The marketing landscape is changing rapidly with the advent of new technologies. There are more ways for a brand to engage a consumer than ever. The days of conveying a sales message is long gone. It is the time of storytelling. Technology fascinates people but consumers want to be engaged beyond that. They will interact and buy into a brand only if they have a sentimental bond with it. Strong stories evoke and strengthen sentimental bonds. This is where transmedia storytelling plays a vital role.
What is Transmedia Storytelling?
As Henry Jenkins describes it, transmedia storytelling is narrating a single story across multiple digital platforms. Creating an experience that engages consumers across various media channels is a key element of transmedia storytelling. The narrative should remain the same but the content can be tailored to suit each channel. Some elements of transmedia storytelling are:
- Uniform narrative
- Engaging experience
- Audience engagement
- Content must be unique to each channel
How does transmedia storytelling fit into marketing?
This is better explained in the form of a story. The other day, I was checking my social media new feeds and I came across a video of an exciting t-shirt brand. It was the documentary about the ‘life of a t-shirt.’ The link redirected me to their website which was optimized for smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The website had a link to download their interactive mobile application. We could customize a t-shirt with our own designs using the application and order for it. After the t-shirt was delivered, we had to shoot a video wearing the t-shirt and upload it on social media channels and YouTube to enter a contest. The video of the winner would be uploaded on YouTube and the company’s website.
The above example clearly shows how the company created content which was consistent across multiple platforms but each part had elements designed to engage consumers on multiple devices. User-generated content was treated as an extension of the transmedia narrative.
Changing Content Consumption Patterns
Consumer consumption trends in terms of content is changing rapidly. They are not restricted to just television sets or newspaper anymore. The advent of new media devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart television sets, to name a few, have radically changed the playing field for marketing. The infographic below shows the changing media consumption patterns of consumers.
Consumers are now looking for deeper, more engaging experiences with brands. Having a strong digital presence is critical for a brand to exist in the minds of the consumer. Shared brand experience across multiple platforms is a key element of digital marketing. Behavioral trends show that Transmedia Storytelling might be the best framework for the future of digital marketing.
Consumers play an important role in a transmedia story narrative. They are sometime part of the story or they help spread the story. Some of the common ways in which consumers become a part of the narrative are:
- User-generated content about the brand
- Reviews and ratings
- Shares, Likes, and Tweets on social media
Involving the consumer in the brand story creates a sentimental bond between the consumer and the brand. The bond strengthens with further interaction with the brand. The consumers feel invested in a brand.
The below graph illustrates how consumers are participating in creating content for brands.
The need for marketers to be good storytellers is increasing. The flow of content across multiple channels is almost inevitable. Consumers have started interacting with brands across multiple devices and Transmedia Storytelling is an excellent framework to create an engaging story that appeals to this emerging segment of consumers.