Mar 182011
 

There are a handful of artists out there making great progress and learning how to meaningfully connect with their fans, build communities around themselves in new ways –  one of these  news ways is by bringing the fans deeper into the creative process. But there are still many agencies and traditional artists running fly-by-night ‘campaigns’ or superficial ‘create a logo for us / do an ad and win $500’ dis-respectful call-to-actions. Things have changed and the ‘wanna be an extra in our indy film’ does not cut the mustard anymore in a world where the users have already tasted self-publishing – nowadays we are talking about solidifying loyalty by integrating existing fans into the creative process at from the birth of the project through to the final distribution.

This post, which is a follow-on from my Co-Creating Transmedia Communities post in Sept,  looks at the levels (specifically six kinds) of crowd sourcing engagement and takes it one step beyond.

THE NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTIST AND ‘CREATIVE’ FAN

We all have our favourite artists – musicians, directors, sculptures, painters, TV personalities and we all have varying degrees of relationships with them. There is a big difference from appreciation at one end to super (obsessed?) fan at the other. But with the new breed of wonderful, stable online collaboration content networks available, the super fan can now become meaningful collaborator. The nature of ‘fanatic’ has evolved:

  1. DISTANT – Worship from afar and happy to just enjoy pushed, finished, packaged content
  2. COLLECTOR – Collects extra insight content from and about the artists
  3. PHYSICAL – Regularly goes to experiential events and concerts and may possibly have low level interaction with the artists
  4. ACKNOWLEDGED – The artist nurtures the fans into a community, a tribe that builds its own identity. They may change their personal look and brand themselves as being part of the artist’s ‘tribe’
  5. CONVERSATIONAL – A dialogue, direct and often in real time between artist and super fans
  6. CREATIONIST – The artist and tribe make ‘stuff’ together

It is of course the last three of the new types of relationships above that have come to the fore in recent years.

COLLABORATIVE ENCOUNTERS OF SIX DIFFERENT KINDS

Bondi Sculpture by the Sea 2010 162

As I was formulating the previous 6 levels (yes I like doing levels!) I suddenly thought of one of my favourite films, from my youth. I have always been fascinated by Speilberg’s Close Encounters…and particularly the meaning behind the ‘Third Kind’. As we know it is actually a reference to J. Allen Hynek‘s 1972 scale of interaction with extra-terrestrial life forces. (There are actually seven levels listed on Wikipedia but the sixth one is redundant being a duplicate of number 2)…

  1. A sighting of an extraterrestrial craft
  2. Physical evidence of the extraterrestrial
  3. Seeing live extraterrestrial beings
  4. A human is ‘taken-in’ or acknowledged by the extraterrestrials
  5. On-going, real time, communication between extraterrestrial and humans
  6. Procreation between extraterrestrial and human

So as you do, I decided to merge 2) the escalation of our extraterrestrials with 1) the evolution of the fan and I came up with, drum roll – Gary’s Online Crowd Sourcing Levels of Six Kinds: (lets assume a level 0 which is basically passive consumption of everything that follows)

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Feb 182011
 

Have about 22 draft posts sitting in my WordPress Post box, so a bit of catch-up in next week or two to clear some out!

Outside of the talk of what ‘transmedia’ actually is, the next key topic of controversy is how can you make money from it vs spending marketing money ‘on it’ to promote a traditional product/project. The Holy Grail at the moment is can we make the ‘multi platform, transmedia form’ an entertainment or service necessity – something worth users putting hands in pockets for (or clicking that PayPal button) and something worth spending the time and effort immersing yourself in – when there are so many other ‘linear’ fragments to graze on? This post therefore looks briefly at a core aspect of transmedia or experience design that is oft left out of the equation, the user need and how we can map out and create transmedia to meet those needs. Simple concept time.

Alongside traditional needs analysis and user centric design I have been writing & teaching recently about matching any creative project to a user or audience base – going beyond crude demographics or even psychographics and thinking about raw, primal need. I often start by saying

Before we can make any creation or experience ‘overwhelmingly’ engaging for someone else we have to be able to identify & define a broad range of needs that encompasses the physical through to social then to self-empowerment? Ask yourself…

  • Does your work go beyond short term titillation (think 30 second ad spots, short films, virals or stunt marketing campaigns in shopping malls) and encourage repeat visits over many months?
  • Does it contain intimate, social and group building elements?
  • Is it a trusted, familiar environment to use and take part in?
  • Does it actually work, not fall over, most of the time?
  • Does it encourage user creativity, stimulate user ethics or open their minds to other worlds
  • Will they be rewarded through the respect of others?

While I was constructing these points many moons ago it dawned on me I the similarities with the five levels in Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs which as you know was a paper from 1943 and book in 1954 looking at how we are motivated and what basic needs have to be fulfilled ‘before’ we can attain higher levels of engagement with ourselves and others. His work has already been used in marketing areas such as Transpersonal Business (a new area using psychology to develop an understanding of consumer behaviour) and mapped to other emerging areas such as Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim in her 2000 book Community Building on the Web (hat tip Laurel Papworth 2008) or more dry areas such as ‘the internet hierarchy of needs‘. But here I am more interested in how Transmedia Story or Service creation has strong parallels in Maslow’s simple five level diagram, from a ground up user centric, development approach.

The Transmedia Heirarcy of Needs

So designing any transmedia service from a user centric design perspective, the idea in the above draft ‘pyramid’ diagram would be to start at level 1 ‘Physiological’ as a foundation and gradually build and evolve the social, play, story and design/functionality elements – taking into account the next four levels. It implies simply that first you need to have at your disposal a good variety of technically sound platforms with an appropriate mix of reliable media before you build the more sophisticated levels. How many services start at level 3? They go straight for the Facebook and Twitter network storytelling without solid user hub sites, or technically strong subscriber management or well thought out game or story. How many projects start at the top level? Linear and mostly one way broadcast forms, strong on story & morality but without any of the below social, multi faceted and play levels that draw users into long term, personal engagement? Here is the text version for the ‘copy, paste’rs’ amoungst us 🙂 Please note this is a first draft and will probably be embellished!

  • Level 1 Physiological – technically sound, expected mix of media, reliability, available, multi platform variety, solid production
  • Level 2 Safety – quality of service, trustworthiness of providers, privacy of gameplay, service permanence, level game playing field, shared rules and values
  • Level 3 Love/Belonging – include friends and family, network elements, discover new friends, share experiences
  • Level 4 Esteem – able to excel & be seen to excel, system recognises contribution and/or abilities, take part in team play, appear on leader boards & be peer reviewed
  • Level 5 Self-Actualization – able to add personal original content, the story surprises, challenges morals & enables problem solving, become self empowered, understand the world better

I have covered the concepts of each of those levels on many previous posts (eg: Producing Transmedia Stories and 1999 presentations such as Cross Media Design) and sure the mapping concepts here are not rocket science or particularly jaw dropping, but if you buy into Maslow’s Hierarchy and particularly the ‘level’ and evolution aspects, you really need to consider how those layered needs map across to your field whatever that may be? Transmedia, communities, education, marketing, public services, politics, social media and on.

UPDATE 1
I like this simple social media mapping from Erica Glasier too, which actually highlights specific services for each level 🙂

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, & the Social Media that Fulfill 'Em

Aug 262010
 

“We live in extraordinary times and the last five years particularly, a renaissance of storytelling. We are, as we were pre-printing press days when we equally shared, enhanced and distributed the fragments of our engaging stories. Today’s technology has delivered a new spirit of connectivity, a democratisation of story given back to the ‘many’. Storytelling not at walking speed but the speed of light. You equipped to deal with this?”

OK enough opening fluff and straight to the point. I was having a chat yesterday with a colleague at Screen Australia trying to answer a simple question. Cue music…

If you have a story project, that’s a little bit ‘strange’, who ya gonna call?

Magic Point Maroubra LX3 dBW 26

Not Fearing to Tread - Photo cc GHayes

(Strange = new format, transmedia, innovative, social, game-like, fragmented.) If you have a film and TV project and you need assistance to develop the script, help with the production, work through the characterisations, get advice on Red or 3D etc: there are a zillion consultants, vocational educational courses and many willing wannabe advisors to draw on. Film, Radio & TV particularly have 100+ years of maturity so it is also pretty easy to incrementally innovate, floating in watertight boats on tried and tested waters. Sadly the options for story rich projects that fall outside the straight and narrow linear path, have a more difficult time.

To be professionally guided or get the skills to create new storytelling formats you can

  1. Get in touch with professional agencies already doing this stuff. But they are often rather busy making ends meet and engrossed in ‘transmedia’ marketing big budget or existing story brands to really give you the time and advice you need.
  2. Find a traditional academic ‘digital story – type’ course (marketed as a world first) in your local area. Spend 6 months or longer working with ‘we need to do this stuff’ academics and theorists or at best, passionate aggregators of the best ‘new story’ project trailers masquerading as educational case studies. Also these course tend to be trials and under resourced – erm not the views of me with lecturer hat on, local employers 😉
  3. Find a local specialist individual who ‘seems’ to know about this new space – very few good experienced, passionate folk about and also a bit hit and miss.
  4. Seek out a handful of seminars, short workshops or networking events around the world. There are actually very few and they are often of the evangelising vs really getting down to nitty gritty ‘storytelling’ processes.

So here we are, a great dawning of transmedia storytelling, innovative new services and products yet still no true, deep development initiatives? Academia and industry either too money-busy, unable to take risk or focused on the past to really fill in this void?

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Nov 122009
 

Will the integration of Social Media into TV give the tottering Broadcast giant a well needed injection in the arm, or is it another doomed hybrid?

sky_social_xbox

Sky Social TV on XBox Platform

This pretty detailed post below looks at twenty or so of the best offerings that glue TV and Social Media together – whether its live chat on the TV screen or playing a game on your laptop/mobile/games console in sync with the TV show here are most of the already existing services in this space. We have seen two key audience behaviours happen in the past 3-4 years that change the status quo – TV on one screen, social media on the other.

UPDATE: The Guardian UK did an follow-up interview with me in reference  to this post. The article by Mercedes Bunz is called The X Factor marks the start of TV becoming social – “Emerging media producer Gary Hayes discusses the Twitter buzz around shows such as The X Factor and its implications for TV’s future”

Firstly the increased use of social media real time, communication tools (such as Twitter, SMS and Skype IM etc) means there is now a growing roar off in the distance. The viewer back channel, real time social chatter, “did you just see that”, “I don’t agree with what he just said” and most worrying for broadcasters “I’m not going to watch this again. Agree?”.

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