“Content across platforms, engagement across platforms. ‘Transmedia storytelling’ is absolutely crucial.” –Hanson Hosein, Director of UW’s MCDM program
At the in-nw conference February 13th, we heard from panelists representing a variety of intriguing backgrounds and projects, yet several topics seemed to circle the same key question: as digital consumers begin to simultaneously engage with not one screen or even two but three separate screens (television, tablet or laptop, and smartphone), how can we hope to hold their attention?
Transmedia storytelling is a technique to communicate one story in a consistent voice across multiple platforms, in an appealing and platform-appropriate way. Judging by the achievements of in-nw participants, transmedia is no longer a trend but a critical consideration.
Brian Marr, Director of Strategy at Smashing Ideas, was the first to emphasize the value of transmedia projects by mentioning that tone should be replicated across channels; when consumers come to expect the same type and degree of engagement from multiple channels and events, they come to understand a brand’s values and feel heard as well. Once this appeal is recognized, consumers will follow the story wherever it takes them.
Electric Farm Entertainment supplied a fantastic example with Valemont, a supernatural miniseries that aired on MTV. Brent Friedman explained how they created this miniseries with the three-screen concept: Featuring a young woman who enters a vampire university to seek information after her brother’s untimely death, each episode began with a clue from the Verizon phone that the brother left behind. MTV matched the show with an immersive online gaming experience and exclusive mobile content.
One panel in particular, the Social Melting Pot, illustrated how we do not need to confine creative cross-engagement to technological devices. Mark Dyce of 206inc detailed work for Kodak in which their organization put together free Santa Claus photos in exchange for participation in an online survey at Seatac Airport during the holiday travel season. Tim Wang of T.D. Wang Advertising Group shared his story of grassroots events planning: to welcome the Year of the Snake with a lunar new year celebration, organizers contacted YouTube celebrities (each with thousands to millions of subscribers) with heavy ties to the Asian American community. The event took place in Union Square in San Francisco and attracted over ten thousand people.
Thoughtful integrations of television, web, mobile, events, and even family photos combine to tell a story. Developed to project a consistent set of values and tone, these are examples of authentic connection achievable through transmedia storytelling.