Transmedia Storytelling and Marketing

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Times change and so do the consumer habits, how they live and get entertained. What once appeared to be somewhat disruptive for an advertising campaign now seems to be the holy grail. Whether a fan or customer appropiated some attribute of a product or a character in a commercial and developed his own story, could generate conflicts over intellectual property and may be counterproductive for the brand. The complex ecosystem of media and platforms have changed the paradigm and marketing must assume the role that should have always taken: to tell compelling stories that capture the attention of an increasingly distracted and fluctuating consumer. Can marketers benefit from transmedia storytelling and what is the challenge for digital agencies in the present and looking into the future? Find out next.

By Alejandro Bagilet

Digital marketing goes beyond social media and transmedia storytelling can make a qualitative leap for any content marketing strategy. It can involve social networks, digital and traditional media, apps and more.

In the convergence age contents flow through different media quickly and often chaotically. Users consume content from multiple devices easily, anywhere and anytime.

Before, users consumed most of the content from a particular device, TV, radio or newspapers, and from specific places and certain times of the day.

Nowadays, consumption is done through multiple platforms, where mobile devices, such as cell phones or tablets, are gaining more and more space. This changes not only from where the contents are consumed but also how they are consumed. The concept of “individual consumption” transforms to one of “shared experience”.

The multiplicity of devices from where the content is consumed demand from marketers to communicate a consistent experience. That is, the message and the information must be adequately delivered through the different channels that are used to communicate.

Another factor that radically changes the communication equation is that most of the new devices and Web 2.0 platforms have a level of bidirectionality between the consumer and the brand that never existed before. If users adopt this way of communicating with each other and with brands, it is necessary for the former to do the same.

Transmedia storytelling: what does it take?

All brands have told and are telling stories but the difference now is that consumers have available multiple devices from which to consume those stories, demanding from brands deeper and more meaningful stories.

So, what has to be considered when planning a transmedia communication strategy?:

  • Segmented and targeted message: the messages have to be specific for the channels used and with different levels of depth.
  • Transmedia involves multi-screen media and mobile platforms: it’s essential to know wich devices our fans or potencial clients are using. Each media makes its own contribution to the storytelling.
  • Consistent content: this doesn’t mean to publish the same content in different channels, either it can be the exact opposite. Knowing what are the advantages/disadvantages of the available media should serve as a guide to the production of specific content for each one of them. The message, the information, the content must be consistent while the form should be unique and specific for each channel. This should lead to an enrichment of the story for the consumers.
  • The parts make up the whole: each part of the story has its own narrative but together they create a consistent, multi-sensorial story.
  • Audience engagement: is crucial to take advantage of the bidirectionality of most of the digital media available. If the content is engaging and encourages the user participation, probably the message will be viral and will reach bigger audiences.

Transmedia agencies: the challenge

Thinking of transmedia is going beyond agencies’ departments and integrate collaborative workspaces. It’s about enhancing ties between the major and minor players throughout the agency. It’s time to think of new models of co-creation and not in hierarchical structures.

The current paradigm demands for communication agencies to adapt to the consuming habits of customers or potential clients.

When users “read” a transmedia message through different media the experience becomes more immersive, deeper and more persuasive achieving a much stronger loyalty with customers/fans and at the same time bringing new fans and potential clients closer.

For the agencies, the paradigm shift is profitable because if the story is well done it can generate impact and earn new media.

Current users and future generations will demand new consumer experiences and agencies have to respond to this challenge, starting by modifying their structures and working methods.

Transmedia storytelling

Transmedia marketing campaigns case studies: