Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Star Wars: The Transmedia That Will Never Die

I'm obsessed. There, I said it.

I, like a billions of others who reside on Planet Earth, am completely and manically addicted to anything Star Wars.

Forget the movies. Of course, we love them, too. But it's the swag, the memes, the computer themes, the game apps, the plush toys, hell, even chocolate.

We love Star Wars as much today as we did the first time we laid eyes on IV -- A New Hope (1977).

There is even a Star Wars: Obsession comic book series, as you can see here on Wookieepedia.

When all of us lost our minds for the anticipated Disney release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Business Insider dissected this thing where the entire world can stop on a dime to laugh at a Stormtrooper meme. Writer Drake Baer (now isn't that a great name for a future character?) concludes in his article that since 1977, generations of people have this shared experience that bonds them together as a community.

Damon Linker from The Week posts a bit more of a cynical view. That said, the key takeaway from his piece is that regardless of what is going on in the world, sometimes we all just need an escape and Star Wars is an easy distraction.

Yea, there are some people who haven't seen Star Wars. I haven't been to the Grand Canyon either, but I still don't discount its glory. Anyone who dares to try and squash our passionate enthusiasm for all things George Lucas should try and read our thoughts as we fantasize sending them the imaginary Darth Vader choke hold against their neck.

The sheer numbers of parodies, fan films, merchandising, the fact that scientists are even naming organisms after Star Wars characters -- all of this means that decades from now, the transmedia for these films will only grow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Asia Slated to Become a Transmedia Hub

Our Chinese counterparts estimate that 70% of new TV and film productions are coming from properties developed first in online literature or printed books.

Asia to be a major player in transmedia content | Digital News Asia

Zhang Yimou’s blockbuster movie The Great Wall starring Hollywood A-listers Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe may be just the injection China needed to bridge the creative hemisphere and bring two worlds together. If the epic trailer is any indication, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ricky Gervais' Character David Brent Is Transmedia In Action

It all started back at The Office. David Brent was always that character who is accidentally offensive, even though he's trying so hard to be politically correct.

Brent is no longer the manager, but now a sales representative who has cashed in all of his life savings to finally live his dream of becoming a rock star.

David Brent not only stars in a new movie that documents this journey, but he also has created a music album and a songbook. In essence, he has become a transmedia project.

Of course, the character is the brainchild of the comedic genius Ricky Gervais. He is touring the talk show circuit to promote these projects on behalf of David Brent. There has been other swag to complement this venture, such as branded guitar picks, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and staplers. All we need now are McFarlane figures and bobbleheads.

This is one cool example of transmedia in action.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Education Fails When It Comes To Digital Media Training

Some universities are beginning to introduce digital media courses to their curricula, but for the most part, there is a huge knowledge gap. Most students graduate without knowing how to use a webcam to create a YouTube video or how to use social managing platforms, such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

I'm beginning to see a few call out the establishment for their lack of attention, or caring, about this education hole. But until the corporate world sees this as a crisis, private trainers will have to find a way to keep filling the training gap.

Digital media can be learned and taught, but neither are necessarily done well. See most advertising agencies that use social media as a one size fits all, or who think spamming direct messages in Facebook and LinkedIn are going to get you more "likes" or conference signups.

In fact, getting more "likes" is the problem right there. That is NOT what digital media is about. They are really networking platforms, where real live people are members.

Every platform has its own unique audience, which means it needs it's own unique editorial plan in order to maximize its effectiveness. The only way to learn this is to actually use it. No degree will teach you this, unless the actual teachers are using the platforms effectively. It's easy to vet them, too. If their engagement is good, you will be able to see it in their numerous posts and engaged followers. If they have just a name and one post, they are not the people to teach or tell others how to use it.

Where the education deficit is most noticeable is when you talk to students fresh out of Communications, Marketing, or Journalism studies. When those of us who are immersed in this technology look at these graduates as potential candidates, the chasm is so wide, and if there is no will to learn, then there is no way we can hire them. They may get hired by the corporations who don't know any better. HR departments might think that the degree makes a person worthy and knowledgeable over their experience and ability to actually make effective use of each platform. Then later they fire that hire and either give up on digital media "because it doesn't work" or they keep hiring the same type of recruits, thinking that sooner or later, the right one will show up.

It's the equivalent of a marketing hamster wheel. Companies just go around and around, as do the candidates, until they learn otherwise, if they ever do.

Other sources:

Washington Post on the digital divide in education

MeriTalk on K-12 Education Challenges

Saratogian News: A new digital divide

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Transmedia journalism: content when, where, and how you want it

In my Canadian city, there are still daily newspapers trying to sell subscriptions door to door and in supermarkets. It's a brave thing to do in a world that grows more digital by the day. That said, pulp and paper mills will continue to operate because there will always be people who enjoy picking up a printed magazine, book, comic, and yes, even a newspaper. 

The one thing newspapers can (or should) offer, is varying viewpoints and investigative reporting. Regardless of how it is delivered, we still need that source

But when it comes to media, one size doesn't fit all; and all people don't gravitate to just one form of delivery. What we do demand is here and now. We have become used to getting "breaking news" at ever second of the day.

Transmedia "allows us to unfold a story across multiple media formats." It also gives news reporters the opportunity to tell part of the story now and then fill in more details as they learn more of the facts. Journalists are actually pretty good at it. They just don't necessarily equate it with the name transmedia. They have become astute at telling a story that stands alone on each platform, which also collectively paints a broader picture. They are also able to pull in their audience for engaging their content, and in many cases, help them expand the story even further.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Transmedia Health Intervention

It's been my experience living in Canada, that the health industry still has an old school mentality about communications. Doctors don't email. They won't even give you results of tests over the phone. They still fax or call prescription emergency refills to the pharmacy. Otherwise, you make an appointment, pick up a physical prescription (and hope the waiting room isn't full so it doesn't cost you over an hour), then take the piece of paper to the pharmacy and wait for it to be filled. It may vary doctor to doctor, but this is my Alberta, Canada doctor experience from living in two major cities and with several different physicians.

When I was in Arizona and sought to get a prescription I didn't have time to get in Canada, I was beside myself with glee when the 60+-year-old doctor had emailed the prescription to the pharmacy before I even walked out the door. Doctors with email? Who knew? By the time I walked into the pharmacy, it had already been filled. Bam! Now that's service!

This week, I came across two stories where digital communications can be used as an effective tool for patients. Ya think?

The first one talks about using an app to help patients with low or no literacy skills. Illiteracy is a problem. Imagine if you can't read and won't be able to know what the critical labeling says on your prescription? It's not something an adult likes to admit, so more than likely, when they speak with their doctor or pharmacist, they wing it when he or she points out to the label as to how much and the precautions.

Biology professor John Pollock and his team of Pittsburgh (yes, that is Pennsylvania, America, not Canada) has been on a mission since 2001 to increase the health literacy of patients. He's working on "Bibliotech" e-books to engage children to learn more about science and health.

The other story is about using transmedia storytelling to teach teenagers about sexual health. "East Los High" is a portal for information about health and social services. Oh yea, that one is in the U.S., too.

Getting back to Canada, even MacLean's magazine called out doctors for being digitally absent.

There is so much opportunity left on the floor by the healthcare industry. Doctors may chastise us for checking out WebMD for common symptoms and what they mean, but in today's digital world, do they leave us any choice?

Here is a telling interview with a doctor who sheds light on why so many doctors are still operating in the Dark Ages.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Open-Source Technology versus Private Servers

There are two ways of conducting Internet business: with open-source technology or with the use of private servers.

The protectionists and security-conscious may believe that private servers are the only way to go, but not always. No doubt, there are pros and cons to each. If money is no object and you think you can keep up with the need for continuous upgrades, then maybe a private server is right for your project or business. There are indeed some secure features that make it somewhat fail-safe. But let's face it. Nothing is a sure thing in the digital age. A black hacker's determination and kick-ass computing skills will always run circles over yours.

Open-source technology gives you the world at your fingertips. You have an instant network of resources to collaborate and partner with, and the cost is minimal for unlimited storage. That said, the biggest risk is choosing the wrong network, which could go out of business at any given moment and all your stored information can be lost.

Here is a breakdown of what each computing method brings to the table:

Private Servers
  • It's expensive to set up.
  • It must be maintained and upgraded.
  • If the network goes down (for example Go Daddy), then all of your customers and employees will be frustrated and turned off if you don't have an on-call tech to fix the problem as soon as possible. It can turn into a terrible public relations moment. (See Canadian government payroll system and Obamacare launch.)
  • The system can become obsolete very quickly. (Technology based on specific operating systems, such as Windows Vista)
  • The door is locked and thus gives you a limited view of the world. (You live in your own technological bubble.)
  • You are isolated from other technological advances and the global community.
  • There are administration hoops that make the user/friendliness of the system in question.
Open-Source Technology
  • You are using other people's money by tapping into their system.
  • Upgrades are included, and usually often.
  • The opportunities are endless because you have unlimited and unfettered access to the global community, which means you can just as easily do business with someone in Kazakhstan as you can with someone down the street.
  • Everything is within your personal control. Once you learn a platform and how to access it, there are no administration hoops to jump through. You control what you do, say, see, and hear.
  • You have endless storage for everything that is digital for free or a nominal fee, once you fill a certain space requirement.
  • There is a bevy of technicians and security staff on hand 24/7 so if something does happen, your technology is only down for a small window of time.
  • Security is continually updated and enhanced to stay ahead of the hackers.
Yes, the above is a simplified look at the difference between the two, but perhaps it's too simplified? This following video is a great simplified look at how cloud systems work and the difference between private, public, and hybrid.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Is Your Website User Unfriendly?

I have come to the conclusion that I hate website links to slideshows. As soon as I open one, I immediately click out. I just don't have that much time on my hands. (This is not to be confused with SlideShare, which does not have this issue.)

There isn't a website out there with this setup that doesn't hijack my device for 15 to 20 seconds PER slide. That's because each page has to keep loading up it's video and Flash advertisements before you can actually see the picture. Some sites are worse than others, but all sites are bad. The sites that allow you to see the list in a continuous feed are a blessing. They are the ones I mentally bookmark.

Lately, or maybe it's just mobile unfriendliness, but I don't think so, a lot of sites that have "spiffed" up their platforms have made the user experience worse.

Let's take Hootsuite for an example. Loading it now looks like this:

While it is still faster than those slideshow sites, it's buggy, and half the features don't work as well as they used to -- like the ability to like or retweet a tweet. Because I haven't decided on a management platform yet, I still schedule tweets in Hootsuite, but go directly to Twitter to personally manage, even if it means logging in and out of several accounts. There was a time when the Hootsuite platform was a better user experience than Twitter.

Next is Google+. It also included a similar "feel" as the Hootsuite platform, where it is buggy and seems like it was build in Flash. At least there, you can revert back to the original experience. They don't force you to use it. 

So when you plan to update or create a website, users don't give a rat's behind about the Flashy look as much as the experience of using it. If it spools and your popup video ads have to load before one can look at the page, it sucks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Digital Literacy and Transmedia

If you Google "digital literacy," you'll see there is a broad perspective as to what it all entails. It's everything from learning to turn on the computer, search the web, create a spreadsheet (really?), learn about operating systems and software, to using social media.

Digital literacy, however, must begin with the basics. This is a tower, monitor, mouse, laptop...this is how you set it up and turn it on for the first time. This is how you access your files ... and of course, all these steps are different on every operating system, and on different computing devices.

Our transmedia marketing strategies are only as good as our audience's digital literacy.

Most marketing plans are geared towards those who already know the drill. The audience ranges from comfortable to expert. Meanwhile, there is a novice demographic that may be interested, but their lack of understanding computers and digital media keeps them off your grid. Find a way to reach them, too, without alienating the core.

If we stop and think about how our message can be understood and received by the digitally-challenged, we can rewrite the words so they can be understood by all. That's when everybody wins.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

No Picture, No Profile. Why Are You Here?

Yea, you've probably heard me talk about this before. I make no apologies for it. 

Sadly, every day my eyes are assaulted by people's profiles. These aren't just Facebook or Twitter profiles, which may be (biting my tongue) a forgivable offense. Nope. I'm talking about BUSINESS communities, where the purpose of being there is to a) look for business or b) showcase your business. 

In both a and b scenarios, when you have a name, a picture like the one above, and nothing that tells the viewer what the hell you do or are there for, well, you look like a troll. It's why your follower count still sits at 17. Okay, that's better than three, but still.

I am probably not alone in this, but when I get a connection request and this is the photo I see, or a dog, or a flower, or any kind of stock photography image, I'm not surprised when I look at the profile and it might say, "independent businessman" or something as equally obscure, with no history. I'm going to deny the request to connect. 

If I know the person, I may revisit it several days later and still struggle to decide if I want to connect. Why? There is no value in my feed if the person isn't interested in providing any. It's like trying to drum up a conversation with someone who invited you for coffee and all they do is grunt and shrug. 

Don't make it so hard for people to talk to you.

This post idea wouldn't leave me alone after sifting through LinkedIn today and checking out the suggested connections. My goodness, if this is a business site, why do you have a picture of yourself drinking wine in the backyard if you're not a wine store owner? If there is more than one person in the photo, which one is you? You couldn't take a quick selfie with your smartphone or computer webcam? Don't post pictures of you sitting in the park with your kids, either, unless you're looking for a babysitter. While there may very well be babysitters on LinkedIn, you're not going to catch many corporate executives with that picture.

There is a whole host of reasons why social media doesn't work for people. The first thing you can fix is your profile picture, and make sure it echoes who you are, and/or the business you are in. But most importantly, make sure it is of you. Go ahead and use the background cover photo for the other stuff. The profile picture is the first decider on whether or not someone wants to trust you in their feeds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tragically Hip At the Hundredth Meridian

The Tragically Hip concert broadcast live on CBC

There were over 11 million Canadians gathered around a boxed campfire on a Saturday night, otherwise known as a live television broadcast. While it was during an Olympic Games, it wasn't for hockey, which would be the only time an entire country might shut down all of its activity for a single event. No. This time, it was a concert. People were tweeting, posting on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and pretty much every platform they could to connect, share, and witness this historic moment in history.

August 20, 2016 was a big day in Canada. It was the final farewell of The Tragically Hip, aka Canada's band. It's lead singer Gordon Downie was diagnosed with terminal cancer and rather than lay low and convalesce, he and the band embarked on a final 15-concert tour that culminated in Kingston, Ontario. Why Kingston? That was the birthplace of the band.

So Canadians gathered together in body, mind, and spirit to view the band's final concert, which was broadcast commercial-free on CBC. Even Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Kingston to watch it live.

It may not have been as big a deal in other countries, as The Hip sang lyrics about Canada and Canadian culture. With all the buzz they saw in their social feeds from their Canuck friends, maybe the band will finally see some hits in far away lands.

It was fitting that well-known hockey anchor Ron McLean, surrounded by Canadian athletes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil opened and introduced the live stream broadcast. The Hip did not disappoint. There were even three encores. Gord Downie had one moment in the concert where he broke down. It might have been initially overlooked as part of the live performance, but then when it continued, you could see the pain in his facial expressions, and tears in his eyes, as this was the final performance he would ever do. The fans cried, too.

It is doubtful we will ever see another moment like this one. There isn't another Canadian band in past and future sight that would have the impact that The Tragically Hip has. The band IS Canada. It defines the people, tells their stories, and makes no apologies for being all-out Canadian.

In most events, be it sports, a television series, election, or speech -- Twitter will trend, people will tweet, take screenshots for Instagram and Facebook, and carry on conversations with people they don't know and others within their own networks. It's like a gathering around a campfire. Only the logs on this puppy made those flames roar awfully high.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The World Is Inside Your Computer

Ninety-two is a pretty big number. That is the percentage of consumers who trust peer recommendations over advertising. Because we are all interconnected worldwide by our computing devices, someone in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina can network with someone just as easily in Hammerfest, Norway as they can in their own backyard.

I have four projects underway that hone this point. One is in the same Canadian province, who I first met through a local network group. Two is in Arizona with someone I met through a close friend I've known for years. Three is in New York, who I met through a social network. Four is in Sweden, who I met through a social webhosting site. Then there is my webcasting partner, who I met on a webhosting site through another person I met in LinkedIn.

Every day, my net(work) is cast wider. These are not just passive followers. When I follow someone, it is because they bring value to my feeds. If I didn't already know them, they provide me with education, laughs, inspiration, and friendship.

Networking online isn't just using the Net to connect your name to their profile. The "working" part has to be engaged in order to make those connections meaningful.

My nearly 4,000 Twitter followers in @bookpublish101
Even as time constrains your ability to manage your posts, take your top two or three networks, the ones you see the most interactions from, and pick two to three random people a day to a) respond to something they posted that caught your attention b) tell them something to make their day and/or c) share one of their posts with your followers. It will take you five minutes. If you do that consistently each day, you become a good digital citizen and people will start paying attention to you. In addition to that, make sure you post interesting, entertaining, and inspiring stuff, too.

The number one thing you need to consider is a universal truth: everyone wants to feel like they matter. That's it. If you can make someone feel respected and seen in one moment, that will go around the globe in less time than a paid advertising campaign and with better results. But this isn't about ROI or any of that market speaking buzzword bullshit. It's about people. It's about real connections. Even if you've never met any of them in real life or face-to-face in a webcam, you can still make an impact globally, just by being kind, being respectful, being thoughtful, and being there. Mean what you say. Don't just say it for the sake of making clickbait.

Don't just post and run. Stay and play.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Crowdsourcing Talent

He’s come a long way since the 3rd Rock From the Sun. You might notice he is everywhere: in every movie, TV appearances, the Internet. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the “it” man of the hour.
Gordon-Levitt came into my radar, no, not just because he’s Robin (see The Dark Knight Rises) but because of a Wrap post that reminded us he once had a lull in his career. Yea, I didn’t believe it at first, either. Especially when there is a dedicated fan page calling him the coolest actor of 2014.
When you read the Wrap article, it shows what he did to get out of his funk. There is a good lesson in this man’s career for all of us.
We don’t have to be an A-list actor or Internet star to do some of the things he’s done. All of the tools and creativity are at our own fingertips. Just click on a new link and put in the right search tools and — whola! Your future is now.
Pay close attention to Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord. It is a crowd-sourced production company he founded. Think of it as a free business plan to marketing and engagement and you don’t need a big budget, or any budget, to initiate it. He has produced an Internet TV show that utilizes on-stage material, pulls the audience into the production, culls his following for content creation, and every element distributes the end result at the same time it is live. That is interaction at its best. The Huffington Post calls it The Art of Collaboration.
It's genius. Get the audience invested in your project by pulling them in as storytellers. And yes, they do get paid.
You have to admit, that’s as cool as Batman.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Digital Footprint Is Your Connection to the World, and to Life

Google is not always your friend, but digital and social networks are. Why? You can't control what gets said about you on your Google search but you can control what shows up on your Facebook.

Smart Insights published global social media statistics for January 2016. I urge you to click the link to see the whole comprehensive report.

There are 3.419 billion global Internet users, to which 2.307 billion are active in social media. There are 3.790 billion unique mobile users, and 1.968 billion of them are active in social media.

Facebook has the highest penetration of users between ages 18 to 34, then Snapchat and Instagram.

The most popular networks are in this order:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr

Social media isn't just a fad. It isn't just a personal thing. It is your connection to the world. How you use it will determine your experience.

If you shut everyone out except the people who are in your immediate circle, you miss out on personal growth and connections that could make the world a great big beautiful place.

If you use it to exclusively flog your wares, send a bunch of group direct messages, spam your friends with direct messages to "like" your page, you'll lose connections in a hurry and the ones you keep will just put you on mute.

If you keep an open mind and connect with people you don't know, even if you don't have any mutual connections, you never know what will happen. Of course, you can vet those requests by looking at the profile to see if there is any information that might flag them as a fake account. But connecting with people outside of your sphere can bring you many wonderful treasures: friendship, great and inspiring images, educational and informative posts, business leads, and close friendships that can even move offline.

I vet people by not only if they're a suspected fake profile (usually the army photo is a dead giveaway), but also by what they post on their timeline. If they post continual negative and racist/bigoted links, I will pass on connecting. It is my profile, my platform, and I get to control what I see in the feed. I've done a pretty good job. I don't get a lot of trash or people I have to unfriend.

Social media provides a true digital footprint because you control the outcome of your profile page. Your social pages determine the public's first impression of who you are as an individual. It determines if you are approachable. Will people regret trying to reach out to you? Or will you welcome their social sphere and allow others to champion you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Millennial Market Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Millennials are not who you think they are. They are individuals. They are a collective group within a group. They are real people.

The one thing you need to know about this demographic is that they will not fit inside the box you have made for them. And guess what? This is now the largest generation, surpassing the baby boomers in numbers just this year.

The term millennial represents people who are aged between 16 and 36. That right there tells you that what a 16 year old likes is not going to be the same as a 36 year old. You're going to need a bigger transmedia marketing boat. You're also going to need to be in different platforms to reach each end of the millennial scale.

Especially for those who were born after the baby boomer generation, how you reach people will determine the success of your marketing campaign. You'll find a ton of statistics, like this Goldman Sachs infographic, that fall within the Bell Curve, which groups all millennials into an average age.

There are some things that cross the age groups for likes, passions, and must-haves. Take Marvel movies, for one, Pok√©mon Go for two. Music tastes might even be similar across the board, but not always. 

Platforms may differ. While we know that 78 percent of U.S. social media users are on Facebook (Statista), you can bet that Tumblr and Snapchat might be more popular for some, and by the time this post gets published, the younger ones will have found another app that none of the adults have yet tried to make their own.

When it comes to traditional media and where people get their news, the millennials cannot be fit into a Bell Curve. This is where you will have at least two different camps. The cord cutters -- the ones who never look at a television, get their news in their phone, and their shows on streaming platforms; and the ones who still watch shows on TV and get their news in their phone and in other sources (but may or may not be watching network news).

To reach millennials (and other demographics) your marketing plan could use a couple of must-haves in order to increase its likelihood for success: turn them into disciples and get them excited about sharing your content; make it easy to share, connect, and do what you want them to do; be genuine because their bullshit detectors are way better than yours; let them have a say in the direction you want to take; and for goodness sakes, be mobile-friendly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Video Platforms, the Essential Storytelling Tool, Are Ever Evolving

Spreecast sent a notice to all of its users that it is closing its doors this month of July, and Blab's most avid users are leaving the platform. These are two interactive live-stream video platforms set up for talk TV. Both similar in that you could have four people on the broadcast in one screen. Both shareable through Facebook and Twitter before, during, and after from inside a broadcast. Both great at building interactive communities, where users meet up on other platforms to engage.

The fate of these and other platforms that have gone before them represent the one true thing about the Internet: everything is evolving and few things are a sure thing.

That said, the video platform is an essential storytelling tool and a must-have for the transmedia toolbox. A webcam is all that is required, whether it is an external or from a laptop, desktop, or mobile device. Point and shoot or get a bit more productive with annotations and creative editing. Make movie and book trailers, let your characters take the audience deep inside the story, interview people who work behind the scenes. Video is where it is at. People tend to be more inclined to consume a video over sifting through a website or reading a blog. No matter what your project or business is, chances are you can use video to your advantage.

The big enchilada and the queen of all queens is YouTube. While it is indelibly linked to Google Hangouts and Google+, there have been many changes that I'm still trying to figure out, but setting up a YouTube Live Stream event cuts out the middleman Google Hangouts on Air, even though they still connect with each other.

The best way to figure out a platform is to just do it. Play around with it and worst-case scenario you can always delete the video if you hate it that much.

Besides YouTube, there are several other platforms for video that can be used in lieu of, in conjunction, or mirrored.

No matter what platform you decide to try, download the MP4 of your content so you have a backup of it, just in case. I have downloaded some Periscope, Facebook Live, and Blab videos and posted them to YouTube. Personally, I now choose only to use video platforms that allow me to download and be able to keep my own content.

The following are some of the many choices for video platforms. They each have their own audience, so you can never assume a video can be one size fits all.

Maker TV requires a minimum monthly viewership before you can be accepted to the site, but once you are, there is an opportunity to grow your YouTube channel.

Vimeo is used by a lot of filmmakers and music artists. The platform only allows original material that you played a role in creating and hold the copyright to.

Facebook Live is a live streaming option from your Facebook page. In Canada, so far you can't use it from your personal page. There is an icon that shows up in the post options that allows you to post instant videos.

Dailymotion has a copyright filtering system that will flag anything you try to upload that isn't your own.

Vine videos are six-second shorts that can only be posted from a compatible mobile device.

Instagram videos can be a minute or less, and must also be posted from a compatible mobile device.

UStream is one of the first interactive live-streaming video platforms on the market and is still kicking.

Twitch is a popular live streaming platform for the gaming community.

Periscope is a live streaming mobile app owned by Twitter.

YouNow is a live streaming video chat platform that has a younger participating membership.

Now get filming and have fun!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Creatures of Yes

Brooklyn's Puppeteer Jacob Graham has come up with a brilliant video series called The Creatures of Yes. It's a show about puppets discovering things for the first time and learning to interact. No, it's not a knockoff from Sesame Street. It's a 1970's flavored puppet show brought to a streaming video platform. It's simple, vintage, and delightful. This Vice review offers a good overview.

Besides its YouTube channel, there is a website: creaturesofyes.com that gives you that 1970s vintage feel. (Oh my God, is 1970s considered vintage?!)

On the Instagram channel, you can see how Graham has carved a niche for himself using liquid lights, lasers, and analog synthesizers.

So as we look at the collective platforms The Creatures of Yes appear on, each intertwine with each other, but many of the posts tell a different story, and collectively, they make up the sum of the whole. That's transmedia in action.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Use a Podcast as a Transmedia Platform

You have a story that centers around a screenplay. That script may turn into a movie, a play, or even a podcast.

Maybe the story is a movie, that can be turned into a book, that can be turned into Vine vignettes or YouTube clips. The podcast may flush out the story even further, but how?

First, let's visit the concept of a podcast. The Wikipedia definition is this, "podcast is a form of digital media that consists of an episodic series of audiovideodigital radioPDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded automatically through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device."

There are numerous host sites where you can house your podcast. The best thing to do is research them and find out which format you like the most. SoundCloud, Podomatic, and PodBean are just a handful of venues. I've used both SoundCloud and Podomatic free versions. Podomatic can also be used as an aggregate site to get your podcast onto iTunes

The benefit of a podcast is that you don't have to have a regimented schedule like you would need for a radio broadcast. It can be whatever you want it to be. Here are some examples for that screenplay:

  • The mechanics of writing a screenplay.
  • A stream of consciousness from one of the characters from the screenplay.
  • The writer interviews various people about different topics that are related to the screenplay.
  • A day in the life of a movie producer.
  • Behind the scenes.
  • Do's and don't's as an actor.
  • Narrating scenes in the script.

You can find more podcast ideas here and some unique ideas here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Turning Your Book Into a Transmedia Project

The publishing industry. It still creates the dream of having a book in hand, but we can also just do it ourselves. Even so, a book isn't going to miraculously make you famous or rich just because it's done. Ask any author, even a bestselling one.

Nope. A book is only the beginning. Now that you're published, what are YOU going to do to get eyeballs inside the covers?

Face it. Nobody collects books because of who published them (unless they're Whitman Publishing vault books; those are works of art). They collect books for a) subject matter and b) who authored them. Can anyone really recall without looking who published Stephen King's last book? Yea, me neither.

Even if a publisher forks out the dough to design, print, and distribute your book, the onus is still on the author to sell it. The publisher's marketing efforts are pretty limited, so an author has to be invested in his or her book.

Today, the transmedia tools are at your fingertips. Don't look at the book. Look at the STORY. Look at the topics, the characters, the things that make the words worthwhile to read.

Even if you don't have a proper video camera, if you have a smartphone, tablet, or a webcam on your computer, create your own trailer. YouTube is full of book trailers. Just search out some that seem feasible for your skill set.

Do you have a compelling lead character? Maybe a female Captain America? Bam! Facebook page and write your posts as if they are being written by that character. Or maybe your book is non-fiction and helps people use alternative methods to fight tooth decay. Boom! Facebook page on How to Fight Tooth Decay Without Seeing a Dentist.

Is your topic, character visual? Start an Instagram and/or Pinterest account. Blog about the tooth decay tips that are in your book and take it further with more up to date information. Use Blogger, like this one you are reading. It's free. You can dress it up and customize it, and it is linked to Google, the largest search engine in the world. So make sure you also do a kick ass bio with links.

There are many things you can do to move your characters and book message around the web. The key is to make sure the storytelling is unique to each of the platforms you use.

How to turn a book into an entertainment franchise. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Transmedia Incubators

There is nothing like a group of creatives sitting together hatching ideas. One person can be very astute on how to discover ways to push out stories and products, but when you add another equally ingenious mind, you've got what a friend of mine calls popcorn happening. The flow of clever concepts come in faster than you can write them down.

Transmedia incubators are becoming a thing, even though the term transmedia is still a puzzlement for even the more savvy social media advocates.

Schools, creative agencies, and entertainment projects are developing dedicated spaces to bring people together to kick storytelling into high gear. A hackathon for storytelling, if you will.

Finding the right cocktail of platforms, ideas, branches, and media to create a transmedia campaign doesn't just happen. It takes a great deal of thought, imagination, and boldness to step beyond what might constitute as normal to push the envelope and find the ingredients to fully enthrall and excite an audience to come to, support, and share a film, book, idea, or concept.

The incubator could be a room, a virtual studio, a Google Hangout, a Skype call, conference call, or any medium that brings more than one person together physically, verbally, or virtually.

Great minds don't just think alike, they brainstorm works of transmedia art.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Virtual Reality Theater

It may not look pretty from the outside, but on the inside, it freaking rocks.

Virtual reality isn't a trend. It's here to stay, so entertainment companies better get used to the idea of retooling some of their storytelling to fit the VR cinemas that are popping up all over the world.

Some of you may have thought 3-D was cool, however, 360-D is much cooler. It is like experiencing the story from the inside.

While VR may change the way cinemas are built, it likely won't replace the movie theater as we know it. Retrofitting a room for this type of viewing won't be too expensive, but it's still not that cheap to convert the movies. But what this technology has done is opened up the creative playing field to stretch the boundaries of storytelling, to make the audience a part of the story first-hand.

Vivid VR is scheduled to open on July 16. It is going to be the first virtual reality theater in North America.

The entertainment industry is slowly adapting and creating VR content, but it will be some time before a VR full-length feature film is considered mainstream.

I predict that we will see this platform evolve a lot more by then. Eventually, there won't be a need for those dumb-looking glasses.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

King Bach Proves You Can Pluck a Career off the Vine

This guy.

Forget that he was ranked one of the top 15 high jumpers in the NCAA. Wait? Is that a thing? It is his video media that really warrants a second look, or a third or fourth.

He has over 15.6 followers on Vine and over 840,000 followers on YouTube.

When Andrew Bachelor, aka King Bach, appeared as a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he created his own media because he wasn't getting the parts he wanted as an actor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Art Just Got Serious

It all started with posting a few pictures of graffiti-painted trains on Instagram. Soon I was seeing likes from profiles that embraced "moving galleries," "graffiti art," and "street art." Upon closer look at these other profiles, I discovered there is a large community of folks who have shown me that what some may call graffiti is really remarkable artwork.

Instagram, Flickr, Google+, and other photo-sharing networks have made it easy for people to showcase their art. These platforms have also helped us rethink our knowledge of what art is. It no longer has to hang in a gallery to be appreciated. The world is a much bigger showcase. 

The following are a few samplings of the wonderful street art available on Instagram. This is transmedia in action.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tell A Story With Photographs On SlideShare

If you’re like me, you have a gazillion pictures you’ve taken over the years. Some of them may be quite good. Even if they’re not, chances are they tell a story.
While you may have shoe boxes full of physical prints and negatives that haven’t quite made it to the scanner, if you are now using a digital camera and have amassed a gallery, here is a way to make a cool presentation and show off your talents, for free.
So how about showcasing your photographs on SlideShare?
Open up a blank PowerPoint presentation. If you don’t have Office software on your computer or device, just go to Google Drive and open up a blank presentation. Start playing.
After much gerrymandering of text boxes and blank space, I figured out that if you want a picture to take up the whole slide, upload the picture when you format the slide’s background (right-click on a blank slide and click the format background option). Then you can insert a text box.
Then after you save your completed presentation in PowerPoint (keep it in that format if you should ever want to go back and revise), save it again as a PDF.
Go to SlideShare.net and upload the PDF. Fill out the title, description, and tags. Go back to edit it if you want to add any videos you might have shot that fit the presentation.
Here are some examples of photograph presentations I added to SlideShare.

Things You Miss When You Hurry from A to B from Debbie Elicksen

Originally published (edited photograph) on freelancepublishing.net

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Instagram as a Transmedia Tool

For those of you who are still figuring out the digital platforms, Instagram is a picture- and video-sharing network for people with mobile devices. It is also a social network, where you can meet and chat with fellow Instagramers in their feeds, or like and share their images.
The platform grew to 400 million in September 2015, to which over 75 million use it daily. Instagram reaches approximately 34 percent of the United States population.
When it comes to storytelling, using Instagram as a transmedia tool can be powerful.
Dave Amirault shows how to use it for an event. From there, there you can use your Instagram settings to automatically share your photographs in other networks or use other network-sharing platforms, such as BufferIFTTT (IF This Then That), and Hootsuite.
So how would it work as a transmedia tool? Let’s take the movie The Imitation Game. It is the story about the man behind what is considered the birthplace of the computer as we know it today. 
Of course, there is the obvious: setting up the Instagram account as The Imitation Game, and then posting imagery surrounding the still shots from the movie, behind the scenes, or the actors involved. This kind of account may have a limited shelf life. While movies do live on and become classics after so many years, the appeal of the website or social media pages tend to wane because after it has been relegated to the DVD, the social content for that particular film runs dry. The production company has already moved onto the next film.
There is another way to keep the content going, while keeping the film “out there” for the long-term, as long as there is a community manager posting to it regularly.
Turn it into a fan site. Start posting fan art related to the movie. Maybe even find a fan you can trust to manage the community.
Instead of the movie title, you could make-up a creative version of IBM’s Watson Computer. This link (about some of the innovations computers have generated) is an example of some of the content that could be shared via photographs, but with your own spin, using the movie stills or solid backgrounds.
Your mind is only as limited as your creativity. 

Originally published October 29, 2015 freelancepublishing.net, Debbie Elicksen

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Using a Hashtag to Create a Movement

Twitter is a formidable platform. When it is used for good, there is no greater viral. 

The most powerful symbol on the Internet is this #, the Twitter hashtag. It represents relevant keywords or phrases that anyone can search, then jump into the conversation. 

Using the search tool or by viewing the hashtag list of what is trending right at this moment, you can find breaking news, tips, opinions, election results, popular conversations, or just random stuff any second of any day. 

There are hashtags created to inject some fun, such as #AdviceFromMyPet #MomQuotes #TwoThingsThatDontMix #DisneyPickUpLines or #UnlikelySequel.

There are hashtags that will show up and trend during a high profile event, such as the Super Bowl #leftshark.

People (and companies) try to use hashtags all the time to create followers, such as #FF (Follow Friday), #tbt (Throwback Thursday), or just #love.

#JeSuisCharlie created a worldwide movement after the 2015 shooting at the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris. In English, it means I Am Charlie, and it represents standing up to those who want to silence freedom of speech. It was a hashtag used to mobilize citizen journalists and to honor the integrity of the written word.

#BlackLivesMatter became a household phrase and has been used outside of Twitter as much as on the platform. It is a term that grew out of the disturbing trend of black men dying at the hands of police across the United States. It morphed into a civil rights movement to engage the conversation of how black citizens are being marginalized and oppressed through economic and systematic targeting.

We also witnessed back in 2011 during Egypt's revolution to oust President Hosni Mubarak where Twitter was used to mobilize protesters and as a witness to the events.

However, it was the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests that put Twitter at the top for creating a movement. In a country where Internet was banned, where the only source of news was state-run media, virtual private networks and Twitter were how protesters were able to inform the rest of the world about their plight. But it was #Neda that put the protest into every search engine and every North American news channel. Despite how the Iranian government denied it was brutalizing its citizens, when the image of Neda Agha-Soltan being shot and dying in the street was posted to YouTube, the outrage could be heard around the globe.

Twitter is a powerful instrument for the transmedia toolbox, if it's used right. There is no sure-fire recipe, except that each project has to be evaluated on its own in order to create a strategy. Perhaps the best advice the Internet can give us is to think through the what-could-go-wrong possibilities before pushing it live.