Transmedia is a continuing pursuit for us. We work in 3 main verticals, 1. Design / development within advertising and entertainment client. So, websites, games, mobile apps, installations etc. 2. We also have our own original content properties for emerging platforms, including an online show called Trendhunter.TV and 2 shows with Nickelodeon&#x2019;s Teen Network. 3. Original technology, which we develop to solve problems, build utility, or to entertain people in new ways.
So, What is Transmedia?
Essentially, transmedia is the concept that key elements of a core story
made of of many layers,
across multiple places and platforms
distributed in a system
with the distinct purpose of creating one united and coordinated entertainment experience.
The other key element to transmedia is the idea that each platform you use does certain things well, and if possible you should use those affordances to tailor the execution on each platform.
Finally the one more piece we add to define whether it&#x2019;s transmedia or not is to ask if the execution &#x2018;enhances&#x2019; the story, making it more fun and compelling for the audience, or does it just increase the scale. Scale can be exausting to both create and interact with, while enhancing, makes the story unique and better than a traditional one platform model.
So... Why do it? For us, creating transmedia experiences has two purposes.
To first is create infrastructure and a longer lasting, richer experience and can communicate compelling layers of a core story enhancing that story and the experience of that story.
The point in this first instance is typicatlly drive audience to a &#x2018;mothership&#x2019; entity from these additional story layers. Effectively this is really more of a &#x2018;Marketing&#x2019; approach to using Transmedia.
And second, is to originate and create a more effective story and property made possible by building audience, gaining additional distribution methods, compelling fans to the entire story world. Some might define this as more of a bottom up &#x2018;Development&#x2019; approach to using transmedia.
Essentially with either route the goal is capture an audience,
creating a larger, more loyal fan base,
that can help to make the properties we create or complement more commercially viable.
We really believe that in the sea of content, and stories available for people today, the key to a successful story property is adding value, which in tow creates loyalty, social spread and ultimately attention.
The other reason, and I don&#x2019;t think it gets mentioned enough, is that its actually pretty fun. As a storyteller, we believe it should be fun to tell your story in different ways.
For you as a storyteller this is critical to remember, because if you don&#x2019;t enjoy the ways in which you are telling your story then it&#x2019;s probably not going to be much fun for people to engage with your story.
but, who cares?
Transmedia programs are inherently about the creation of a culture around your story.
At their best, these properties are organic and eb and flow taking into account the audience and their participation.
If they really work, the audience adopts the property as their own and evangelizes it.
The trick is to involve and engage many different types of people, who can all evangelize your project.
In my experience, there are typically 3 types of people that engage in these experiences.
1. Hardcore users. These are the people that will follow, track and participate in as much of the property as they can get their hands on.
2. The Lifters &#x2013; These are the people who really like to play elements of what you have created, or who might use one or more elements to increase their social currency among their friends. Ie. Sending a viral games, personalized messages, or just like to be the first one in on a new idea.
3. Casual Users or Spectators &#x2013; These are the people that might conceptually like the idea, or the show property, but don&#x2019;t have the time or can&#x2019;t be bothered to play along with the whole larger infrastructure.
Ultimately in my experience, often the toughest part of creating these experiences, is finding a way create story engagement techniques like games, puzzles, clues, or content that can appeal all of these different type of users, without alienating one or more of them.
I still haven&#x2019;t figured that one out yet. But it&#x2019;s going to be done. I&#x2019;m not sure there is one model, but there might be a tool kit of techniques that can help us get there.
So... How does this all work in the real world.
I&#x2019;m going to go through now are some lessons that I&#x2019;ve learned by doing projects, which have really helped me to define what, how, when and where to bring transmedia executions in on my projects.
First and foremost, I think the biggest lesson that I&#x2019;ve learned is that you need to realize at what point you&#x2019;re stepping into the project,
It sounds obvious, but it&#x2019;s surprising how many people want a transmedia solution attached to a pre-baked campaign, show or concept. I mean if it&#x2019;s fully baked, then yeah, we can work with that, and we&#x2019;ve done it well in the past but the main content is done, and it makes it hard to create a flow between the properties, rather we&#x2019;re left rolling out elements that don&#x2019;t necessarily push meaningful user engagement back through the mothership.
The reason why is that when all sides of the property can be written, and developed with a consistant voice, this also allows us as co-creators to add perspective and value to the whole IP of the experience, instead of just complementing it.
Some more lessons, we&#x2019;ve discovered.
Establish what you want to achieve and ...
have demarcations of success that get everyone energized.
Know your audience and genre: Don&#x2019;t over reach and hinge your success on mass appeal, instead stay true to your audience and also know what genre you&#x2019;re in and hence how to approach you&#x2019;re genre to tailor your dispurtion of content
Find partners - Work with experts, people who&#x2019;ve done it before, preferably from the bottom up, even if they just act as advisors to add perspective and re-enforce confidence and the construct of the idea with injections of. Don&#x2019;t believe everything they say - Remember to listen to yourself. If you wouldn&#x2019;t do the experience, a mass audience probably wouldn&#x2019;t either. Also find partners who are authentic to the space and audience, if you aren&#x2019;t.
Find advocates - Enfranchise the hardcore users who engage and reward them for their engagement and bringing new users, users who aren&#x2019;t hardcore into the mix. Build out from the core of these users.
If it&#x2019;s a client job, then you need to think with a top down approach (i don&#x2019;t just mean from a corporate level or an established media entity, but it helps but more importantly, top-down creatively. Get your directors and writers on-board, your creative directors, account managers, planners, strategists and especially the marketing directors of the brand. Everyone need to be enfranchised with the idea that it&#x2019;s going to be fun and it&#x2019;s going to connect. You must all have confidence, or the dominos of support will fall and the effort will eventually fail. You&#x2019;ve also got to have all hands on deck to be able to maneuver, create and distribute updating along the way.
The other thing that is really important is to embrace the conversation, feedback and debate that will come if your project resonates. As a creator, you&#x2019;ve built a project that has people talking. This means that they give a shit. now what are you going to do to reward them for that discussion and debate, to address concerns of people who have issues, and to move the conversation so it fundamentally allows fans to help you grow your layers and story world. What mechanisms are you going to put into place to structure conversation and remain in charge of the story?
Keep engaging. This is not a drop and hope for the best scenario. It&#x2019;s a slow build and the peak ofter takes a while to build Dedicate your team to working on the project after launch and increasing the team as behaviour necessitates. Transmedia vehicles cannot be confined to a predetermined media plan or buy.
This is the question that inevitably comes up over and over, and rightly so. As a transmedia creator, and someone who is also running a business, i am also interested in this.
As a partner and marketer, we use transmedia as an effective solution as a partner, we&#x2019;re paid and as a result, the way we think about transmedia and can present that to a client, helps up book work and make money as a client. For these clients, the win is not typically recouping dollar for dollar from a large idea or campaign draws attention and fans to their product/brand or property, they benefit from these additional fans, followers, advocates.
On the other side, there&#x2019;s developing as a content creator, in this way, there are far more ways that a direct relationship of dollars spent to money taken in can happen, because once you have advocates, fans and followers, you can start to tap them and monetize them, whether that&#x2019;s getting the project made through showing support, selling merchandise, a dvd, creating a viable and long lasting community that can be sponsored, or even things like events, viewing parties, all of which people who are enfranchised will support you with.
Loyalty truly the operative word, and it all comes down to a balancing act. The is to balance the users that you provide an experience for and then remain careful about how we extend invitations and manage the interaction with content. Too much is annoying. Not enough can leave the project stagnant.
At it&#x2019;s best, Transmedia development is not simply a loose collection of elements that just surround your project various platforms. Rather, it&#x2019;s about building elements around a core defined story, where each peripheral element has their own unique attributes and functions that are native to that particular touch-point which enables each channel to have it&#x2019;s own voice in the collective arc of a story-line, which when done right, creates conversation inherently.
SXSW 2010 Transmedia Presentation
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