Focus on ... Transmedia storytelling

Charlotte Beckett, head of digital at Four Communications, looks at how charities can use campaigns which span both social media and the real world

Conspiracy for Good was a game that people could play both online and in real life
Conspiracy for Good was a game that people could play both online and in real life

Stories - we gather ours together, talk about them in various places, increase our supporter numbers and then tell them more to increase their commitment. We add in new media as it comes along and talk about integration - one big idea across all touch points.

This linear approach is simple but is losing its efficiency - it doesn't account for people as social beings, helping each other and sharing information, building their own stories. Transmedia storytelling is about creating non-linear stories, using crowds to build up the narrative, feeding them pieces in multiple formats. The creative industries have used such techniques for years. Here are some examples from which we might take our cues.

Immerse people The Conspiracy for Good was an alternative reality game and social movement that featured real people and fictional characters. People took part online and in the real world by solving puzzles, helping the characters and even becoming them at events. More than nine million people were reached and 250,000 actively immersed. The result was the Nokia partnership with Room To Read to build five libraries in Zambia.

Reward people Extracts from the rapper Jay-Z's autobiography were placed in formats as varied as Cadillacs, wall plaques and burger wrappers. Using clues planted in social media and an online game, users piece together a digital version of the book, earning the chance to read it before publication.

Convert people From the moment the only Audi A3 in the US was "stolen" in 2005, the Art Of Heist blurred the line between fantasy and reality. This 90-day live-action thriller became a sensation, and fan sites were set up in its honour.

We might not have Hollywood-sized budgets, but isn't it time we told stories in a way that allowed people to discover as little or as much as they need before they start campaigning or making donations?

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