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Experimenting with Stories: Transmedia – Storytelling vs. Marketing

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Angelique Toschi smallWhen I’m talking to people about transmedia and cross-platform storytelling, and the addition of  character twitter feeds, blogs, character facebook pages, etc. the most common comment I receive is – “Oh, that’s just Marketing”. There is an idea that this type of “thing” is solely to drum up interest, create buzz, and encourage fan engagement. None of these are a bad thing, however they are missing an important element, the storytelling one. By thinking about these tools and outlets, such as social media, character blogs, live events, alternate reality games, and even books (e-book or standard) and comics, at the onset of a project you can fully incorporate them into the story. In addition, they can be used to expand character stories or tell stories that may not be told “on-screen”. Done correctly this will generate that “buzz” needed to cut through the noise, without sounding like another commercial or 15-second elevator pitch.

Here are some of the things to think about that can help you expand your story beyond a single screen:

  1. Are any social media additions you may want to make (Twitter, Facebook character fan pages, Tumblr, blogs) natural for your characters? Would the characters normally engaged in this behavior if they were real people?
  2. How would the characters use the social media tools? Would they use them to connect with their fans (such as @WriteRCastle does)? Or would they use them to show their individual style and personality through music (like @GGDarcy)? Use the character’s personalities to help you decide how they would use any additional form of media.
  3. Is there a story that isn’t being told on screen that is compelling enough to engage an audience? It is important that this can be a stand alone story, so it’s not only available for those wishing to delve deeper into the narrative of the world, but can serve as an entry point for new audiences.
  4. Do you have various levels of depth to satisfy the needs of different types of audiences? Some audiences will want more interaction then others, from the superfan to the casual viewer. Any additional material should have various elements to appeal to different types of fans.
  5. Did you think about the above ideas at the beginning of your project? This is crucial! It is much easier to integrate transmedia and cross-platform storytelling at the beginning of the writing process then after a story has been completed, edited, and ready to go. This is the true difference between telling a story with various forms of media (old and new) and just providing a marketing campaign for your creative work.

Thank you for reading. If you have any specific topics you’d like me to touch upon, please let me know in the comments below!

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About Angelique Toschi

Angelique Toschi is a social media professional who is active in multiple social media communities. She uses her BA in English from UCLA and MA in Mass Communications, Advertising from Cal State Fullerton to help her create strategies and write social media content for various clients across multiple industries. Some of her current and former clients in the entertainment industry have included The International Academy of Web Television, web series “Lenox Avenue”, and Transmedia LA. She also currently handles social media and corporate communications for Shakey’s USA, Inc. (57 locations across the US).