The World Is Flat: Will Transmedia Overtake Social Media?

March 24th, 2010 |

One of my favorite panels from SXSWi asked an increasingly important question concerning digital marketing and online storytelling: “Transmedia 2010, are we there yet?”

Presented by Daniel Lorenzetti and Juan Garcia, the panel looked at the adoption of transmedia storytelling tactics by major media outlets. For those who are just reading about transmedia for the first time, it was first defined by USC professor Henry Jenkins:

“Transmedia is not that new of a concept, but the emergence of today’s social and mobile networking technologies, combined with the myriad of entry points to brand messaging, meaning that transmedia storytelling should be central to every marketing effort, online or otherwise.”

Put simply, transmedia storytelling aims to engage consumers at every entry point by extending a story. This type of storytelling is already commonplace with TV shows like The Office, 30 Rock, and Community where branded web extras are advertised during the airing of the show itself. In this way, advertisers are extending the story from the small screen to the web.

While this is fine and dandy, and also an interesting way to extend a story from TV to the web, many social media purists are asking, “Where’s the interaction? Where’s the engagement?  The power of social media lies in the two-way conversation between brand and consumer! How do these branded web extras create engagement, NBC?”  Those are valuable questions to ask.

The future of transmedia storytelling will offer a greater level of engagement than anything we have seen with social media thus far. Check this out:

If I Can Dream” is a new web based reality show from American Idol creator Simon Fuller. Five young men and women, looking for stardom, live in a house in Los Angeles with cameras in every nook and cranny. There are even cameras in their cars. While this may seem just like Big Brother, there is a twist – users can interact directly with the members of the house through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as the story unfolds. This is a new level of engagement, a new level of reality television. What’s more? Similar to American Idol, you help choose who will become a star. The user has a direct impact on which housemate will achieve stardom.

This marks a new level of user engagement in a storyline – you have control of the outcome, or at the very least, an illusion of control, and you get to interact with characters as the story unfolds.

If I Can Dream

So is this new level of engagement better described as social media or as transmedia? Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel Prager

SXSW Text!! Group Text from Brightkite, Oh Yes

March 17th, 2010 |

Local Texans in Austin are either grumbling about the slew of youths and db’s about to infiltrate their fair city, or rubbing their palms together for the tourist payday as the 24th Annual Music & Media Conference, South By Southwest, gets going (or should I say, growing). With social media, networking, technology, branding power, and everything else expanding faster than child obesity, so does SXSW and the amount of attendees.

The Interactive and Film portion kicked off on March 12th with trade shows, conferences, discussion panels, celebrity interviews, and film screenings, industry parties, etc. The big balls officially drop on the 17th, as bands from far and wide will melodically mount and rotate the 80-plus stages in downtown Austin. It’s hard to imagine the scope of planning that goes into the non-stop schedule, and if you think you have your itinerary all mapped out, think again. It’s going to get messy once the texts start pouring in – “Go see this show”, “Come to such-and-such film” – and your days become 90% planning, totally souring what should be a liberating mood.

So, we can all count our blessings for phones with email and the “what-the-f*ck did we do before” invention of text…but, like the dearly departed Corey Haim, everything has its limits. For example, if you’re at SXSW, you might text a group of friends, and then you get a text back, you respond, you get one from someone else and you fill them in on what you already heard back, and thus begins the chaotic cycle of simply trying to meet up with your goddamned friends. Sucks to be popular, don’t it?!?

Well, for you high-in-social-demand types, scratch the above time-consuming malarkey. With the new Brightkite Group Text, you can hit all your loyal buddies at once and start a big old text-versation – including pics.  You can use it from your computer, iPhone, iPhone touch, even if you’re not a member of Brightkite. With it, you can still text back from your phone and it will go to everyone on the list in the Group Text. It’s like the “Reply All” of texting. But the awesome thread is still saved with Brightkite, if – unthinkable as it seems – you can’t remember last night.

But for those of you looking to downsize your phone bill, you can cancel that bastard and use Brightkite’s Group Text for all your texting needs. Then meet up with your friends and borrow their phone!  Bite me, Verizon – can you hear me now, bitch?

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Rocky Mills