Remember those Chose Your Own Adventure books? The ones where at the end of a ‘chapter’ you would have to make a decision as to what happened next. At a pivotal point in the story you would decide whether the character would hike down a dark cave or hide behind a tree. You would then turn to the page for that plot line and the story would continue. You were part of shaping the version of the story that you experienced. Brilliant! What ever happened to those?
I loved them because you felt like you were part of making the story. As a hyper young lad, soon to be a grown ENTP, this suited me just fine. Not that I didn’t like to just sit back and be entertained on occasion; being active in shaping things just feels better to me.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and the premiere of yet another show wherein young hopefuls sing cover songs to be judged by washed up musicians only this time with a new media twist. I’m talking about Rising Star. The show has a companion app that you download and as the show airs live, you use the app to give the current singer a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The singer needs to get a certain percentage of yes votes to advance to the next round. In the interest of research, my daughter and I tuned into the premiere episode with our phones in hand to get our vote on.
ABC knows what they are doing, allowing you to be a part of shaping the story, albeit in a very controlled ecosystem. They know that 86 percent of Gen-Xers and Millenials watch TV while engaging with a second screen, usually a mobile device.
The fear that the Internet has turned us into a less creative consumer zombies is just not holding true. It turns out that we like to share content, create content, tweak content and talk about content too.
A good example of this; The Most Interesting Man In The World. Started as an ad campaign for beer, its now become a meme and a part of the vocabulary of the internet. The story that Dos XX beer has been telling is living on (and changing) in a way that they could never have planned for.
The mantra from marketers in recent years has been; tell story. Its true, if you tell a compelling story you can get action from users. Which brings an important aside in the conversation, audience vs users. Simply telling a story is definitely good enough when you have an audience but we’re finding more and more that a good story, in and of itself, is not enough in the age of users. Users are much more complex and once you understand this new reality, they are much more of an asset to you and your message.
Users jump from platform to platform, channel to channel and device to device. Different users use different spaces for different reasons. Your mom uses Facebook to look at pictures of her grandkids while you may use it to keep up with friends and brag about your life. You may simply see Clash of Clans as a video game where your 10 year old son uses it much like you might use email or sms…to communicate with friends.
So if we combine story telling with the multi-switching realities of new media we come to this idea of Hypertelling. Its a phrase coined by Eric Solomon from Google’s creative department; Zoo. Remember the word ‘hyperlink’? That’s where it comes from. Its story telling in a new reality, so we get hypertelling.
Its the idea that the story you tell needs to be dynamic, not just in the story itself, but the execution of the story across various platforms, channels and substrates. There are multiple ways this plays out and I want to focus in on two of them in the next two posts (I may ad more later) so here’s a summary of these two ideas:
Hypertelling needs to be orchestrated from moment one
You can’t simply do what you normally do in your creative meetings and in you regular executions of your message, you need to consider how to tell the story and engage with users across all channels that you use and that make sense for your brand. Hypertelling fails when you repackage content and try to serve it across different channels.
You can’t control Hypertelling
The Internet never forgets right? We’ve seen McDonalds and other big brands completely blow it on this one when they expected the behavior of an audience and got the behavior of users instead. Hypertelling comes with risk and when done right requires you to venture into some very unknown places with your brand.
This is the early stage of putting words to this idea, that isn’t completely new. A few years ago I was working with the idea; appearance of spontaneity. Grasping the idea of hypertelling, I think, will help you and your team make more sense of the various channels that you’ve probably been treating as either separate silos (like I have) or you’ve just been repackaging the same content across those channels.
What are your thoughts on this idea of hypertelling?
Have you ever screwed up in an ugly and public way? It sucks. If you have any shred of self awareness it eats you alive. You lose sleep…lots of sleep. The anxiety starts to build as it becomes clear that this is not going away until you engage it head on and humble yourself before any and all effected. As soon as you come clean and air it out, even though a list of consequences may await, you feel a tension release and a freedom that is powerful and brings you back to life.
Forgiveness and reconciliation is about as powerful of an interaction as two humans can have on this earth.
I’ve been there plenty of times and I know how these experiences have shaped me. I know I’m in good company when I’m around people who have walked these hallways.
Governments that exist by controlling access to information, as well as the synchronization and coordination of people, are losing in the face of abundant new media and the power it gives individuals.
Venezuela, Ukraine, China, North Korea and the like cannot be a part of the emerging global economy without every worker having at least the connectivity provided by a mobile phone.
This means the people can unite and rise up. It’s exciting because maybe we don’t have to go killing and bombing to overthrow dictators. The people can do it themselves, all they need is the tools.
Drop phones not bombs.