6 Trends Shaping the Future of Storytelling

From the ancient Greeks explaining the changing of the seasons through myth to your best friend conveying the awkwardness of her latest date through emojis, storytelling continues to evolve to help us connect with one another and make sense of our world. Humans are hardwired to respond to stories, making effective storytelling a key component of any successful PR or marketing strategy.  

PR and marketing professionals with a clear understanding of the mediums and messages that resonate with their target audience are well-equipped to navigate the ever-shifting media landscape. We’ve compiled a list of six trends that professional storytellers should be aware of. 

1. The Rise of the Creator Economy 

Nearly everyone has a camera phone, access to editing tools and channels to share or even monetize content. Creation’s democratization is a gift to PR and marketing professionals, offering new opportunities to engage brand advocates and glean invaluable insights into their target audience. The creator economy is estimated to be worth $100 billion by year’s end and its value is only expected to increase.  

Brands looking to tap into the creator economy can align with influencers and invite consumers to co-create stories. After all, consumers are three times more likely to consider content created by fellow consumers authentic than they are content created by brands. As creator economy influence grows, brands can expect to pay individual creators more for their work, loosen the reins when driving narratives and consider the possibility of paying users for their data. 

2. The Growth of the Metaverse 

If you are one of the millions of Pokémon Go players who wandered around their neighborhood chasing Pikachu in 2016, you’re familiar with the allure of the metaverse, an embodied Internet experience. Trips to the metaverse are becoming more common, with 25% of people projected to spend an hour in the metaverse each day by 2026. 

Platforms like Roblox make it easy for brands to venture into the metaverse, and as infrastructure improves, opportunities to interact with consumers in this arena will expand. Brands, however, need to look before they leap into the metaverse. A foray into the metaverse should be a calculated move made with consideration for legal implications, staffing bandwidth and the potential for strategic partnerships in mind. 

3. The Appeal of Multisensory Experiences 

If early 2000s Axe body spray commercials are to be believed, scent is the strongest sense tied to memory, but the sound of a Mac computer starting up and the taste of the elusive McRib are all sensory experiences that stick. Consumers respond to multisensory experiences—in retail settings, scents can drive an 11% increase in sales and a 20% increase  in satisfaction—making multisensory experiences a trend to consider baking into your branding strategy. 

Multisensory experiences should align with existing brand identity and enhance the existing customer experience. Multisensory campaigns necessitate different KPIs, so if you’re thinking of incorporating sound, scent, touch or taste into the customer experience, be prepared to update tracking and metrics accordingly. 

4. The Evolution of UX 

The rise of multisensory experiences is part of the greater evolution of user experience (UX). In addition to incorporating multisensory experiences into the user journey, brands are focusing on introducing new, less obtrusive wearables and faster wireless capabilities for seamless interactions on the go.  

The future of UX might involve zero user interaction (UI), which refers to enabling users to elicit responses by movement, glances or even thought. For now, it’s best to remove as many steps in the user journey as possible, as taking out even one step can boost conversions by as much as 26%. 

5. The Value of AI 

Artificial intelligence (AI) can often yield better insights into human behavior than people can and is fast becoming a key player in the evolution of storytelling. As AI technology grows more sophisticated and versatile, brands are using it to refine their marketing strategies. Prominent companies like IBM Watson and Lexus are harnessing AI technology to craft compelling social posts and ad copy as well as analyze content and predict audience responses. 

AI sits at the intersection of many of the trends we discuss. As the technology advances, AI can help personalize content creation, delivery and discovery while accelerating content generation, creating opportunities for collaboration and further democratizing production. 

6. Technology’s Influence on the Human Condition 

A recent Meta report revealed the average person’s attention span for a piece of content is down to 1.7 seconds on mobile and 2.5 seconds on desktop—a prime example of technology’s influence on the human condition. Storytellers have a responsibility to use technology in a way that promotes understanding and collaboration. 

As you leverage technology to advance the art of storytelling, be mindful of the ethical and societal implications of media trends. The last thing you want to do is contribute to the disinformation ecosystem that continues to devolve and divide. 

The Stories We’ll Tell 

The future of storytelling is collaborative, immersive, intuitive and it’s starting right now. Communicators with a firm understanding of the forces shaping storytelling’s evolution will gain control of the narrative. 

By Alannah Dragonetti

*Insights and data are drawn from the October 2022 Content Marketing Institute webinar, “The Future of Storymaking.” 

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