Change Conversations blog

3 min read

How to Use Digital Storytelling for Change

By Tara Pereira on 1/21/16 10:00 AM



Lately, I’ve been thinking about using digital storytelling for change and how we think about connecting and promoting behavior change using storytelling techniques. In the digital world, storytelling is informed by audience, tool, and style.  You always start with audience.  And then decide on the best tool for communication. Once you know your tool, you can decide on a style.


What does compelling content mean?

Let's get rid of the "compelling, engaging" language for right now and talk about what it all really means.The result of good storytelling means that a person has listened to a podcast, read an article or blog post, seen an image or watched a video or film, and it has in some way been of value to them personally. It has touched on a “pain point" or showed them something new and made them feel something. Stories can make us laugh, cry and change the way we think about our lives. 

Mission statements aren't stories

Don’t mistake your mission statement for your story. Think of your mission statement as an overarching theme.  Stories reflect the different aspects and variations of your mission statement. A mission statement isn’t one story. It is many stories. Every tweet, podcast, video, like, mention, share, reflects your mission and builds on top of what came before. Your mission statement sets the tone and acts as the center in your puzzle of content.

Communities are made of very different people

When I talk about knowing which audience you are trying to communicate with, I mean you need to clearly define and focus on one “who” in your audience. Who is the persona that best represents your ideal for this story? You need to understand them. You need to know what matters to them and what motivates them. No one story speaks to everyone. Some personas will be motivated by data and infographics, others by more emotional content.

Motivation is key

Getting people to join your cause is hard. Sustaining behavior change is harder. There is a difference between caring about an issue and caring enough to change a set behavior or participate in a cause. People care about a lot of things. But what is that tiny moment that flips the switch from having empathy for someone and actually being engaged enough to do something about it. It starts will little steps. You can’t push. You need to make that first step easy.  Motivate action and create a sense of urgency by clearly communicating what you need people to do. Make it painless for them to take the next step and then the next and then the next.


There are always new stories to show and telll. Don’t fall into the trap of sharing and producing content about the same stories from the same viewpoint. Try to imagine you are taking a visitor around for the first time.
  • What would you show them?
  • What would you discuss?
  • What interesting story would you share?

Now, how would you communicate that? In print, with a video, photography or perhaps in a podcast? Step by step, look at your nonprofit or organization with new eyes. And keep your team open to trying new tools and sharing new stories.

Photo ©Brad Pettengill Photography

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About Change Conversations

The Change Conversations blog is where changemakers find inspiration and insights on the power of mission-driven communication to create the change you want to see.


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