INBOX INSIGHTS, May 11, 2022: Transmedia Storytelling, Marketing Channels, AI and Culture

INBOX INSIGHTS: Transmedia Storytelling, Marketing Channels, AI and Culture (5/11) :: View in browser

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Transmedia Storytelling

All too often when working with clients I see the same issue over and over. The marketing strategy is focused on individual digital channels, and not the story they want to tell. When you focus on the digital channels first they tend to become siloed and not complimentary.

Chris explores this further in today’s Data Diaries (below) but when looking at the data to see what marketers consider to be the most important digital channels, we see the same three over and over: social media, email marketing, and content marketing.

There are a lot of missed opportunities when you narrow your focus to a few digital channels.

When thinking about your marketing strategy, stop thinking about what channels you can use, but rather, what is your story? Why? Because then you can weave a cohesive narrative across channels. This is Transmedia Storytelling.

Transmedia Storytelling is telling the same story across multiple digital platforms. You know who does this well? The entertainment industry. When a movie is about to be released you start to see it crop up everywhere you go online. The marketing departments are thinking beyond posting “hey this movie is coming got watch it”. They are thinking about how people interact on different platforms and how to adapt the story. On social media platforms, they might find fans to discuss plots, characters, easter eggs, and conspiracies. Through email, they might include exclusive behind-the-scenes photos that you can only get from the VIP newsletter. They could create an app that allows users to play games related to the movie. Then, you’ve enabled the fan base to start sharing the stories on their own sites and other platforms – and the reach of the movie keeps going and going.

You get the idea. This isn’t a new concept. So why are we doing such a poor job of this? Because we tend to think channel first, story second. You need to reverse your thinking.

Story First

What is the story you want to tell? Is it about your company? Your products? What is the point of the story and what do you want your audience to get out of it? Each story should try to hit the 3Es: Educational, Entertaining, and Engaging. This is where you want to dig deep into the details. The more detailed your story is, the more content you’ll have to work with across various digital channels. If your story lacks depth, you’ll struggle to disseminate your story in multiple places, in multiple formats.

Channel Second

Now that you have your story, you can figure out the best way to disseminate it. This is where we go wrong. We worry about what channels we have access to and construct a story to fit those channels. You can use your attribution report to see what channels are bringing your audience to your site. You can also see where they are in their customer journey. This will guide you in breaking down your story into different channels and phases of the journey.

You see an example of how we’ve used attribution reporting here.

A simple example focusing on the story first is the Trust Insights podcast. Every week, we record our podcast with video. This allows us to repurpose the video and audio. In addition, we repurpose the transcript, giving us long and short-form content. We can then edit the audio and video down to use across different social channels. We can quote the podcast in the newsletter. While we’re recording, we don’t worry about how well the story we’re telling will work on a single channel. We focus on the story first. We try to make sure it is engaging, educational, and entertaining. If you hit those points, dissemination will be easy.

Start with your story and then worry about your channels. If you start with the digital channels you might be restricting your ability to reach your audience.

What is your story?

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– Katie Robbert, CEO

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Data Diaries - Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, we dig into topic modeling again. As we were preparing for last week’s livestream about AI and marketing channels, one of the questions I had was what marketing channels were on marketers’ minds. When you hear the term “marketing channels”, what comes to mind?

When I think about this term, things like email marketing, direct response, social media marketing, etc. all spring to mind. Similar things probably pop into your head as well. But how would we get to know what’s on marketers’ minds? One of the simplest ways to do this is to investigate what content is being written on the topic. After all, the content we consume often shapes our point of view. So when we look at more than 8,000 articles on the topic of content marketing, what do we find as the most common phrases?

Topic Model

What we see are a few basic buckets:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Organic search
  • Paid search
  • SMS marketing
  • Direct marketing
  • Performance marketing

Here’s the big question: is this all there is to marketing today? Thousands of articles online seem to think so. There are, of course, plenty of sub-categories; Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc. all fall under the banner of social media. Video, audio, podcasts, streaming, etc. all fall under content.

What’s missing? At a glance, things like broadcast media – TV, radio, and print – are a glaring omission. Public relations is missing. Community marketing, mobile marketing (especially apps), and word of mouth marketing are missing.

What’s really missing is what Katie pointed out in the opening section. Content marketing is horizontal – you create your story, then you fit it to the formats that it works best in, and only then do you find the appropriate channels for those formats. When we reconsider the list of top marketing channels above, they are indeed mechanisms for distributing content, but there’s not a ton of data hinting at the overall comprehensive strategy.

Now, obviously there’s a bit of a bias; articles about marketing channels would be expected to discuss marketing channels the most; perhaps we might see different results if we focused on marketing strategy as the overall topic. However, things like storytelling and content strategy should be in there SOMEWHERE, even if they’re not super prominent. Their absence is telling in how marketers are being conditioned to think about marketing channels – be sure you haven’t fallen into that trap!

Disclosures and Methodology: Trust Insights extracted 8,509 articles about marketing channels from the AHREFS SEO software platform. Articles were limited to those that had at least 1 pageview and the main focus was marketing channels, then filtered to the top 50% of articles by traffic. The timeframe of the data is April 30, 2021 – May 9, 2022. The date of study is May 10, 2022. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

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