (below) or Dreams of Dalí, you must. Virtual reality is a storyteller’s dream come true. It has it all: adaptive narratives, heart-skipping realism, in-the-moment journalism. Even the UN are at it, exploring how VR can help make people relate to pressing humanitarian issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis.

6. Opportunities to collaborate

Traditional media aren’t the ones funding all this. Facebook & Co are wanting to partner with news outlets large and small, local and global, to drive innovation in storytelling. This is fantastic news if you have a vision for a better business model, verification method or reporting tool. The grand plan is that once they’ve built all this with you, you’ll never have to leave your favourite app, ever.
And finally…

7. Digital placemaking

There's never been a better time to widen your horizons and discover the world around you through immersive on-the-go storytelling.

This week I started work on my latest start-up in this space, OtherWorld. The experiment is being funded by Google and aims to deliver next generation news experiences using proximity technology, transforming people’s smartphones and wearable devices into proactive media companions.

It's very early days and new for both of us so I'll be sharing lots of learnings along the way in this newsletter.


Like No Other is a marketing & change consultancy helping visionaries create the future. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more articles on the future of marketing and business.

Stuart Goulden