So, what does Storyworld Expansion Across Social Networks mean?
In one sense the answer is simple – it’s pretty self-explanatory:
Stretching or fragmenting the world of your story onto public social media sites and forums.
That’s the easy answer…
But how is it done? What are the rules? Are there even any rules? If an idea works for one project will it work for another? How does it differ across mediums and platforms?
All Good Questions
Essentially, social media increases interaction among audiences and allows them to learn more about the world in which the story is set.
Social media allows a creative writer to go beyond the standard franchise Facebook page or the crappy character teaser video tacked onto someone’s wall.
Sometimes, social networks are the very building blocks to the storyworld itself.
The more the storyworld spreads across social media, the deeper the audience can venture and the more they can learn.
Enter: Lizzie Bennet
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an Emmy award winning YouTube series that stretches across multiple social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. This is a fascinating case study, as social media isn’t just used as a means to expand a story, it’s used as the platform on which to build the entire world.
While the core of the story is delivered in a Vlog fashion on YouTube, audiences can plunge the deep depths of the LBD storyworld by visiting the accounts and profiles of other characters in the story; each one providing a little more information about the storyworld, and the character’s role within it.
Letting the audience discover the storyworld by following the characters on social media is genius.
It draws on one of the biggest cultural obsessions among audiences – following celebrities and seeing the world through their eyes.
And LBD isn’t the only one to act on this…
Ted Talks… (Not that one – The Crude One)
The 2012 film ‘Ted’, which is based on a fictitious (and magical) talking teddy bear managed to gain 7 million followers on Facebook.
Not the franchise’s Facebook page… the actual character himself.
Ted posted memes and selfies of himself living his life and shared them with fans, spreading his outlandish sense of humour over social media and even referencing some things from the film.
The audience loved it because it let them see what it’s like to live inside his twisted little storyworld – the parts they didn’t see in the film.
Art Imitates Life…
And why stop there?
How many of you turn social media into your digital brain?
You post every waking thought on Twitter and videos of pranks or pictures of nights out onto Facebook.
You use Pinterest to share hobbies and SnapChat to annoy your friends, or DeviantArt to upload artistic ventures…
Your characters could (and should) do the same.
If a character in a AAA video game joins an evil government corporation – then the CEO of said corporation should have a LinkedIn page and a Google Plus account.
Employees that you meet you have Facebook pages that give you insights into office life at the corporation and post clues onto Twitter about a conversation they heard in game…
The Corporation itself should have a social media presence and frequently host propaganda led Hashtag campaigns.
Maybe even raise an army among fans, gamify the war between the evil corporation and those who wish to destroy it across social networks.
The Point Being…
Social media is more than just a half-assed account of the characters involved your story. It’s a living, breathing social eco-system.
Audiences go there for two reasons to interact and watch stuff… So let them!
This is especially important when engaging in Social TV, but more of that in part 2…