HOW TO TELL A TRANSMEDIA STORY
Transmedia Storytelling is a nascent Marketing methodology that involves creating a multi-platform narrative that audiences can participate in. Its aims are to create opportunities for deep engagement between brands and their audiences, drive awareness, encourage social sharing and cultivate long term relationships.
Transmedia Storytelling is a planned, proactive process that can really help organisations clarify what, where, when, why and how to use the range of online communications channels out there, without getting stuck in a digital rut.
Indigo Multimedia Audience Engagement Consultant, Caroline Greener, has 7 years experience of Transmedia Storytelling, creating engaging campaigns for a range of B2B and B2C organisations wishing to capitalize on a multi-channel approach to Marketing.
So how does it work? There are three steps that will get the story started…
In the beginning…
…decide on your story. This could be big or small (sometimes it’s best to start small). For one small arts organization the story was a ‘round the world printmaking relay’ happening over one weekend. For Sunderland Students’ Union it was the Student Elections month. For a national Charity it was a call to action to sign a petition over the period of six months. The main thing is to identify a single message with a strong narrative and give it a timescale. The end of your story is as important as the beginning as it provides the reason for a call to action and a sense of urgency towards the resolution.
In the middle…
…decide on the platforms you will deploy and use creative convergence to identify and use the best in-platform Marketing tools. For example:
- Hash tags
- Search engine
- Referral traffic
- Disseminating socially
In the end…
…EVALUATE! Did your story enthrall, did it engage, or did it send everyone to sleep? Setting benchmarks, targets and gathering data throughout the campaign will enable you to judge whether it worked. Finding out what doesn’t work is just as useful as identifying successful tactics.
Going Digital With University of Sunderland Students’ Union
The University of Sunderland Students’ Union (USSU) elections campaign had three distinct phases. The first phase was ‘LEAD’ – an engagement campaign to encourage students to nominate themselves for one of the Exec positions. ‘ASK’ – the second phase campaign encouraged students to ask questions of the candidates. Once the Question Time events were over, the final message was ‘VOTE’.
Deep content was created for publication on the new website, including text, images and video. This content provided seeds for social media posts, which were planned up to 7 days in advance. Pre-planning social media posts helped to ensure fairness of coverage and the same trackable ‘bitly’ link could be used in numerous posts over several days, providing an added dimension of data around engagement. This data revealed that competitions and candidate manifestos were the most popular types of links, and also that students were almost twice as likely to click a link from Facebook than Twitter.
A hash tag #runsunderlandSU was used on Twitter and Instagram to encourage engagement. Question Time was hailed ‘best ever’ by candidates due to the number of attendees and the buzz created. A live twitter commentary was published, and questions were posed using the hash tag, adding a new element to the occasion and enabling students from the University’s external campuses to join in the conversation remotely.
Instagram was added to the digital mix through a subsidiary engagement campaign called the People Poster – an ‘infinite democracy’ project featuring students holding posters of people within posters of people. Images were tagged #runsunderlandSU and shared instantly via the app to Twitter and Facebook, where students could tag themselves in the pictures, gaining viral traction.
A Facebook competition app was installed on the Union’s page to drive likes and engagement with the elections. The competition was fan-gated so that students had to like the Union page to enter the competition, and pledge to vote in order to enter the prize draw for an iPad. The app then auto-published a statement about the competition to their timeline once they entered. While the need to pledge to vote no doubt put some people off it avoided the risk of gaining lots of new Facebook fans with no real interest in the Union apart from the iPad!
Deputy Chief Executive Mike Wallbank concludes, “Overall, the University of Sunderland Students’ Union elections campaign in 2013 can be described as a genuine ‘Transmedia Story’ – a time-limited, highly targeted exercise in digital engagement. And by engagement, we mean that at every level our audience was invited to contribute to and evolve the story. ‘Going digital’ has revitalized the democratic process for staff and students alike.”
- Klout.com is a web app that measures online influence. Taking into account engagements such as likes, shares, comments, retweets across all social channels, the system calculates your ‘klout’ score out of 100. USSU’s klout score increased by 13 points during the three-week elections campaign.
- #runsunderlandSU was used over 500 times on twitter and instagram
- Facebook engagement increased by 163%, and total reach increased by 443%
- 1,230 clicks on bitly links
- Record 26 student candidates for 9 Exec roles
- Record attendance for Question Time events
- 10.9% voter turnout, double the 2011 figure