Thursday, October 14, 2010

auf wiedersehen #transmedia pet

The word 'transmedia' sounds science-fiction in itself. Immediate associations with The Matrix and suchlike, understandable in as much as the term was coined in the Henry Jenkins book Convergence Culture with the aforementioned franchise as a key example.

It's taken me a while to fully get my head around this (I'm still working on it) from a marketing/advertising perspective, particularly on how it could play out for less cool or sexy early adopter type of brands.

What on earth does transmedia storytelling look like for dogfood?

But, suppose I was, say, a workwear brand looking for a way to connect with customers and fans, and had bitten the bullet of branded 'content' being something that would deliver relevance, context and branding?

Also suppose, if you can, that the much-loved UK comedy/drama series 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' had never been written, and was invented by said workwear brand as a piece of branded content and story 'spark'?

The workwear products are integral to the content, obviously, and feature throughout in classic product placement/branded content style.

A very simple example of the principles of transmedia storytelling in practical application, easily achievable in an unlikely category might look something like this.

A weekly video podcast episode distributed via itunes, and a dedicated YouTube channel, while also embedded in the story hub website and on the Facebook fan page.

This distribution strategy giving the opportunity for the 'audience' to subscribe, watch, comment and share on a basic level of (mostly) passive consumption through thechannel of their choice.

It's still a bit one-dimensional and linear though...

There's a nugget in the 37 Signals book 'ReWork' around 'by-products'.
The notion being that 'when you make something, you also make something else'.
Once that penny dropped I started to get it much more.

By-products and subplots introduces the idea of 'drillability' to compliment the spreadability.
The story contains multiple characters and subtexts. Each of these take the story off in other directions, which can be followed by niche factions within a fan group.
And, of course, multiple possible entry points for newcomers.

For example, individual twitter streams for each character, photo albums, playlists.
Spin-off narratives and everything else.

The myriad of social technologies, through which the author-directed story plays out, also invites interaction and participation from the audience, of course.

According to the 1-9-90 law of participation in engaged communities around 1% will then create their own content based on the original story 'spark'.

In the case of 'Where are the Joneses' the Ford sponsored online sit-com from a few years ago, the 'audience' actually edited the script, locations and story threads, and appeared as extras in the episodes.

Each different delivery channel can then communicate a different story element or thread, each of these threads can make perfect sense on their own or can be pieced together by the 'audience'.

As much or as little as suits them.

Coming back to 'by-products', all this content and participation then creates the disruptive possibility that the more conventional advertising and marketing materials (tv ads, direct mail etc) can be by-products of the participatory experience itself, and therefore further rabbit-holes for entry, already loaded with context.

And so it goes.

As I was writing, this piece popped up in my reader from Edelman's Steve Rubel.

'To stand out today it’s critical that businesses create content. Activating your cadre of internal subject matter experts is the surest path to visibility. According to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, the public is increasingly relying on subject matter experts as trusted authorities...The reality is, however, that organizations need to do more than just unleash their subject matter experts en masse. They need to activate them in multiple channels at once and equip them in how to create a compelling narrative'

Finally, props to the fantastic Scott Walker who's been helping with my intermediate transmedia indoctrination...

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