Some of us know how to experience stories told in a shared universe. Like the Marvel or DC Universes, or Star Wars, these additional stories expand upon the core storyworlds we’re already familiar with. The use of social media to help expand the story experience is a newer concept. With multiple media platforms having content that all feeds into the main story narrative, it can be a bit overwhelming at times to know where to start. My hope is that this article can serve as a suggestion on how to experience transmedia storytelling, such as Emma Approved, and the upcoming #Hamlet.
The unique thing about transmedia storytelling that uses social media to engage the audience is the level of participation available. It allows the each audience member to choose the level of storytelling they want to experience. These levels of participation can be categorized in two ways:
Passive Audience: Wishes to enjoy the story by simply watching the webseries on a weekly basis. May or may not follow the characters on social media, but does not engage in conversation with them.
Active Audience: Wishes for a deeper level of participation with the story. Will watch the webseries on a weekly basis, follow characters on social media platforms, interacts with characters.
My suggestion on how to engage with these transmedia storytelling experiences is as follows:
1) Decide if you would like to be an active or passive audience member.
2) Watch episodes as they come out.
3) Learn the rules of the storyworld. This would include what types of posts are “in story” and what is “out of story”, as well as what types of messages the characters will respond to and interact with.
4) Follow and engage with the characters on social media platforms.
5) Engage with fellow audience members to enhance the story experience.
Remember, each transmedia storytelling project may have different rules for how the characters will engage with the audience, depending on how and with what pace they want the story to unfold. An example is the differences in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries experience than the currently running Emma Approved. Co-executive Producer and Story Runner Bernie Su explains the differences here.
Not only does the above help you understand how you can interact with a story, it also helps you build out your own story and think about how you want your audience to experience it. By building in various levels of participation you are allowing different types of audiences to experience your narrative in different ways, hence growing your audience exponentially.
More of my articles on transmedia storytelling can be found here.