Youth Marketing Insights » Henry Jenkins http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg Inspiring best in practice youth marketing through sharing of ideas, strategy, trends and conversations about cool stuff Thu, 04 Feb 2010 04:31:40 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 We are living in a Transmedia World, and I am a Transmedia Girl (Part 2) http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/12/10/we-are-living-in-a-transmedia-world-and-i-am-a-transmedia-girl-part-2/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/12/10/we-are-living-in-a-transmedia-world-and-i-am-a-transmedia-girl-part-2/#comments Thu, 10 Dec 2009 02:43:10 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=172 As promised I wanted to share some thoughts I had about transmedia storytelling and how it relates to brand storytelling. While Transmedia storytelling seems to be an obvious extension of properties such as comic books, we often forget how important the role of storytelling is in brand marketing. Dynamic brands talk to consumers at more than a functional or utility level and cross-media marketing can help us communicate more effectively.

Below are elements I consider important in marketing and idea development as initial guidelines to get us thinking in the right cross-media frame of mind.

  • Start with a central idea, not channels. I find often we want to jump straight to solution in execution – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iPhone app. Yes these are priority platforms but consider the entire ecosystem first as there are many others that might be more effective. Don’t fall into the trap of bandwagon campaigning and most important please keep in mind offline executions as well.
  • Various channels for different audiences. Create different points of entry for different audience segments, for example as Henry Jenkins points out in this Transmedia 101 post, for the Spiderman property consider what link will be particularly attractive to females (a romance comic “Mary Jane Loves Spiderman”) or younger readers (coloring book or picture book versions of the classic comicbook stories ).
  • How does your brand fit within the role or organic nature of these channels. Discuss the nature and the social utility of relevant channels as part of development – outside of your motivations or brand of course. Many good ideas are executed without this insight, resulting in a half-assed branded community somewhere. Strategy is more important than ever so while I wouldn’t criticize for trying something new, I would for not thinking.
  • What is your brand’s participatory culture. Once and for all, adding a share function is not encouraging participation – consider not that you engage with your audience but how you can allow your audience to engage with you.
  • You don’t decide the value, your audience does. This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating great content that will get audiences in social media communities to interact and engage with you. Without the value to the audience, you will get the inevitable “so what?”.

What I love about marketing in today’s culture is it makes you think deeply but connection, engagement and relevance. For those of us not blessed with off the cuff creativity (ahem), what will survive are those brands that value a customer-centric, holistic approach. If you don’t get analysis paralysis and over analyze – it is way more fun.

Image credit, Geoffery Long

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We are living in a Transmedia World, and I am a Transmedia Girl (Part 1) http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/11/03/transmedia-part-1/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/11/03/transmedia-part-1/#comments Mon, 02 Nov 2009 23:51:53 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=170 A great video on transmedia storytelling by Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture. Here Jenkins (my hero BTW) discusses the fundamental shift from spectator culture to participatory culture and inspires us to think of the opportunity presented now that individual voices carry so much weight. This is an intellectual look about how the world is changing – not just media or marketing.

From my perspective I find the concept of multi-platform storytelling especially intriguing as it is fueled by relevant youth marketing trends – the proliferation and popularity of new media forms like video games, social web and mobile platforms, as well as user demand for spreadable content and assets. Each platform makes a unique contribution to the brand narrative, and at the same time build on each other to create a larger story. These stories are non-linear, constantly shifting and ever engaging. What keeps marketers awake at night (figuratively speaking, otherwise take a vacation) is that a growing proportion of this is now formed outside of corporate HQ.

In every challenge is an opportunity and here we find it is in exploring and delivering on every possible media platform to effectively engage an audience. Transmedia storytelling is not a new concept, and sometimes it happens organically for fan-building brands. However this is more than marketing-speak – to me this is Opportunity #1 for thought-leadership in shifting from the old to the new.

Next post I will discuss my ideas on important considerations when developing transmedia brand stories – so stay tuned!

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It’s official, banning viral marketing from my vocabulary http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/08/11/its-official-banning-viral-marketing-from-my-vocabulary/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/08/11/its-official-banning-viral-marketing-from-my-vocabulary/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2009 02:10:17 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=163

Ran across an article on Advertising Age – a book review and interview with author Bill Wasik, the Godfather of flash mobs. In his new book, “And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture,”* he ponders the life (and possible death) of Word-of-Mouth Marketing in a Social-Media World. Mr Wasik notes that with the rise of social networking in which people are familiar with the ideas of personal branding, it poses certain future challenges for marketers – ie the more savvy consumers are, the harder it is to tap into them via social media.

While I have not yet read the book and do not want to misrepresent the context – it has got me thinking. I feel Word-of-Mouth marketing by nature is more important than ever. Research suggests peer influences are very important factors in a customer’s purchase pathway – for items big and small. They also influence perceptions of brands. I also feel social media with peer communities presents heaps of opportunities.

However I agree with the statement that viral marketing might be dead. Perhaps this is because the idea of viral marketing at its foundation is based on old advertising-models. As noted by Henry Jenkins in “If it Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead”** (a must read), the very definition uses a metaphor of viruses being spread involuntarily by unaware consumers. Like Swine Flu. Why would anyone want to be involved with that? The term was created by marketers who were comfortable with disruptive advertising models to hold onto an inflated sense of their role in the process.

But we all know the truth – we (collective we as in the marketing industry ‘we’) have lost control. Unpredictable results in social media campaigns, fueled by unpredictable behavior by consumers, is a source of great anxiety within business. It is a common story – we built it, why didn’t they come?

Therefore I have ditched the term viral and instead adopted Mr Jenkins’ theory of ‘spreadable media’ – which emphasizes the role of consumers, or what he calls ‘multipliers’, in shaping the distribution of content. This notion of spreadability is a direct contrast to outdated models which emphasize centralised control of distribution and message. The power is with those who spread, not those who create.

If as marketers we want to be able to harness and effectively engage the power of WOMM marketing within social media we need to better understand the role we all play.

Here I have developed 3 overarching principles I feel are important when successfully creating spreadable culture and ultimately developing communities. I originally had more but I felt everything else kept falling into these buckets – so this is what I am sticking with:

  • Stop and ask why – without your brand hat on. It can’t be said enough but in order to engage your audience you need understand the motivations – and let me give you a hint – your recent ad campaign 99.9% of the time is not serving the interests of the consumer. Consider what content you are offering and how that is going to strengthen the relationship with your consumer. Another way to look at it is to solve your customer’s issues, instead of your own.
  • If your strategy relies on one video to “go viral to extend reach” – go back to the drawing board. To best integrate into a connected society, you need to provide as many layers as possible, building an ecosystem around the brand. You might want to consider the role of RSS feeds, corporate blog, Twitter, EDM, mobile apps, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Yahoo! Answers, etc – that is not even to mention offline activations which should feed into all these as well. Social media is not “a” channel – it’s is heaps and these should play many roles in your marketing strategies, just not a mere campaign extension as in my opinion that misses the point a bit.
  • Stop thinking of your content as ‘free’, think of it as a gift. As Mr Jenkins notes in his whitepaper, “in a gift economy the gifts we share say something about our perceptions of the person we are passing them to as much as they express our own tastes and interests”. It is important to think that all these interactions should reward your consumers for participating in your brand. What gifts are you giving your customers?

While it may seem trivial to focus on the language, when you drill down it’s not the words we use it’s how we understand the mechanics of it that are misleading and ineffective. Perhaps by changing the language, we will change the deeper meaning.

For more information on the sources quoted, please see here:

*Bill Wasik’s new book “And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture,” a survey of the rise of the “nanostory” in America and its impact on culture, art, politics and, of course, marketing, is out now. Check out these Amazon reviews.

**Henry Jenkins’ white paper “If it Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead”, co-drafted by Henry Jenkins, Xiaochang Li, and Ana Domb Krauskopf with Joshua Green, was developed by the Convergence Culture Consortium on the topic of Spreadable media. Check out the paper available on Henry Jenkin’s blog Confessions of an Aca Fan here.

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What message does fake content reveal to your youth market? http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/03/26/what-message-does-fake-content-reveal-to-your-youth-market/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/2009/03/26/what-message-does-fake-content-reveal-to-your-youth-market/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2009 00:49:15 +0000 Meghan Stuyvenberg http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/meghanstuyvenberg/?p=91 Last week I finished reading the last post of 8-part installment of “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead”, (posted and written by Henry Jenkins, co-founder of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program) discussing the misuse of the term “viral” media. The white paper is a lot to digest, but insightful and I have a background in philosophy so am generally a thinker….should’ve been an analyst. Back to my point, the assertion is to be viral by nature assumes that the consumer is an unwilling host to media distributed by a “producer” (insert marketing rep here). Well when you put it that way…I think it highlights the industry’s reluctance to admit that we (a collective we) have lost power of the message. Let’s face it – we are not clever enough to throw this model of collective culture on its head, so why not continually reinforce terminology that inherently emphasises the producer but does not account for user motivations, so at least we can still sleep at night. NB please excuse if I continue to use the word VIRAL in my marketing efforts….I am not “immune” to this either.

But, the connected generation….they are clever. Not necessarily in a I-got-you sort of way, but in a I-see-through-you sort of way. They aren’t merely hosts to our subliminal messages, they choose to engage and spread the message when they see relevant. Good branded content is as good as good non-branded content. When “fake” content is revealed often the final message is not a positive one, it continues to spread but the message behind it has been distorted. As a brand manager we need to choose carefully what we want our lasting impression to be.

So fast forward — all of this is tossing around in my head when today I got this Mini video from @JamesDuthie. There is a classic line in it, “I get it, we’re in a viral”. I love the openness and transparency of it. YES it’s fake, but who cares?! In fact the fact it is makes it more funny than if it were real. It is soooo 2008 to develop a fake, and while it’s only early 2009 that is how fast we are moving and must adapt. Let’s not forget that from the beginning of internet-time the those who got it could always insert themselves into youth pop-culture by being real. As a general rule I don’t believe in hyping up controversy to sell brands – the phrase “any PR is good PR” is one of the worst things that happened to my industry, oh let’s say ever. As professionals we need to further instill that there is very thin line, if one at all, between brand and corporate reputation.

In summary (love my summaries, don’t I?) – what does this highlight to me? We (again that collective “we”) need to understand more the nature of social media and what makes our messages valuable and “spreadable” not viral, and this means owning up to the power shift the digital media has brought upon us. I thank Gen C for forcing this upon us and brining relationships back to the forefront of our communications mix.

That said, please enjoy the Mini video, courtesy of who other than BMW Mini.

PS love this comment: “It IS REAL !! the cousin of my uncle´s maid said that he heard some guy saying his neighbor´s hot daughter had a boyfriend that used to do this tricks with his car !!!! i swear !”

NB highly recommend the above mentioned paper.

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