Transmedia Storytelling: An Introduction

I consider it a privilege to watch any industry evolve in lieu of innovation.  Some consider change a threat, while others move with the tide.  But it’s really more than a tide.  Tides move in and out, but the substance of that tide remains the same, returning to its previous state.  However, with innovative evolution, something new emerges from combining elements of old.  Such is the case with storytelling.

Sharing stories are not necessarily told now through one channel alone.  Instead, the most effective practice involves employing multiple channels to tell varying dynamics of a single story.  This is called “Transmedia Storytelling.”  Unlike ‘crossmedia,’ where a story contained within one form is spread across different technological platforms (i.e. TV to PC to tablet to smart phone), ‘transmedia’ builds a universe around the story. The essence of the story is blown outside the boundaries of its initial scripting.  For example: During a film’s production, social media campaigns create ‘buzz’, while interactive evangelists create surrounding worlds through games and other tactile activities.  There are many ways to approach transmedia, but the core concept is to involve audiences beyond the traditional one-way exhibition, creating, as Brian Cain of Story Lab says, a “persistent experience across multiple platforms.”   


There are still some audience members who prefer non-involvement.  But for those of us who want more ‘context,’ or want the story to continue farther outside its narrative, transmedia campaigns broaden the playing field.  Brian Cain says that, in his podcast titled, “The Story of Transmedia Marketing Stories,” transmedia is about enriching the “story world” by letting fans take over the brand.  Through ‘touch,’ that emotional and psychological investment deepens the experience on a very personal and individual level.  It becomes theirs.  They become a part of it, determining the lifespan of a brand.

This begins my series on Transmedia Storytelling’s essential role in various forms of media exploration, marketing strategies, and brand positioning. All things start with a story worth telling.  How that story is told will determine its relevance and resonance to, and the impact on the audience – or customer. The transmedia strategy has proved to be incredibly effective in achieving these goals.