I love content creation tools that put wizard wands into the hands of Muggles.
Instagram did this for photos, allowing mere mortals like me to create and share photos that were beautiful and expressive. Vine allows us to elegantly create short, 6-second videos through an intuitive interface. Takes is another neat mobile tool I particularly love for the way it effortlessly creates video by capturing the context around still photos. And now Disney has created a branded tool called Story that allows any of us (well, anyone with an iPhone) to effortlessly tell and share annotated narratives. Think of it like creating a mini scrapbook with a pulse.
What it does: Story allows you to organize new or existing photos and videos from your iPhone into sharable digital flip books. You can also add captions, text, and play with various themes and layouts. (But no filters. Guessing that’ll come later.) The album is private until you share it (via Facebook or email for now — I’m guessing more sharing platforms will come later as well). Your Story is also saved in iCloud — allowing you to sync it to other Apple devices.
Here was my first attempt at creating a Story, based on a recent trip to London:
Why it’s dumb-brilliant: A lot of other photo-management tools allow you to create organized albums. But what’s cool about the Disney Story app is the wizard-inspired part of it: The way it auto-magically suggests an organization for your photos and videos based on the time and geo-location of the videos on your phone. And then (of course) the way you can add or edit the grouping it suggests. You can also re-order, edit and zoom photos within the app (with some constraints).
And speaking of constraints, that’s the primary reason Story is dumb-brilliant: It forces content creators to “Keep It Tight,” as my friend Tim Washer and I espouse. It bans bloat by not allowing stories… err, Stories… a single gasp of oxygen beyond 20 photos and two short videos. (Although you can add as many pages of text as you want. Frankly, I’d change that.) In other words, it constrains you to distill the essence of your story into something that respects your audience’s time.
Why I’m bothering to write about it: I am a bit of a sucker for content creation tools that are intuitive, flexible, foolproof and simple (IFFS? SIFF? Must work on an acronym there….)
But I especially love Story because it’s a content marketing play that comes as the best form of content marketing: It’s a great example of a brand that takes itself out of the story and places its audience in it — actually, at the very heart of it. It’s a great example of building an audience by supplying them with tools that speak to their needs: Tools they can use.
Disney could’ve created a video that shows happy families bouncing down Main Street USA (and they have). Disney could’ve created a video app that superimposes a Disney backdrop on all the Story videos you create. But the better, smarter content marketing effort in 2013 isn’t that brand-centric and brand-arrogant.
Story is fundamentally a great example of what I’ll be talking about this coming week in Rovinj, Croatia: Will your customers thank you for your content?
This is me thanking Disney right now.
Story puts the Disney brand at the heart of shareable moments everywhere. There’s nothing about the Story tool that forces Disney into your story — the people in your photos and videos don’t sprout mouse ears, for example.
Instead, Disney gives people the motive and tools to create their own stories — it becomes the story enabler, so to speak — while subtly reinforcing something brilliant: The notion of Disney as the backdrop for so many family memories. Both real and digital.