9 September, 2022

How to choose the right storytelling app

icon communicate,message,storytelling
Choose the right app to tell you story by taking into account your audience, the message and the result you want to achieve.

Choose the right app to tell your story by considering your audience, the message and your desired outcome.

There is no one size fits all in storytelling. Start with your objective, audience and message.

  • Audience profile? How much time do they have for your message? What level of detail is needed? Will they read your message on a phone or laptop?
  • Will the story evolve? Will the information in your story change with new data or is it static?
  • Type of content?" Is the information you plan to share mostly data, images, audio or video?
  • Interactive? Will readers interact with the data, or be watching it passively?

What is the key element of your story? A story may have more than one, but it helps to pick one key element to emphasize

  • Location: Where did something happen?
  • Connections: Is it about how people are connected? How money flows?
  • Data: Is providing information a key part of your story?
  • Animation: Does your story involve movement, dialog or action?

This blog reviews 14 storytelling apps of which ten are free along with examples of how the apps were used.

Choose the right app to tell your story based on the audience, message and desired outcome
Share this resource guide freely with this link


Where something took place provides a good backdrop to a story. It makes it easier for the reader to understand how the story impacts them, based on where they live. Within location based stories there are four other considerations: Is the story about information? How much of a narrative is involved with the map? How does the situation change over time? Is the map changing in real time with fresh details?

Republicans ban abortions and deny poor mothers the Medicaid they are entitled to
Data rich maps: ArcGIS Online

Republican war on women. This map explains how states led by Trump Republican ban abortions and also deny poor mothers the Medicaid they are entitled to after childbirth? What role does racism play in these policies?

The GOP is now the lawless disorderly party which threatens to defund the FBI
Storymaps: StoryMaps

Party of Law & Order is Lawless & Disorderly. This message tells the story about Defunding the FBI! Attack law enforcement officials. What happened to the party claiming to be for Law and Order? 

2022 Mass shooting dashboard as Republicans block gun safety measures with the filibuster
Progression: Time aware ArcGIS

GOP filibuster kills gun safety bills as children die in mass shootings. This story includes a map which evolves with time to show mass shootings as they occur over time.

Repubicans block funding for COVID care and threaten to kill ACA Obamacare
Realtime: ArcGIS Online

GOP cuts funding for COVID healthcare. This story includes a map which changes continuously with new data about COVID deaths with data obtained from the John Hopkins Coronavirus Center.


Does your story involve connections between people, groups, the flow of money. Consider the free Kumu relationship map app which makes it easier to visualize connections.

Billionaires use lawsuits to silence journalists and hide behind 'Freedom of the Press' to cover their own. Follow the money to understand this double standard.
Relationships: Kumu (free app)

Dominion Voting sues Fox News. This relationship map explains how billionaires silence critics with lawsuits but hide behind 'Freedom of the Press' to cover the lies they broadcast themselves.

Koch rigged Supreme Court rules for oil companies
Money: Kumu (free app)

Koch Rigged Supreme Court Rules For Oil Companies. Follow the money to see how oil tycoons rig the courts to get the laws they want.

Trace how people got to their current positions and their agendas in order to understand how political payback works
People: Kumu (free app)

Supreme Political Payback. Puzzled by the extreme right wing Supreme Court decisions? Trace the history of the decision makers to see how they got their positions and who they owe.


It's challenging to tell stories with a lot of data. How do you tell your story in an interesting way without overwhelming the reader with too much information? How do you make the data more useful? Easy to search?

President Biden's biggest achievements
Data Points: Infogram (free app)

President Biden's biggest achievements. President Biden has accomplished a lot despite Republican obstruction. This infographic highlights some of his biggest achievements.

Trump used ICE to separate children from their families. This app helps parents who have been deported to help their children
Information: Glide App (free app)

How to help your kids if you're deported. This app was designed during the Trump Presidency when ICE was being used to separate children from their parents. It provides information on groups and resources to help parents.

Republicans make a joke of the Supreme Court as they cling to power by denying women and voters their rights
Collection: Wakelet (free app)

Insider's guide to the Supreme Court in pictures. The Supreme Court was an honorable institution, till Republicans politicized it into a joke. Cartoons are now the best way to explain how it works.


Trying to get your message across as fast as possible? With impact? And easy to share? Use an animated story with a GIF or video that people can watch passively even on mute. Put your story that will be shared verbally into a free teleprompter that readers can use when presenting your message to others.

Chris Smalls organizes Amazon workers in New York
Verbal: Big Stage Teleprompter (free app)

Train workers to amplify demands with a common script. How can the magic of great organizers be bottled to train others to explain their demands better?

Create your own Rapid Response GIF
GIF: EZGIF (free app)

Create your own Rapid Response GIF. How does a grassroots groups without much money, staff and technical skills launch a rapid response campaigns? This blog explains how Anthony created a Rapid Response GIF

Merrick Garland stresses the need to curb political violence
Video clip: iMovie (free app)

Create a rapid response video when you have no money and hardly any video editing skills? with iMovie.

Republicans scheme to kill Medicare
Movie: Lumen5 (free app)

Where will the Republican plan to kill Medicare hurt the most? Produce social videos to increase audience engagements. Lumen5 is powered by artificial intelligence and enables anyone without training or experience to easily create engaging video content within minutes.

TakeAway: Your message is important. Choose the right app to tell your story well.



Image credit: Grainger

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