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Network Effects Video Documentary – Transmedia Storytelling

Over the past year we’ve been (quietly) working on a video documentary that has nothing to do with Cisco products, solutions, launches or events. Our goal was to use storytelling and video imagery to showcase the amazing impact that the telecom network is having on the socio-economic status of communities around the world. Through the work of local service providers, community leaders, and dedicated volunteers the changes are phenomenal to witness.

We enlisted the help of Dr. Steven Shepard of USC’s Institute for Communications Technology Management program to narrate the videos. Dr. Shepard shared some wisdom from his 25 years of experience as  a veteran of the telecommunications industry, networking and education. He traveled with us and interviewed telecom executives from various businesses, as well as many interesting characters he happened upon during the journey. Six videos were created for the series.

  1. Network Effect
  2. Pioneers of the Network
  3. A Network Built for Mom
  4. Reaching the Unreachable
  5. Phone Company In a Box
  6. Looking Forward

We invite you to watch this documentary during its television broadcast debut exclusively on ShortsTV.  (This channel is currently only available to subscribers of AT&T U-verse and DirectTV.) Once the promotion is completed (at the end of July), the documentary will be available on YouTube. As a sneak peak, here is one of the episodes.

A Catalyst for Social Change

The stories told are great examples of an aspect of social media that is often missing – social impact, changing lives, empowering people to be their best. These stories go beyond individual products, or solutions but dive into the power of being connected. A stone mason whose neighbors skip meals one day a week to pay for a satellite dish to promote his business. Delivering reading lessons via SMS to teach young women to read thereby enabling them to get better jobs. Thousands of micro-businesses increased sales over 30 percent while reducing costs because of access to telephony services housed in shipping containers. Hearing the impact and creativeness of those who use the telecom network is what drove our mission.

As these videos evolved we used our Connected Life Exchange (CLE) blog to promote the series.  We started CLE  for the purpose of experimenting with the then new transmedia multi-platform storytelling approach to communication. In March, CLE was selected as the runner-up finalist for Best Corporate Blog by B2B magazine.

Clearly this type of multimedia storytelling, editorial essays, and the ability to make human connections, without a self-promotional agenda, is the best example of authentic social marketing in action.  BtoB Magazine remarked:

“The whole package is refreshingly non-promotional and often fascinating. Cisco continues to innovate in the suddenly red-hot field of content marketing with an approach to thought leadership that emphasizes actual thinking”

What examples of inspirational story telling have you seen? Do you think a more subtle approach is better at reaching your target audience? When is it best used, and why?

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Digital Engagement Through Transmedia Storytelling

January 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm PST

I have been hearing folks talk about transmedia storytelling for several years now but haven’t spent time on this blog discussing this concept. Seems high time I did so and figured I should start off by attempting to define what it actually means. According to Wikipedia transmedia storytelling, also known as multi-platform storytelling, cross-platform storytelling, or transmedia narrative, is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. Henry Jenkins officially defined transmedia in 2006 in his book “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide,” as a story that “unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each new text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole.” So given this transmedia storytelling is just the tip of the transmedia iceberg with transmedia branding/activism/performance/etc. waiting in the wings so to speak :)

Diving into the purpose of transmedia storytelling, the common definition is that it is meant to extend the brand reach of the product by using multiple stories that are set in a single universe but told across a variety of outlets. These overlapping publishing points complement each other to form an overarching narrative. So transmedia storytelling isn’t just re-publishing the story in multiple platforms it is about using a medium to augment the base storyline for example–comics might provide back-story, games might allow you to explore the world in the story, social media might enable curated commentary on the story developing into a story line in and of itself and the television/web series offers unfolding episodes. Keep in mind that if your story doesn’t resonate with your audience transmedia approaches won’t fix that. That’s right, as always, content is king and transmedia is a great option for extending powerful content to a variety of platforms/formats. So how are digital technologies empowering transmedia? According to Tribeca Film:

Transmedia is the new space where visual storytelling exists because:

1. Every screen we can imagine (TV, smart phone, tablet, laptop and yes, the lowly desktop computer) is reached by Internet video, audio, text and images.

2. Every connected consumer can reach back — through each screen.

In the below video iPad storyteller Joe Sabia demonstrates how new technology has been instrumental in enabling people to tell stories, from pop-up books and to his own onstage iPad storytelling techniques. Read More »

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