|Mad Men - a great example of unharnessed fan engagement|
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Planning for success in transmedia
A short post on a matter I feel is not taken into consideration enough when drawing up a transmedia project (a failure I’ve been guilty of as well); the challenge to not only dream of success, but actually also plan for it and execute said plans.
When a transmedia project is devised, the plans often stretch as far as a successful rollout and perhaps the distribution of a full season (or episodes or [insert proper term here]). There have, hopefully, been thoughts about continuing the project for more episodes or seasons. There might even have been thoughts on how to use transmedia methods to span the gap between seasons and episodes. What seldom is thought, however, of is how to actually cope with success. Dreaming of success is all good and well, but harnessing success is hard work. Here are three points I feel are valid to take into consideration:
If people like your content, they will want more of it. This could mean not only one season but several, perhaps even many. Your storyline and storyarch will come under scrutiny, your story world should be able to withstand this added toll on its resources and you yourself should be prepared to buckle up and stay in the game for the long run. This could also mean that the value of your content rises considerably, which in turn means added pressure on your legal resources (due to more collaborations, more distribution and production deals, more revenue to consider, more business propositions to address). As success does not turn into money immediately, a contingency plan needs to be made for this aspect as well; line up possible partners well ahead of time, so you don’t have to climb into bed with the first suitor who turns up.
If people like your content, you could possibly have a lot of people suddenly liking your content. This in turn means that you will need to plan for devoting time and resources to community management and social media presence, for answering emails and tweets and for keeping everything coherent and logically connected. A great number of people engaged will also solve your riddles and ARGs quicker, which might result in added pressure on your development team (or you yourself, if you are that development team). This then not to mention the stress a really great number of people will put on your technical resources – servers, connections and so on. Plan for small numbers, but have a contingency plan in hand if the numbers suddenly turn big.
Open up for audience participation
If your content is a storming success people will want to engage more in it. This is where you should be able to offer up sandboxes to create in, or whole vistas if you’re so inclined; invite fan fiction if that suits the bill or why not encourage your audience to create own fan-based social media characters á la Mad Men, if that’s what they fancy (or just about anything else you can think of that fits your project). Or simply add a PayPal button to let them show how much they care by contributing. The point: if people want to engage and create since they like your content so much, you really really should let them.