Social Media Week Insights: Transmedia Storytelling

Social Media Week Chicago was fun and informative. I was able to attend several great sessions around the city and hear from industry influencers. My favorite session by far was Distributed Storytelling presented by Troy Hitch, Executive Creative Director for Energy BBDO. Very few companies are engaging in true transmedia storytelling because it means they have to let the consumer lead and they fear this. Transmedia storytelling is an immersive experience for consumers. They want to be able to socially immerse themselves into the brand and contribute more than dollars to its life. If you’re unsure, transmedia storytelling is about distributing pieces of a story on different platforms and having each platform add a new aspect.

Troy gave six great principles on how to make distributing your brand’s story fun and effective. His guidelines were simple and his insights were compelling.

1. Create Compelling Characters

The brand is not always the main character in a story, which is why other interesting characters need to be created. The brand can take on many roles such as the shadow, conspirator, lead, or sponsor. The consumer also plays different roles including champion, contributor, or viewer.

2. Listen to the Audience

As you build the story, integrate audience suggestions and feedback into it. This action keeps consumers engaged and also lets them know they have a hand in the direction the story is going to take. They are active players in the brand’s life.

3. Decentralize the Story

The story should not exist on one platform and also should not involve around one character. Have the brand interact with multiple character types to better engage with consumers.

 4. Build the Universe

A transmedia story is ever evolving and with every consumer suggestion feels like it will never have an ending. Continue to build the universe of the brand and the story. Troy gave the important advice to always leave breadcrumbs to the original source. Leaving breadcrumbs helps consumers change platforms and explore the universe more.

 5. Activate the Audience

While some audience members may only be viewers, it is important to activate and involved the highly engaged consumers. This is the part of the story where their contribution is extremely important. Beyond engaging with the story, you want them to engage with your brand offline.

 6. Let the Story Go

If your transmedia storytelling is truly successful, you will eventually be able to let it go and live on its own. The audience will handle distribution and additions for you.

Distributed Storytelling is the future of public relations and marketing. With the creation of every social networking platform, distributed storytelling becomes more and more relevant and necessary to keep consumers engaged with brands. Don’t let your brand get left behind and begin engaging in transmedia storytelling.

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