Transmedia Storytelling

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 the Data Diaries 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? Tell me in our Free Slack Community, Analytics for Marketers


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