What is Transmedia?
Transmedia is simply a form of storytelling where multiple platforms tie together to tell a common story.
A pop-culture and historical example includes television series such as Heroes; where a comic, action figure, web series, and television show all intertwined to tell different portions of the same story. Another good example of transmedia in action includes franchises like Microsofts HALO series where different segments of the story have been shared through console games, action figures, comic books, and feature novels.
The Transmedia evolution
While the origin of transmedia can be greatly debated, the reality is that a holistic form of storytelling and building a brand franchise has existed for decades. For traditional examples of transmedia in action you only need to think about titles like Star Wars, Star Trek, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Harry Potter that have all made successful ventures into transmedia brands that tell a ‘much bigger story’ when you’ve consumed everything they have.
The Digital Impact
In my previous articles about owned, shared, syndicated, and search media, the application of transmedia into a digital franchise has been an elusive goal.
The largest hurdles to successfully building and maintaining a transmedia brand that bridges the real world vs digital world exist in these areas:
Brand Control, you have to have flavor
When you think about the variety of media that could be involved in a transmedia campaign you need to give a lot of thought about what that brand is. You can’t simply take a water-downed brand and expect it to survive being in a dozen different media channels at once. You need to instill a sense of ideology, culture, and emotion that defines exactly how the brand makes people feel.
Fan Engagement, help them, help you, help them
In a world of global audiences with limitless amounts of branding being thrown at them 24/7, having a strategy to successfully empower the people who love you most. Regardless of the flavor you have, there are thousands (if not millions) of like-minded people who are struggling to discover each other and be involved in a community.
Broadcast Static, don’t be an episode of the Twilight Zone
The web is currently like a broken television channel with nothing but noise. Supporters who love your brand are challenged to ‘tune in’ on any specific frequency and watch the show they love. In a world of information overload our audiences are growing more and more accustomed to ‘opting in’ and subscribing to information they want and love. Make it easy to find your channel. Make it easy to tell other people about it.
Digital Insight, don’t touch that dial.
We live in an age of information where brands can actually know when someone does touch the dial. Advanced search and social analytics tell us where you went, what you liked, who you know, when you did it, and paint a picture of why you probably had the experience you did. As brands (and as individuals) we should pay particular attention to the promise we make as a transmedia brand.
Audience Trends, ride the train – don’t get under it
As part of the digital insights we are capable of gleaming a good understanding of where online and real world trends are occurring allows transmedia efforts on specific channels that have strengths with a specific audience trend. This allows us to engage audiences and maximize strengths and weaknesses.
Inspirational Technology, to be human is to feel.
The adoption of different social technologies is driven (in my honest opinion) by the human need to find people who share common ideas and beliefs. We typically accomplish this by discovering things we like… and eventually we reverse engineer the situation to discover the like-minded people who cluster around the ‘things.’ By understanding how technology allows us to discover, analyze, and share information to find like-minded relationships we are empowered to grow communities of fans around the globe.
News Flash – We’ve all gone transmedia!
If you happen to be one of the people who haven’t personally engaged in transmedia, congratulations.
The other 99.9% of us have adopted a true transmedia lifestyle where our personal stories have slices of our lives told to different people. Some of us have one, five, or a hundred transmedia channels covering Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, websites, social platforms, wireless networks, and more.
In hindsight not many of us have made the leap to create graphic novels about our lives or created a feature film about our college years, but there are a good number of family albums and Facebook groups that we share specific stories on.
That’s my take on Transmedia.
Do you have an insight on ‘what is transmedia?’
Would love to hear your thoughts on it.
If you want to get a bigger picture, take a moment to browse through some of my other definitions about owned, earned, syndicated, hyper, and search media. When you have a grasp of these basic elements we can start having some really interesting discussions!