The StoryCorps App
Launched with support from the 2015 TED Prize and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the StoryCorps App and StoryCorps.me were created as a global platform for listening, connecting, and sharing stories of the human experience.
A free tool for mobile phones and small-screen devices, the app puts the StoryCorps experience entirely in the hands of users and enables anyone, anywhere to record meaningful conversations with another person. The app guides users through the interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their stories with the world. It provides easy-to-use tools to help people prepare interview questions; record high-quality conversations on their mobile devices; and upload the audio to the Library of Congress and StoryCorps.me platform, which serves as a home for these recordings and also provides interview and editing resources.
Since its debut, nearly a quarter million people have take part in an interview using the StoryCorps App. Get the app and get started at StoryCorps.me
Getting the Most out of the StoryCorps app and StoryCorps.me
With the StoryCorps app and StoryCorps.me you can browse and listen to recordings from other users, add to the online library by sharing your own story, and activate your group, organization, or community around the power of storytelling. Below are our recommendations for how to get the most out of the app and site, whether you’re an individual, a group member or a community leader.
If you choose to publish your recording to the StoryCorps.me platform, you will make it public to the world and have the opportunity to share it with your family, friends and community. Publishing to Storycorps.me will also result in your story being archived with the American Folklife Center at the United States Library of Congress. Please note that you always have the choice to keep an interview private by choosing not to upload it to StoryCorps.me.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and your community success stories about using the app and platform. Please share your feedback and stories with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Getting Started
- Interview Tips
- Sound Quality
- Strategies for Groups
- Interview Keywords Form
- Start a Community
- Listen to stories about a specific topic, like baseball, marriage, or friendship
- Publish a titled recording to StoryCorps.me and make it searchable by keywords
- Using titles, descriptions, and keywords to enrich your recordings
- Share stories via social media
- Embed audio files on any blog or site
Groups, Organizations, and Communities
- Create a single-user account for your group
- Coordinate a multi-user keyword campaign around your organization name or another custom keyword
- Elements of an effective communications plan for a custom keywords campaign
- Create a custom question list
Using App Interviews and StoryCorps.me
- Make your next visit a recording day
- Turn your event or party into a listening event
- Marketing and publicity tools
- Exhibits and performances
StoryCorps.me is designed to help you search and listen to recordings about all kinds of topics from all manner of sources. Audio files are organized by keywords added by users who have uploaded their conversations. Browse the library by keyword by clicking on the “Search & Explore” button in the “Browse” tab of StoryCorps.me. You’ll see a list of terms arranged by “keywords,” “places,” and “organizations.” Select a term to pull up interviews that other users have tagged for that topic. You can browse for keywords like “baseball,” “marriage,” or “friendship,” organizations like Teach for America or Red Cross, and places like New York or Wichita.
Once you’ve recorded a story that you want to share with the world, follow the prompts in the app to publish your conversation. You’ll have an option to title the interview (we recommend a descriptive title such as “Angela and David talk about being parents”), provide a summary of the recording, and apply keywords including organizations and places to your audio file. Adding keywords will associate your interview with those terms on StoryCorps.me. So, if you enter “baseball” as a keyword, other users will find your recording in a cluster of stories about baseball. We recommend adding between 5-15 keywords about the main ideas in your interview for best results.
The more information you associate with your uploaded recording, the easier it will be for other users to find and hear your story. To that end, consider including: (1) a one-sentence descriptive title including the first and last names of both participants; (2) a 1-2 sentence description of the interview including the location and date, names, and brief autobiographical details of the participants, and a general overview of the topics discussed; and (3) 5-15 keywords (keywords work like “tags”) that describe important themes, topics, places, and people discussed in the interview. To help create and edit this information, we recommend that you use the worksheet Interview Keywords Form which can be found in the User Guides above. After you publish your interview, you’ll be able to add, delete, or edit any of this information on StoryCorps.me from a desktop or laptop computer.
Interview/Recording Title: Smith Family Reunion: Grandma and Grandpa Smith talk about marriage
Summary/Description: In this recording from our family reunion in Kentucky on June 4, 2015, Grandma and Grandpa talk about their lives, love, marriage, and Grandma’s experience in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs). Poignant moment at minute 35.
- General: Grandparents, Parenting, Life Lessons, Marriage, Love.
- Places: Paducah, KY (where the couple spent their lives)
- Organizations: Smith Family, WAACS
Interview/Recording Title: Flatbush Community Garden Center: Jane and John on the transformative power of urban gardening
Summary/Description: In this interview between the founders of a community garden, Jane and John talk about their relationship, vegetable gardening, and the first time they grew pumpkins. Very funny story at minute 12.
- General: Urban Gardening, Community Building, Pumpkins, Volunteering
- Places: Flatbush, Brooklyn (where the garden in the story is located)
- Organizations: Flatbush Community Gardening Center
You can add this information as part of the upload process, or later by signing in to your account at StoryCorps.me and editing your recordings.
Once you’ve uploaded your recording, you can share it to social media from the app by following the prompts or from StoryCorps.me by clicking on the title of the interview. On the next screen, click on the share icon in the upper right hand corner of the interview box enabling you to share via URL, Facebook, and Twitter.
To embed an audio iframe player from StoryCorps.me onto your site or blog click on the title of the interview and then the arrow in the upper right hand corner of the interview box. You or your site administrator can use this code to place the audio onto your page.
The StoryCorps app and StoryCorps.me are great tools for activating groups, organizations, and communities around the power of storytelling. Whether you’re interested in collecting stories, creating amateur oral histories, or raising awareness about a common issue or experience, below are our recommendations about how to get the most out of your experience. Please keep in mind that we are continuing to build our offerings for organizations and expect to add functionalities in the coming months.
Establishing a single-user account on behalf of your group is a great way to collect and share stories from your community. This works best for smaller, consolidated entities where one person can administer the account for the organization. As account administrator you will control which recordings are published (and which remain unpublished), and you can add and delete stories from the feed, and apply interview titles, keyword tags, story summaries, and other descriptive information to individual audio files. As with all interviews, be sure that you have the consent of your interview participants before you publish conversations. Do not share the login credentials for the account; rather have one person administer the feed.
- Example: The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) collected stories from its members at an annual gathering under the account Women@theTable: https://storycorps.me/user/womenthetable/
A custom keyword campaign is a great way to harness the power of many users to promote awareness of an organization, idea, or issue. Keywords make it easier for users to find interviews and easier for your organization to collect them. With a great communications plan, it is easy to activate a group keyword campaign to collect coordinated recordings on the app and StoryCorps.me while preserving individual user control over recordings that are published online. As a general overview, start by having your members download the app and create individual user accounts. Ask members to collect and upload recordings using a common title convention, description, and most importantly, specific keyword conventions (such as one or more custom keywords).
- For Mother’s Day, users tagged their audio files for the custom keyword “thanksmom”: https://storycorps.me/keywords/thanksmom/
- An organization for fighting hunger collected stories tagged for the custom keyword “endhunger”: https://storycorps.me/keywords/endhunger/
Users will enter the custom keywords as part of the upload process in one of three fields – general keywords, organizations, or places. Once interviews have been published and tagged, any user can browse and find individual stories or the link to the story collection, or embed audio into another site or page. Individual users can also edit titles and keywords after upload by logging into their account at StoryCorps.me. With proper messaging to your community (such as through email, newsletters, print or social channels) your group can activate a custom keyword campaign to promote your mission or otherwise celebrate your community. Do note that it is possible that some non-affiliates will tag stories for your keyword based on the success of your campaign or the commonality of the specific word.
To get the most out of a custom keywords campaign, you’ll want to communicate the following points to your target audience or membership.
- Download the free StoryCorps app and create a user account
- Plan and create recordings on the app
- Specify that users apply custom keywords in a keyword field at upload. Note, this is the single most important element of your plan. You can use language like:
- “Tag recordings for general keywords LGBTQ” or “Tag recordings for Organization Fight Against Hunger”
- “You might seek out a new or unique keyword, or add to a keyword that already exists on StoryCorps.me. “Tag for general keyword endhunger,” or “Tag for general keyword ComingOutStories”
- Users will be able to see the results by browsing for the custom keyword on StoryCorps.me
- Users can also edit their keywords, titles, and descriptions by logging into StoryCorps.me
- Specify a titling convention – this will improve the appearance of your results page
- A and B talk about LGBTQ or
- Fight Against Hunger Conference 2015: A and B talk
- Draft a custom question list and email it to your target audience to collect themed recordings (see below)
- Specify a time frame for interview collection
- Advise your audience to share uploaded recordings via URL, social media, or embeddable iframe player
You can promote your campaign in emails, newsletters, via traditional and social media, and by sharing collected audio or embedding it into your site. A nice touch is to curate from a list of recordings on StoryCorps.me and choose a handful of favorites to embed into your organization’s site via the iframe player.
A custom question campaign is a great way to focus your interviews on a theme your group is trying to target. Interviews should be natural conversations, but curating and circulating a question list in advance may steer users towards the theme you’d like to highlight. Distribute the questions to your group as part of a broader communications plan and ask your members to follow those questions when recording an interview. You might consider combining a custom questions list with a custom keyword campaign to get the most out of your project
Using App Interviews and StoryCorps.me Do you love the idea of the StoryCorps app but you’re not sure what to do with it? Below see some of our ideas about how to use recordings and StoryCorps.me.
The next time you catch up with a friend or visit a family member, record a conversation together. Create a lasting memory, or start a new tradition by recording a conversation with the same person every year on the same date such as New Year’s Day, your birthday, or anniversary.
If you’re having a birthday party or honoring a special individual, celebrate your guest of honor by recording a conversation with that person in advance to share at your event. Another idea for a listening party is to have attendees collect and share recordings of their favorite memories about the honoree (perhaps you could include a custom keyword in your invitation). At the event, you can play audio from your app or a computer connected to speakers. Make sure the speaker volume is loud enough to fill the room. Projecting photos of the interview participants onto a screen is a nice addition. Alternately, you can find a quiet space at your event to record an interview with one or more honorees. And finally, you could always ask your members to download the StoryCorps app as a party favor, if they haven’t done so already.
In addition to sharing a recording on social media, you can embed audio from StoryCorps.me to enhance your organization’s website, newsletters, or blog. Writing about your interviews allows you to reflect on the experience of participating in or listening to an app interview and to promote the value of listening.
StoryCorps app interviews provide compelling content and inspiration for artistic expression. Invite your audience to connect closely with an exhibit by engaging them in listening directly through the app or through StoryCorps.me, which can complement or expand on the exhibit’s visual components. You can also invite participants to record and share their interviews via the app or StoryCorps.me.
We hope the technical tips and other resources in this guide will inspire you to listen to and collect StoryCorps app recordings. We always seek new and creative ways to inspire organizations to plan, record, and share the stories they record on the app. Please check back soon for additional functionalities, guidelines, and recommendations.