Transmedia Storytelling Cookbook: from Digital to a Multiplatform Approach

Marketers and designers are finally moving into a new era – the era of transmedia. The previous era, which was characterized by a huge platform obsession approach, is over. But what does it all mean?

transmedia storytelling cookbook

How many times have you heard an argument about what the next killer app should be for the iPad?

Well, this phase seems to be coming to an end, and yes, we are moving into a period of delivering something more meaningful for the users. The value of a modern storytelling technique is bundled into a new buzzword, transmedia.

What is Transmedia?

Transmedia is a storytelling technique, which happens across multiple media platforms, but in a platform appropriate way.

Content is spread across several media simultaneously. It’s not just about digital media, but also a combination of several traditional channels or a combination of both, such as the environment, radio, TV, web, mobile, etc.

3 Main Phases of Development
But what does this mean in practice? We can divide transmedia development process in 3 main phases: concept development, distribution and growth. Each phase is characterized by emotional investment, social mechanics, participation and care.

1. Transmedia concept development: Emotional investment
During the concept development process, you need to answer 3 basic questions:

  • What is the story I want to tell?
  • What is the best way to tell the story?
  • Why should anyone care?

While designing for transmedia have in mind that the story evolves and spreads when people feel connected.

transmedia storytelling content triggers
Content Triggers (Source: by Reuben Halper, Advertising Program Manager – Google/Youtube)

2. Distribution Models: Social mechanics
Distribution models are rapidly changing, challenging designers and strategists on how things are made, distributed and consumed.

By building engaging stories, we always take people somewhere else, exploring new ways of how to earn and keep attention. We drive them from a platform to platform to consume our story; but we don’t let them be passive.

While designing the distribution strategy, the main questions you have to answer are:

  • How will I deliver the story?
  • What kind of user participation do I want to achieve?

Social mechanics can be predesigned by answering the following questions:

  • Why should anyone pay attention to my story?
  • Why should anyone care?
  • Why should they share?
  • Why should they return?

3. Growth: Participation and Care
Start by considering audience’s behavior, but don’t apply rules; let information become your intuition.

Transmedia Storytelling in Practice

1. Building Storyworlds, the art, craft & biz of storytelling in the 21st Century
Building Storyworlds is a book about the process and design theory of how we build immersive storytelling experiences, written by Lance Weiler, the pioneer of transmedia thinking and practice.

“Using the limitations of Twitter, each page of this book was written in 140 characters or less. This theme is then carried further as the book will be published in a limited edition 140-copy run. An experiment in scarcity and abundance, each page of the book says ‘set this book free please retweet’,” says Weiler. So it isn’t surprising that the book costs $140.

2. Classical train: Enjoy the music
Imagine entering a train and being treated with one of the most beautiful rides of your life.

Copenhagen Philharmonic performed Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt on a crowded metro train. It just goes to prove that classical music doesn’t have to be played in concert halls or only be enjoyed by a limited group of people. They brought music back to the streets and vice versa, from streets back into the theatre using public space, radio and web as channels of concept distribution.

3. The Spiral
The Spiral is a five-episode participative TV series that challenges users and centers them on the search for the six stolen paintings.

“Arturo is a mysterious and enigmatic Banksy-like artist known in the art scene for his playful actions against the establishment. He runs The Warehouse, an art community in Copenhagen. Together with six young artists from The Warehouse, he sets up a major stunt: the heist of six major works of art. Arturo and the artists invite the audience to search and find the paintings to create The Spiral, the most valuable work of art.”

The Spiral was broadcast in September 2012 across Europe. The story could be experienced on TV, online and offline.

4. Antigones Dagbok, mobile drama
Kista Teater is a mobile theater that uses technology as a tool to share stories and create a deeper dialogue between people. It brings theater plays closer to the audience through the use of a mobile phone. Participation and the use of the public space are adapted to the standard use of phone, as an object of communication.

Tickets for the Kista Theater plays can be bought via web or text messaging.

The examples above present different transmedia approaches and models. Hope they inspire you in a way to step out of your frame and create something more meaningful for us, the users. But remember, without a good story you have nothing to communicate.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Have you entered this new era of transmedia? What questions do you have about it for Sara?

Subscribe to newsletter