Young people and their insatiable thirst for instant gratification and authenticity often get a bad press from traditional media. As their eyes increasingly divert away from television, newspapers, magazines and contrived content in favor of online entertainment, the analogue world of our past has good reason to be rattled.
Sensationalized shows about important topics with super-fast edits and fakery often fail to address the real issues that many kids face daily. However, teens are increasingly tackling these tough conversations that young people want and need to have in their own online organic communities.
Storybooth is an online digital media platform that encourages young people to record their stories and reveal their vulnerabilities and embarrassments. Submitted stories also have a chance of being brought to life as an animated video published on the storybooth website, YouTube channel, and mobile app.
The sharing of self-inspired topics from their own lives, ranging from cyberbullying, racism, first heartbreaks, embarrassments or even first triumphs is striking a real chord with this empowered community of storytellers.
For those of you wondering how storybooth decide which of the thousands of submitted stories gets animated and turned into a viral hit, they simply need to be raw, real, authentic and take the audience somewhere.
This award-winning success story highlights how rather than underestimating younger users, we need to understand how they are inspiring and empowering each other and themselves by sharing their stories on digital platforms. Younger audiences are primarily bringing the ancient art of storytelling to life in a digital world.
Having the courage come out of hiding to share their truth in an authentic voice is something that resonates with their online community and encourages others to express their experiences too. With impressive 76.6MM total views across their Mobile App, Website and YouTube Collaborators Channels, it seems they have a sleeper hit on their hands.
We attribute this to the fact that kids are sharing their real stories, with no filter – they are authentic and organic – and others are finding comfort in them and developing stronger empathy, whether or not they’re facing the same issues. Storybooth founder, Joshua Sinel
Storybooth is on a refreshingly simple mission to empower kids through the telling of their true stories to help them feel connected, inspired, and not so alone in the world. Each animated video features the voice of the child telling their personal story and this unique approach is enabling each video to average nearly one million views.
However, it’s the high levels of engagement via likes, comments, shares, add to playlists, etc., that is an indication of the value that younger audiences are obtaining from storybooth. With over 38,000 stories submitted to date and a 5-7% average growth week over week across all videos, it should be no surprise to learn that brands are starting to take notice too.
Both brands and agencies are waking up the fact that they desperately need unique ways to engage with young audiences that feel genuine rather than intrusive. In the generation that expects content on-demand, the industry must evolve past pop up ads and engage with kids more organically.
Many brands are already beginning to leave YouTube upon discovering that their ads don’t always match the video. But storybooth is one of the few platforms for young people that offers an engagement opportunity rather than a challenge.
Forward thinking brands are also finding value in aligning themselves with their audience. Showing that a brand cares about its audience and the stories they tell could also open new ways for them to authentically connect to the younger 100% digital generations that tune out of traditional ads.
Storybooth has already produced over 70 of its unique animated shorts in only 18 months but is keen to empower millions of more kids by increasing the number of videos it creates to deliver an even greater impact. Working with professional directors, producers, and animators can be both costly and time consuming which is one of the reasons why the platform has turned to Kickstarter for a helping hand.
With a handful of Webby and Shorty awards under their belts, the platform appears to have a very bright future ahead. But, it’s the content creators who are using their unique, authentic voice to bravely tell their own story organically growing an audience of peers that deserves kudos here.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.