Everyone has a great story to tell. Everyone. Icons like Oprah Winfrey have built their careers around telling stories – hers and those of her audience. Companies like Nike – with their legendary “how the Swoosh logo was made” story – have built their brands on it. Products like Old Spice – with its “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign – have reached new fans because of it. Even individuals — like James Frey, the drug addict who authored A Million Little Pieces — have written memoirs and garnered great fame because of them.
It’s all about “The Story.” Always has been, regardless of industry. With the progression of social media, however, “Story” is taking on a whole new meaning, a much broader audience, and a greater level of potential and importance than ever before. Buzz Lightyear, of the Toy Story franchise, had it right: “To infinity and beyond.” What’s trending in social media has everything to do with storytelling and that’s where it’s headed: “infinity and beyond.”
Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology  has been engaged in communications – and storytelling — professionally for 35 years. He shared his insights into the future of communication during today’s IABC 2011 World Conference  session. Some pearls of wisdom to share:
- You.com: We must become our own media companies. Content creation — and publishing and sharing it — is key. (Learn more about how to draw audiences in with your content by reading “Create. Presto! You’re a Publisher” the third chapter in our free eBook, “Mastering Audience Engagement.” )
- Welcome to the “Splinternet” : Shel said, “The era of destination websites is over – not to say you don’t still need one, but in the early days, that’s all there was. With social media, now the trend is to shy away from central location of content and move more to multiple points of engagement on the fringes.” You don’t exist if your stories are not online, not just on your own website, but in other places with content you’re associated and where interested audiences are having conversations, telling their own stories, about those same topics. NOTE: We’re not talking marketing collateral and product slicks and corporate mumbo jumbo; we’re talking about stories of the people who have a tale to tell about our companies, our products…their experiences.
- Mobile Is On The Move: Shel said that consumers access content not just while in front of their computers. Rather, they find it on their tablets, smartphones and TV screens. Not only is that content made available in decentralized locations, but it also exists in multi-formats, specific to how those formats are used. ESPN’s website is a content destination; however, fans accessing ESPN via their mobile devices enter into a different experience that puts game scores front and center. Why? Because users of mobile who are also part of the ESPN audience have proven that that is the story they want when accessing it via their phone. The next 3-5 years will be all about mobile, said Shel.
- Filtering the Noise: Yes, true, there’s a lot of it. Do a Google search and thousands of results can sometimes pop up that may or may not be relevant to what you really wanted or were looking for. Quoting Clay Shirky , author of Here Comes Everybody, Shel said, “It’s Not Information Overload, It’s Filter Failure.”  Content curation is the new mandatory. Quite different from content aggregators, content curation adds filtering to its collecting, identifying and displaying of information in some logical desired context that’s relevant to the consumer.