Category: storytelling

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3 Transmedia Tactics for Creating Compelling Audience Experiences

This is a guest post form Krishna Stott. Krishna is a technology and story pioneer. He runs Bellyfeel, a leading provider of information and consultancy for traditional media producers who want to expand their audience and increase profits using new devices and platforms.

As a creator, producer and consultant of Transmedia I draw heavily on the media that got me excited when I was a kid. Movies, TV, Music and Books.

Some of those things don’t exist anymore; VHS, vinyl, cassette – but the feelings are still there.

Analogue vs Digital

Those analogue and physical formats were big influences on me and I can’t help thinking that digital is not as rewarding – so you have to try harder as a creator.

As a kid, I would salivate like a starving dog in anticipation of the next 7” single from the Buzzcocks or the Clash. After a Saturday trip to town to buy the shiny black disc in a full color sleeve, I would be vibrating with pleasure on the bus home. Then the joy of popping on the turntable, dropping the needle and experiencing the music.

I would pore over the sleeve for clues as to what my heroes were saying with this latest slice of pop culture. And getting a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ was really exciting – if you could hear the band talking in the intro or outro, or even a distant ‘1 2 3 4 !’ – this was a massive bonus.

Instant Pop Culture

Digital is all about QUICK – NOW – NO WAITING. That’s not good or bad – it’s just how it is – but instant doesn’t mean better.

And digital gives many more options for creativity and business. But more options doesn’t mean better quality experiences.

In a way, you now have a bigger palette for storytelling but the paint is thinner and the picture comes out not as bright or vivid. (Which is ironic because digital is perceived as being brighter and clearer than analogue media.)

So how do you evoke the kinds of feelings that get today’s audience hooked and wanting more, more, more.

Ignite Your Audience With These Transmedia Tactics

I have been creating Digital, Interactive and Transmedia stories for 15 years now. In that time I have picked up a few useful tricks. Here are 3 Transmedia Tactics you can use to ensure your audience gets very excited about your story experience.

1 – Fan Allegiance.

In the old days this meant joining a fan club by mail or reading the weeklies to keep track of their progress – today you can make it easy for fans to connect and take them along with you (and your story) at very low cost, on a global scale.

Do you know the famous Transmedia campaign “Why So Serious?”. This campaign for the “Dark Knight” film had over 10 million fans all following and joining in the actions around the world. Make your content meaningful to your audience and aim for 10 million global fans!

2 – Anticipation.

Once the audience is hooked in, make them wait a while! Then reward them – this will get them chomping at the bit. Don’t make it so easy for the audience – if your story is good enough it will be worth waiting for.

There was a very early interactive web campaign for the 1997 film “The Game” which actually refused entry to lots of people. This was a completely counter intuitive tactic at the time but a genius one IMHO. Make the audience wait… make them wait and then give them…

3 – WOW! Moments.

Although digital storytelling relies on systems for delivery – when telling stories you have to break out of the systems every now and then to create big WOW! Moments.

Remember a film called “The Crying Game”? Watch this film if you don’t know what a WOW! Moment is. Get the audience to expect the unexpected from your story!

These 3 Transmedia Tactics are highly effective in turning your audience into rabid fans – and your audience had better be hot under the collar as the competition for attention is ferocious these days.

This blog post is from  www.tstoryteller.com/three-transmedia-tactics-for-creating-compelling-audience-experiences

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Why Storytelling is So Important to Marketing

In relation with my article Transmedia Storytelling as the future of digital marketing, a lot of the thinking behind it was related to my work at Limelight Networks and our recent pivot towards becoming the leader in digital presence management. The gist was this: our emerging multi-device behavior coupled with a growing “always on” existence requires that marketing messages are consistent across the devices. Transmedia storytelling is simply a vehicle by which to enable that.

But that brings up the question, “why storytelling?”

A (Brief) Understanding of Stories

Why do we love stories? Why do we like to tell them? Why do we like to listen to them, watch them, and read them? Aristotle believed that they embodied fundamental, visceral responses to our own lives so we watched them as a reflection of us. But he felt that plot, and the ability to create a powerful structure, are more important than character or dialogue: “…every drama alike has spectacle, character, plot, diction, song and reasoning. But the most important of them is the structure of the events” (Poetics). What Aristotle didn’t consider was the personification of the events and the environment. When there is only an event, the event itself becomes the character. In essence, Aristotle had it correct, but he didn’t quite understand why. It is only through decades and centuries of philosophical, neurological, and psychological inquiry that we understand the human need to personify, to make things relate to ourselves (egotistically, of course). And, that is ultimately why we enjoy them. They provide us a mechanism to create connection and, ultimately, shape our own identities (a topic that I explored deeply during my graduate studies and hope to return to for my doctorate). What will throw you for a loop is to consider that everything we do in life, every bit of news, every bit of memory and photograph, is a story that we shape to our own needs (either to support who we are, through both negative and positive connotation, or what we want to do). It goes back to that connection. Whether we watch or act, our brains actively work to create a connection between what’s happening in the story and our own identities.

The Impact of Stories on Marketing

According to Maslow, there is a hierarchy of needs that drive all human motivation. In a commercial economy, those needs are often actualized by purchases. So you purchase base necessities first (the physiological needs according to Maslow) and then eventually luxuries, etc. Although I think Maslow’s work needs a revisit, it’s a fair framework. It’s possible that the digital world upsets those hierarchies and that long-term modification is in order. But, whatever aspect of the hierarchy comes first, influence is critical especially in a highly competitive commercial market (i.e., a global digital economy). There are simply too many products (and too many merchants selling the same products) that without influence, failure is pre-determined.

How then can a marketer create the most influence? How do they stand out from competitive products (and competitive merchants)? Easy. They create an emotional connection between the potential customer and the product/company.

Why the World of Marketing Today is So Different Than Before

The economy is globalizing. Plain and simple. Here’s why:

  • E-commerce. Anyone, anywhere in the world can setup a shop online and sell products.
  • Global logistics. UPS, DHL, Fedex. These and other companies have established a worldwide distribution network.
  • Product digitization. Mobile applications, desktop software, music, movies, books.

Because of this global economy, traditional “spray and pray” marketing no longer works. In the past, regional and physical boundaries minimized product competition. There may have been only several product competitors in any given area. That no longer applies. In the global, digital economy, competitors can appear overnight. Boundaries are removed. Companies that once benefited from “spray and pray” in local or regionalized markets find themselves now competing with hundreds of competitors simultaneously. Hoping that marketing messages get heard ensures that they don’t.

Today, marketers are intrinsically worried about the “noise:” all those other messages about similar products, and so they seek any way to set themselves apart. The way to do that most effectively is by creating an emotional connection with the customer. By telling a story.

A Message That’s not a Message

Marketers as storytellers are doing something fundamentally different than marketers of before: they are focusing on establishing a connection between customer and message first and selling the product second. They are telling a story in which the product or service is an element. Perhaps it is the catalyst for change (i.e., a character in the story uses the product and is changed for the better or worse) or perhaps it helps move the story along. Whatever, the product or service only serves a role. The story is primary.

And, because of that, the message sounds more genuine. Although consumers ultimately understand that the message is intended to convince them to buy the product or service, they are emotionally connected to the characters (or the “action” of the story in the event that such action is personified) because it is a story. They see the character as a representation of their own needs (back to Maslow). Because that character uses the product, the need is transferred. Of course, this works in both directions. When there is a negative association with the characters within the message, the character’s needs for the product (i.e., how they are using it) become a reason not to purchase.

Why Transmedia Storytelling Will Be the Most Impactful

Which leads us back to Transmedia Storytelling. In 1964, Marshal McLuhan coined a phrase: “The medium is the message.” Although I won’t go into details here (there are plenty of resource that explain McLuhan’s philosophy), the basic tenant is that how the message is delivered has just as much impact as the content of the message itself. So a message delivered via a movie versus via a written page versus  still images affects the message which is hugely important when trying to create an emotional connection between the customer and the characters in the story. And, mediums are multi-dimensional. So video on a mobile is still different from video on TV just as video on a flip-phone is different from video on a smartphone. It is critically important that marketers understand how McLuhan’s original philosophy is impacted by the digital world. He never foresaw the number of channels and methods by which a message can get delivered.

Why is this important? It goes back to creating connection. Some customers will find appeal in certain messages delivered via certain channels. That’s what McLuhan was truly after. To appeal to the broadest set of customers, then, marketers must craft stories that take advantage of their mediums. Ultimately, you can call it whatever you want. Right now we have Transmedia Storytelling. Tomorrow it may be another term. Regardless of the name, it’s a framework for marketers to tell stories that leverage the medium by which the message is delivered (i.e., TV vs phone) and in which the message is delivered (i.e., videos vs. text vs. pictures, etc.).

 This blog post is from www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/08/31/why-storytelling-is-so-important-to-marketing/

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How to measure transmedia experiences

We’re delighted to be working with Eefje Op den Buysch, Head of the Fontys Transmedia Storytelling Lab and Hille van der Kaa, professor of the professorship of Media, Interaction and Narration at Fontys School of Applied Sciences in the exciting and much needed area of audience engagement as it applies to transmedia storytelling.

Below is Eefje & Hille’s “flyer” for their talk at the Conducttr Conference where they’ll be presenting their findings. Our plan is to incorporate this work into Conducttr so that we present a meaningful dashboard with actionable insights rather than a simple series of charts.

How do you measure transmedia? What metrics will help transmedia producers better understand, compare and contrast the impact of a transmedia story?

In this research we analyzed existing engagement models and added the insights of twelve leading transmedia experts in attempt to come closer to a final solution.

Measuring engagement means placing audience size into a broader context of how the transmedia production is actually performing. Stakeholders in the production get to see where, how and when fan engage so that refinements can be made.

In this research we choose to focus on the goals of the storyteller.

We propose a model that can be used to create and give direction to a transmedia production team of writers and performers. Twelve leading transmedia experts evaluated this so-called ‘Toggle Switch’ model.

Toggle Switch Model

We see three important aspects of a transmedia production:

  • the storyworld
  • the individual audience member’s behavior in comparison to others
  • the experience of the storyworld at various stages of the audience journey.

Audience members who interact with the world are considered to be engaged users. By tracking the behavior of individual users we can map how they discover the world and how they interact with it over time: each time a user touches something in the storyworld, we record it. By listing all these ‘points of interaction’ and structuring them into chapters, scenes and beats, we can track the journey and hotspots of engagement for individual users as they progress through the story.

The key benefit of our conceptual model is that the behavior of an individual user can be compared to others. In doing so, we can interpret the relative engagement of an individual user compared to others (as a ratio) at certain points of interaction (touchpoints, chapters, scenes, beats). By tracking the user journey the storyteller gets actionable insights on the behavior of that individual, but also on the behavior of groups of users.

Evaluating Toggle Switch Model

We asked twelve leading experts to evaluate the clarity, completeness, affectivity, applicability and benefit of our model.  Amongst them are Sam Ford (Peppercomm, New York, NY), Dr. Pamela Rutledge (Media Psychology Research Center, Boston, MA), Bart Robben (Elastique, Hilversum, NL), Egbert van Wyngaarden (Transmedia Desk, Munich, DE) and Soraia Ferreira (UT Austin, Porto, PT)

Participants found our model interesting, allowing the ability to track both individual and overall journeys and providing the opportunity to adjust the strategy during the campaign. But they were doubtful that this model could measure real emotions. Based on the insights of our expert panel, we have improved our model and we are excited to share these results at the Conductrr Conference.

We aim to present an engagement model that can be easily integrated in the daily activities of a transmedia storyteller.

About this research

This research is conducted by Eefje Op den Buysch, Head of the Fontys Transmedia Storytelling Lab and Hille van der Kaa, professor of the professorship of Media, Interaction and Narration at Fontys School of Applied Sciences. 15 students at the Fontys Transmedia Storytelling lab run the interviews.

Fontys’ Transmedia Storytelling Lab was designed for the research and development of transmedia productions and their value in the digital age. The professorship of Media, Interaction and Narration aims to develop innovative media concepts. It puts focus on the influence of technology on storytelling.

Check out the PDF here

“This model is designed to be able to track individuals and in what way each person travels through the narrative world… It gives storytellers the possibility to understand which particular parts of the story serve the right purpose.” – Sam Ford

“It is a very clear way of starting to break down the transmedia experience. By looking at ways of measuring these multiple threads of behavior to try and make sense out of them in a hole.”– Dr. Pamela Rutledge 

 This blogpost is from http://www.tstoryteller.com/how-to-measure-transmedia-experiences

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Storytelling: What Makes a Good Story?

Storytelling is the future of digital marketing, plain and simple. If you aren’t on board yet, you are living in the past and each day you are “advertising” your products instead of “storytelling” about your business is another day your competitors are getting ahead of you. But before we jump into some ideas about what makes a good story, let’s look at the evolving digital marketer.

Yesterday’s Digital Marketer

You’ve all met this person. Heck, this terrible stereotype may even be you. But yesterday’s digital marketer is all about checkboxes. They have a list of channels: web, Facebook, Twitter, mobile app. They see these channels are just another mechanism through which to broadcast their message. Even though digital channels include technologies to enable engagement, they are still practicing old school marketing methods. They are still advertising. They focus on trying to sell a product which is like driving through mud: just when the think they have traction (and customers get the messaging), they have to start again (with a new product) or change it up (to keep from getting stale) and before they know it, they are spinning their wheels again in a new puddle. Maybe it’s a perfect strategy to justify a cushy existence.

But as digital marketing (and the customer) continue to evolve, it’s clear that this is a dying approach.

Today’s Digital Marketer (aka, God of Engagement)

These people are still hard to find but when you do, you know it almost immediately. They don’t have checklists. They have numbers that tell them the effectiveness of their efforts, numbers that speak about depth of engagement, metrics that illustrate the impact of their marketing effort. And they aren’t telling customers about their product. They are using different channels to create an emotional connection between customers and their brand so that when they need to launch a new product or change its messaging, it’s not like trying to roll that rock uphill because they’ve already done the REALLY hard work: creating the connection between the customer and what’s really important.

How do they do this? Through storytelling.

What is Storytelling?

We aren’t talking about War and Peace. We are talking about the kinds of stories that businesses are beginning to tell, the kinds of stories that engage with customers and create real, emotional connection, the kinds of stories through which businesses engage with customers as they move through the narrative arc. Look at Coca-Cola’s new website: Coca-Cola Journeys (we will be examining this story in-depth in a future post of this series). Their story is about stories of people using their products, or impacted by Coca-Cola’s brand, or affected by some other aspect of the company. Coca-cola is telling their customers that they are a facilitator, an enabler. They are crafting stories with narration across channels.

Digital storytelling isn’t reading Dr. Seuss to your customers. And although it may be, it’s not necessarily about characters and plots. But it is about a situation in which someone uses the product to cause some result. That’s a narrative arc:

  • Exposition/Set-up. Where the action is going to take place.
  • Rising Action. Characters in the story finding the product and putting it to use to solve a problem.
  • Solving the problem with the product.
  • Falling Action. Mopping up the action. Everything calming down.
  • The result of the climax. What happened to the characters now that they solved the problem using the product?

It has been written in other posts that Storytelling is critical to digital marketers as a crucial method to create differentiation in an increasingly competitive global, digital market.

So What Makes Good Storytelling?

First, this isn’t a critique on narrative conventions or stage directions. The points below are salient action items for today’s digital marketer to ensure a visceral, emotional connection between customer and company. Second, there’s probably a lot of discussion to be had about this list. We may have left off items that seem obvious (or about which you believe strongly). We may have included items that you think are frivolous. Regardless, let’s just agree that there is a general list and agree-to-disagree that ours might not be the gospel.

  • Narrative arc. In order to create emotional connection, the story has to have an arc. That arc could be split across channels. It could be split across campaigns. Doesn’t matter. But research is showing that the brain responds chemically (i.e., generates emotional connection) when the story follows a traditional arc.
  • About company, not product. It is far more effective (long-term) for stories to somehow relate the company position and its ethos rather than focus on a product. Not only does this differentiate (customers are becoming increasingly jaded to product-level messaging) but it also allows products to be interchanged without compromising the emotional connection made between customer and company.
  • Multi-channel (with purpose). Good stories cross channels. They make use of web, mobile, social, and others. But these stories aren’t just repeated across channels. The story is tailored and tweaked to take advantage of the channel, both from a technology and engagement perspective. Customers in different channels have different expectations of the story/content. Good stories appeal to and acknowledge that.
  • Emotional. Flat stories suck. These are stories that just seem to “go through the motions.” Really good stories pull heart strings, make us laugh, make the reader rise to action. This is in addition to the emotional connection that the reader may make with “actors” (i.e., characters, events, places, etc.) within the story. It magnifies that connection.
  • Rich media. Let’s face it, people don’t like to read a lot of text. If you mistake storytelling with writing, you will be sorely disappointed. Good stories in the digital world leverage all sorts of different media type: videos, audio, slideshows, images, graphics. Not only does rich media promote interaction, it creates variety. It creates that emotional engagement on a variety of different levels using several different senses.
  • Engagement. All good digital stories provide for engagement. This may be simply for customers to share with other customers (you might be surprised about the power of simply enabling customers to talk about how they feel about your story) and it may be a planned event. Regardless, successful stories will look for multiple opportunities to engage directly with customers as they form these emotional connections with the story. And if done right, this will strengthen the bond between customer and company (a company that “cares” to hear what its customers have to say).
  • Mechanics. You may take it for granted, but your users don’t: performance matters. Research in web and video engagement point to customers abandoning your story when it’s slow or under performing. And being able to reach everywhere your customers might be is of equal importance. The last thing you want to do is have a weak story in one region (because only one channel is available) where a competitor might not.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. But it’s a good starting point for evaluating whether or not a digital story is successful. Next up we will take a look at Coca-Cola against these bullets as an example of a well-executed digital story.

You can read more about Storytelling in the Whitepaper “Marketing destinations through storytelling” in this weblog.

This blog post is from: www.rethinkeverythingblog.com/2017/10/11/storytelling-101-what-makes-a-good-story/