Let’s be clear… when it comes to the conversations around concepts such as ‘multiplatform’, ‘Transmedia’, ‘Immersive’ – there is just one, simple fact that we are dealing with: audience’s behaviors are changing because they have more control over when, where and how they consume stories.
Good storytelling has always been an important part of any marketing strategy but when we talk about digital marketing the core concepts need to be considered differently. ‘Digital’ doesn’t mean online platforms or using technology – those are just the tools. ‘Digital’ means ‘active audience engagement’. The ‘active’ is because there is no longer a linear delivery of story to the passive consumer – they can talk back, co-create and have more control over, not only, consumption but also directing what content they want.
We have to create story environments that are driven by ‘theme ecologies’ that have emotional resonance before creating any content strategy. The first question has to always be: “What is the core emotional (thematic) question you are asking of the audience? Remember – it’s a dialogue and not a monologue! So start a conversation…
The technology available is now ubiquitous to the point that it is a part of their lives rather than an option. This clearly depicts that audiences have more creative power and so, when developing ideas, we are no longer telling them stories but sharing with them through a ‘connected dialogue’. There is a real potential to create story worlds to encourage a wider and longer lasting reach and, through more immersive and interactive engagement, to gain emotional resonance from a much earlier point in the strategy.
There are, however, implications!
Firstly, audiences (content consumers) are becoming content creators. As more choices become available there is a move towards being able to direct the story you are engaged with. This is why the move from linear delivery needs be less of a framework and more of ecology. The stories depend on the imagination of the users and the outcomes have a need for share ability, so that anyone can come and play. Choice was always key but now it is about being able to choose the choices that can be made.
Secondly – we are in an industry that is about designing experiences for emotional engagement. This has always been the case but with the shift described above – this is needed in more detail and with more immediacy. If the experience you design is now more short form and interactive then there are various places where audiences can enter the story world and get involved.
This means that we need to really grasp all the elements of the engagement process and be able to deliver emotional resonance at a heightened level. The point is that alongside the increased value, the fragmentation of the notion of ‘an experience’ puts more pieces of the puzzle in the hands of different user groups across various media landscapes. The key shift, therefore, is from a linear mode of interaction (as a facet of these experiences) to one where multiple touch points can form parts of an overarching interactive experience. In short – story is like software. Use it as a way to talk to and build a community with your, more active, consumers.