It’s the Audience, Stupid!
In reading my co-bloggers’ initial posts, I was struck by a common theme that can best be summed up by slightly altering Bill Clinton’s old campaign mantra: “It’s the audience, stupid!”
Or as Ingrid said more eloquently, "The trick is to start with the audience and really design an experience for them." She emphasized the importance of choosing the "right tools for the right job," which necessarily means looking at who your audience is and which tools they already use. In my own field of social marketing (meaning marketing of health and social issues, not just social media marketing), we look at the world through the audience's eyes as our lens to design a program that makes the issue relevant to their lives and makes it easy to take action. If we're not going to the media or social networks where the audience is already spending their time, that's a big barrier to entry before they even decide whether to engage!
Lina's post touched on the fact that story -- and the reason for the story -- needs to be at the core of a successful transmedia project. Transmedia storytelling is not about the technology or platforms you use, but how each contributes to your audience's experience of the story. The channels you use are simply a conduit to connect the story to the audience, and the audience to the movement. Build the story architecture to fit the audience, rather than throwing everything plus the kitchen sink in there and hoping something connects.
I loved Robert's very practical tips for starting out in transmedia, and he again emphasizes the audience's role. Beyond making sure that the story premise is clear to the audience and coherent across platforms, a big question is how your audience will be able and willing to participate with the transmedia experience. What is reasonable to expect they will do - share a tweet, email a policymaker, post a video sharing their own story? You need to know your audience well enough to have a good idea of what the call to action should be -- one that's small enough to be easy for them to do and big enough to make an impact.
So how do you make sure that your transmedia storytelling project is audience-centric? Coming back full circle to another Clinton quote, you need to "feel their pain" and identify potential barriers to engagement as well as understanding what will motivate them to get involved with the story. In order to do that, you may need to -- gasp! -- talk to potential members of your audience. And before that, you also need to spend some time get very clear on who, specifically, you are trying to reach (NOT the "general public"!) and what types of people are most likely to be responsive.
Know your audience, build the transmedia story to fit them, and you will be much more likely to be successful in your ultimate goals!