Immersive story and a social media strategist

Dusan Writer was nice enough to comment on a post of mine, then my blog exploded. I still have the comment in my email, but no longer have the post. I essentially covered the substance of the post in – An introduction to my “new” blog. I could recreate the comment as if nothing happened, but that seems incredibly wrong. There’s something sacred about comments. So instead of trying to re-post the comment or going without it, I decided to create a whole post based on it.

One of the main reasons you’re in my feed is because of the exploration of immersive story – and you’re right, this isn’t something that a lot of people know about. There are very few resources and opinions out there on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to interactive storytelling, what platforms work and which ones don’t.

I wouldn’t argue that point at all. There are far too little written about interactive storytelling. I’m hoping as virtual worlds become more popular artists will naturally begin to experiment with the concept. The key will be if we as a community, or developer community, can supply them with the right tools.

In particular there is an obsession with social media and tweets and plurks, or with code and platforms and whether the water is shiny or not. The ad folks all seem to be talking about brand narratives and questioning whether the Net as a storytelling medium has failed us, but they fail to paint a picture of what it would look like if it didn’t.

I agree that the industry seems too focused on marketing. Reuben Steiger could be the poster child for this, especially after he posted – Has the Internet Failed as a Storytelling Medium? I however am happy Reuben is taking up the banner of narrative, even if for marketing purposes. Maybe Dusan is happy as well, just equally worried that the marketing may corrupt the efforts. Dusan does make a great point in the last sentence – no one has painted a picture of what great storytelling on the internet exactly looks like. In Reuben’s post he came close but still nothing we could touch. I’m guilty of this as well, other than a use case I haven’t been able to really nail down my vision.

Bless you for being a social media strategist – but really – what the hell does that mean, anyways, in the big picture? Social media is for the most part a con job that disguises the fact that businesses and brands and the media have forgotten to take care of their customers, and in the absence of that customers have taken technology and are filling the gap. Sure, they can try to jump on the speeding train as it rushes off to some sort of crowd-sourced open sourced heaven but it doesn’t hide the fact that what they really need to do is care about people and stop staring at widgets and wikis.

Social media empowers users more than companies. I like the idea of moving from monologue marketing to dialogue marketing. Problem is most companies don’t want a dialogue. However that is no longer their choice. I dislike the term social media strategist but HR departments need to build a position around something, and in this case its helping a company move into the dialogue. Actually I’m talking big, I mostly spend my time trying to explain social media and why it’s more involved than just building a widget. But companies are naturally resistant to change and this transition will be extremely painful. As many of these widgets fail, so will these companies. That is better for society as a whole, but I don’t want a world without companies. I too am tired of the predatory practices and want these companies to be better positioned and dedicated to serving me. As Peter Drucker said, “There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.Profit is merely the gauge of how well they’re doing at making a customer.

Immersive storytelling however is the step past all that. Stories in general have the capacity to lift us up, to transmit knowledge, to create new myths, and to help us come to grips with the peril of technology, or change, or just the world around us. Interactive storytelling may be, in fact, the emergence of a truly new narrative form, one that might let us cope with a pace of change and a veritable ocean of information, to let us surf towards the singularity or the cyber meltdown or our dehumanization, whatever scenario you want, with a few tools under our belt and a light in our torch.

I couldn’t say it any better myself.

For brands, say, or teachers, or the media – they need to know how. But they also need to realize that it, first of all, ahead of all the technology and whiz-bang small worlds or twitter streams or Papervision sites, they need to be authentic.

Inauthentic means gazing at the code instead of the tale, or the platform instead of the promise, or the positioning instead of the human beings who will receive it and interact with it and call it their own.

Authenticity is a topic I address every day as a social media strategist. To be authentic a company has to first examine what it is, something most execs never do. If a companies social media strategy isn’t authentic it fails. If an immersive story is done just for marketing reasons it too will fail. However I think there is a balance that can be struck. Movies aren’t made purely for the sake of art.

We need ranters and observers and people who will add a voice to the conversation to remind us that it’s not the wires or the plurks, it’s the fires and the people.

Blog on. Tell us tales.

I’m glad to be part of the conversation.

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