Has your company’s storytelling gone “transmedia”?

First, this blog post is admittedly long overdue. We promised a post-SXSWi panel in March, and . . .  let’s just say it’s taken us a while to fully recover from the madness.

We appreciate those that came to the Omni to listen to our panel on Social Flubs (listen to the podcast). It was a lively discussion with some great feedback.

One of the top buzzwords heard at SXSWi was “transmedia”. Interestingly this term is neither new or revolutionary. Transmedia (or transmedia storytelling), instead, is a little spit and polish on some communication strategies that are tried and true.

So what in the hell is “transmedia”?

Sounds like something from a D-grade movie, eh. Not even close. One of the best panels I sat in on at SXSW featured the transmedia team from Bravo TV with special guests Andy Cohen and Tom Colicchio (sigh!). They defined transmedia as “multi-platform storytelling beyond the linear screen that fosters a unique two-way fan/cast relationship.”

Okay, that’s a little broad. Screen Australia takes it one step further by explaining transmedia, as “each element making distinctive contributions to a user’s understanding of the story universe, including where user actions affect the experience of content across multiple platforms.”

Bravo TV and AMC TV are doing transmedia right!

Popular in the entertainment industry, transmedia is redefining the consumer experience. On the last season of Top Chef, Bravo TV introduced us to their “Last Chance Kitchen”. This gave viewers the opportunity to continue their love affair with Top Chef’s ousted cheftestants by running a separate contest behind the scenes that was only viewable via the Top Chef website.

In addition to utilizing the online channel, Top Chef continued their Fan Favorite contest where viewers vote for their favorite cheftestant via text.

Lastly, they added a games section to the site for further audience participation (uh, distraction). It’s a brilliant strategy that fully engages the viewer and helps foster their relationship with the show and the channel.

How about all of the fun the execs at AMC are having with Mad Men? You can create a Mad Men Yourself  avatar, play fan trivia quizzes, see if you have what it takes to work at Sterling, Cooper, Draper and Pryce by taking a job interview or download mobile apps and games to your smartphones.

How can your company become transmedia?

Don’t let the big word fool you. Remember, this isn’t a new concept. For years marketing and communication pros have preached multi- or cross-channel communications. As a matter of fact, it’s long been one of my communications doctrines. Transmedia isn’t really that ‘different’. We are still communicating a consistent message across all media channels; but now we’re utilizing digital media channels while asking audiences to play along.

Here are some ideas for incorporating transmedia storytelling in your communications strategy. Try running  a contest that plays out on Pinterest, but is promoted via Facebook. By incorporating  status/pin updates and promotional links on your website, you’re engaging in a more personal, interactive way with your audience.

Consider creating a game that resides on your website, and at the end of the game has the user participate in a phone survey.

Or have your audience create a video or take a picture with one of your products and post it to Facebook or Pinterest. Turn it into a fun, audience-engaging contest!

Let your imagination go wild! Do you have any ideas you’d like to share here? We’d love to hear them and promise not to use them without your permission. Come on – post your ideas here!


Image by Ogilvy

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