Bring Your Stories to Life: Sally’s Creation Tips and Best Practices

Lucas Killcoyne


If you tuned into Brand Camp, you probably heard us say, “People don’t share ads. They share stories.” During Sally’s session, she showed us how to put that concept into practice, taking our stories are turning them into engaging videos.

Check out her full demo here and keep reading for Sally’s best practices for storytelling videos and tips for getting the most out of our new storyboards.

Identifying a story

Before you can create a storytelling video, you need to identify the story that you want to tell. Sally suggests spending some down time, such as your commute to work in the morning, considering what you’re passionate about when it comes to your business. Focusing on the types of videos that you can create before you start planning the specific content tends to open up your mind to possibilities beyond the first concept that pops into your head.

Remember, these storytelling videos aren’t meant to sell. They’re a way to communicate with your audience and endear yourself to them. The goodwill you build up creating this sort of content will pay off with brand awareness from current and potential customers alike.

As you’re working to identify what you want to say, here are some guiding principles to bear in mind that should spark a few ideas:

  • Show your expertise: If you’re an expert, what is the information you can bring to the story that few others can?
  • Lead with a big fact: This technique is especially valuable when your visual content isn’t as high quality as you’d like it to be.
  • Adapt lists to be stories: The internet loves lists. That’s well-worn territory. But a lot of the time, lists can be adapted to a more narrative format simply by taking your points and turning them into sentences.
  • Highlight your passions: What about your business resonates most with you? The qualities that excite you the most tend to translate best into marketing. Your earnest enthusiasm is infectious, and learning how to tap into it is an important skill. If you’re excited, your audience will sense it, and share in your excitement.
  • Know your audience: Cater to your immediate audience and know what works well for them—or cater to audiences that you want to reach with ads, which may have an entirely different set of interests and needs.
  • Identify what sets you apart: What makes you unique? Your personal journey? Your employees? Your groundbreaking product? Don’t sell yourself short. Every business has a different story, and every detail adds color to how your customers perceive you.
  • Check your bios: If you’re getting stuck, think about what you’d write on your About Me page or your LinkedIn page.

Once you’ve identified the story you want to tell, it helps to write it all out ahead of time. Everyone has their own creative process, but taking the time to sketch out what you need to get across by the end of the video to tell your story goes a long way toward figuring out what your most interesting points are. You may even identify a few points you can get away with not including.

Storytelling video best practices

With your plan in mind, it’s time to move on to the main event, the video creation itself! When you already know your plan of attack, this step can move a lot quicker. Consult Sally’s best practices to make sure you’re putting your best video foot forward.

  • Open with a strong visual: Hook the viewers with a powerful visual immediately. You’ll want to get their attention in the first 3 seconds, so don’t hold back with your most engaging video clips and images. Whenever possible, open with a video clip. If you don’t have one, consider capturing a boomerang or timelapse to open, or look for a stock clip.
  • Keep the hits coming: Make sure your audience stays engaged with a captivating or interesting piece of information on every single block. Keep the story flowing and don’t waste any time getting to your point.
  • Avoid informational clutter: Stick to the who, what, where, when, and why. It’s tempting to squeeze in more and more info, but be vigilant about not overwhelming the viewer.
  • Speak in your voice: Authenticity is especially important on social media, where consumers expect to see a brand’s more informal side. For more on this, check out our Brand Camp session from Day 2.
  • Get on camera, if you’re comfortable: This is another way to establish trust with your audience. Give them a chance to get to know you as  a person.
  • Let your images dictate your aspect ratio: Choose landscape or square aspect ratio based on your images and clips. Square does take up more room on social, but don’t try to force a landscape peg into a square hole. If your images are more suited to landscape, don’t feel like you have to make it square. Or, you try both and set up an A/B test!

Sally also covered how best to utilize our storyboard collection, which we’ll cover in the next section.

Approaching storyboards

It’s tempting to only consider the storyboards that pertain to your industry, but we encourage you to consider messages, designs, and formats that you think could serve as a useful starting point when creating your videos, even if don’t seem to be related to your business at first. We design our storyboards to be versatile, and the themes that we give you to start from can apply across a variety of fields.

And we practice what we preach! The video Sally created during her demo for High Street Soap started from our Real Estate Explainer Storyboard.

Here are a few more ideas to bear in mind:

  • Be clear in your message: Try to open with a, “This __ is __” statement. From the start, make the subject of your video clear as well as what you’ll be communicating about that subject.
  • Spark their curiosity: Leading with a question brings in your viewers right away and sparks their sense of curiosity.
  • Tease something to come: You want to open with a bang, but you also want to reward viewers who stick around for the whole video. Your story should have an ending!

Any questions? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Any questions?

If you have any questions for us, let us know in the comments! For access to a community of fellow video creators, join our Facebook group, the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community, by clicking the button below!