In the age of the internet, everyone has something to say. Everyone has a story.
Not only has the internet and its countless platforms given a voice to anyone willing to speak up, it’s also created new lanes in which brands can reach potential customers. If used correctly, these lanes can bring brands closer to their targeted audience through storytelling and conversations. No longer do brands need a middleman reach their audience. On the flipside, a brand’s audience can now reach them just as easily.
Successful brands have been telling stories far before the advent of the world wide web. Think of Budweiser’s Clydesdale ads. The Budweiser Clydesdales date back to 1933, when August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch presented their father with two six-horse hitches to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. Since then, the Clydesdales have been an integral element in the Budweiser brand and story.
Before digressing into the fabric of the Budweiser brand, let’s circle back to the title of this article, particularly the “Transmedia Marketing” part. Transmedia Marketing is essentially using these various platforms, channels and social networks to convey your brand’s story to its target market while involving them along the way. Think of transmedia marketing as the difference between storytelling and story making. Instead of just telling a story, transmedia marketing brings in users to help create stories of their own.
Circling back to Budweiser and the Clydesdales, their website tells a story about the relationship of these horses and the Budweiser brand. “From their first appearance in 1933 to their enduring presence on the American landscape, the Clydesdales are more than the symbol of Budweiser beer; they are the living embodiment of America’s great industrial spirit.” Using storytelling elements as Budweiser does, allows them to not only bring in a human element behind the red, white and blue cans of beer, it also brings consumers closer to the brand.
Social Currency & Prosumerism
In traditional advertising and marketing, brands position themselves as saviors pushing problem-solving products towards a carefully-curated target audience. Brands that only do this nowadays don’t last. Instead, for brands to be successful today they need to elevate their audience, allowing them to be heroes in the brand’s continuous story.
Social media has broken down barriers between brands and their customers, enabling their audience to join and contribute to a brand’s ever-evolving story. In the case of Budweiser, let’s take a look at Instagram. The hashtag #followthehitch shows user and brand photos from various hitch stops across the US. This lets Budweiser fans to interact and contribute to the brand’s narrative.
If Budweiser were to simply retell the story of the Clydesdales to their customers across many platforms, the message is likely to be lost or misconstrued along the way. Instead, through the use of Instagram and their blog, they’re allowing their audience to be a part of their ongoing message instead of simply listening to it.
This open line of communication between brands is referred to as Prosumerism. There’s been a shift from only being a consumer to becoming a prosumer. Instead of simply pushing the Clydesdale story through various platforms, Budweiser has invited consumers to help craft their story. The #followthehitch photos not only appear on Instagram, but also on the Clydesdale Blog section of the Budweiser site. Brands that open communication channels like this will always stand apart from those brands simply pushing a message or story. You know the old saying, “communication is a two-way street”.
Transmedia & Integrating It With Your Inbound Strategy
If a lot of this feels familiar to you, it’s likely because there are a lot of parallels between inbound and transmedia strategies. Since transmedia encompasses so many facets, we can consider an inbound strategy to fall under the transmedia umbrella.
By implementing social currency, social triggers and prosumerism, you’ll already have members of your audience blogging, sharing or posting flattering content about your brand (or product/service). These stories will draw those searching for help to you, as well as friends of your current customers.
Upon attracting new strangers to your brand, they might convert in some way (subscribe, follow etc) and then share their own stories of how your product or service helped them along the way. This creates a cycle that will snowball your inbound strategy.
As we’ve seen with the Clydesdales, marketing has embraced storytelling from the get-go. However, with the advent and increasing time spent within the digital world, things will continue to evolve and that’s a good thing. Who wants to be interrupted by a 30-second ad anymore? How many people do you know running adblocker? The future for successful brands is finding a gentle way to integrate themselves into content that potential consumers are already searching for. With transmedia marketing, social currency, prosumerism and an ever-developing inbound strategy, you’ll not only stay ahead of the competition, you’ll make friends with your customers by doing so.