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How to Use Transmedia to Build Your Online Presence

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This article was originally written for the online magazine, Sparksheet. To read the original, click here.

Storytelling is an act of cultural preservation. From drawing on a cave wall to commenting on a friend’s Facebook status, the desire to share information is innate.

But in an age where the proliferation of stories spans multiple channels, how do organizations get their stories out to an increasingly fragmented audience?

Enter transmedia.

A transmedia refresher

Transmedia storytelling employs various media to deliver a narrative. The goal, to paraphrase JWTIntelligence, is for different channels to communicate different parts of the story, with an emphasis on creating a brand community.

popular example would be the companion media to 2003 film, The Matrix Reloaded. The Animatrix, an original series of animated shorts, was released in tandem with Matrix-themed comic books and video games to deepen the narrative beyond the boundaries of the film.

Image via madoocinema.com

Transmedia storytelling also creates a variety of entry points at which audiences can interact.

Take adaptations of the Harry Potter books, for example, where condensed, picture-centric versions have been developed to attract younger readers to the book series.

Then there is Joss Whedon’s cult phenomenon, Firefly. Despite the show’s dedicated following, the Fox flop only lasted a single season. In 2010, a group of die-hard fans came together to create Browncoats: Redemption, with the support of Big Damn Fan Films, Inc. (BDFF), a non-profit organization devoted to supporting charities through fan-made films. In Firefly, the Browncoat independence fighters are the protagonists of the show.

BDFF reached out to Firefly fans through various social networking channels to find a critical mass of followers to take part in the project. This allowed for crowd-sourced readings of the script, behind-the-scenes footage from fans and the creation of an in-the-flesh Redemption conference.

The film company was also able to leverage the fan base to raise money for several charities selected by the cast and creator of the original series.

Image via fireflyfans.net

The value of transmedia

Why should brands embrace transmedia storytelling?

  • Transmedia allows brands such as BDFF to foster a devoted audience and extend their reach to different demographics and communities.
  • Transmedia allows consumers to express themselves on their own terms and through established networks.
  • By encouraging people to create their own stories and content, transmedia branding allows for crowd-sourced open innovation, a process that could lead to new revenue streams and a treasure trove of relevant content.

As content creation becomes a shared responsibility between brand and audience, the person formerly known as the customer becomes a full-on co-creator and brand evangelist.

Worth telling a story, don’t you think?

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About the Author: Ja-Naé Duane, Director of Social Media at Overdrive, is a marketing strategist and the author of “How to Start Your Business with $100.” She’s been featured in dozens of media outlets, including Associated Press, NPR and Business Week. Her next book, “How to Create Revolution: A Step-By-Step Guide from History’s Social Influencers” is due out in the fall. Connect with her on Twitter: @TheSunQueen

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