What is Transmedia?


Recently, I tried to explain the concept of “transmedia storytelling” to some marketing friends.  I eventually drew this image on my whiteboard.  It gives a simplified view of the evolution from multimedia to transmedia and helps convey the ideas of “story elements” and “social participation”.

In marketer-speak “story elements” are like “message maps”.  Since marketers create message maps, sound-bites, speaking points, etc… we can easily grasp the concept of story elements.  Where transmedia breaks the mold is the idea that the story elements are designed to tell a single story across all media.  Today, many marketing orgs are very silo’d and story elements are developed that do not roll-up into a coherent story.  The idea of starting with a single story and then breaking it into elements for multiple media is a slight paradigm shift.

The real  “a-ha” moment is the concept of social participation.  Marketers may conceptualize the brand story and develop the story elements.  But the story that exists in the marketplace is a combination of what marketers say AND what the market says.  Unfortunately, many marketers try to control the brand story by keeping “social participation” in its own silo.   With transmedia, marketers don’t control the story – they enable the story.  They give story elements to the market.  They encourage the market to add, embellish, and play with the elements and then they bring some of those “market created” elements into the official brand story.  By enabling the market to contribute to the story, marketers create a sense of brand ownership which leads to brand fans.  Brand fans are a good thing 🙂

Let me know what else you would add!

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One thought on “What is Transmedia?

  1. The concept of allowing the market to contribute to the brand story is probably the hardest one for most marketing managers to get comfortable with. You can almost hear them saying “what, give up control of my story?!” But the marketplace has changed, and the audience now believes that trust should go both ways….

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