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Ongoing Narrative in Micro Media

February 13, 2009

Recently I unblocked my Twitter account as an experiment.  I did it just to see who would follow me and observe my own reaction.  I can be paranoid and antisocial.  So social media is already weird.  But I was curious, so I opened it up.  A few (hopefully) harmless strangers joined my tribe.  Cool.  Then one day this dude named Stefano Dimera started following me.  His picture looked like a warlock.

His hometown was Salem.  His posts were over the top.  And his followers were freaky.  Like they were all out for vengeance and blood.

Stefano Dimera

I told my kid sister “I think a vampire is following me on Twitter.”  She rolled her eyes.  I kept reading the feed, trying to determine if I was living in a virtual Anne Rice novel.  Then I noticed the website was NBC.  What?  Maybe it’s not a vampire.  Maybe it’s … marketing.  Somewhat afraid of a virus — you know, a monster worm on a faux NBC site designed to entice the clueless to blow up their machines with malware — I shrugged and clicked.  Sorry IT.  I just had to know.  So anyway, it wasn’t a vicious malware site.  And it wasn’t a vampire.  It was a character on Days of our Lives.  After reading some of the message board posts in the Days of our Lives community — it’s a passionate, vocal community of psycho fans who take the doings of the peeps in Salem seriously — I went back to Mr. Dimera’s Twitter page and read it again.  Suddenly it all made sense.  And seemed really, really smart.

Melissa and I have been talking about ongoing narrative since the Jack in the Box accident on the Superbowl.  The site had its issues and the content didn’t fulfill expectations of an ongoing narrative at first.  The day after the game Melissa and I were talking about the false start of Jack’s accident and I suggested that to do it right you’d need to treat the ad as the first chapter in a book and pretty much write the rest of the book ahead of time with alternative endings and be ready to go with real-time dialogue.  Think it through ahead of time so you have several narratives built out and the flexibility to respond to consumers without looking flatfooted.  I likened the Jack’s-been-hit-by-a-bus event to a soap opera plot line.

Less than a week later, an actual soap opera character started following me on Twitter.  With references to the plot, in the voice of the character.  A full-on insider Twitter feed for fans.  And apparently the Twitter feed @PeggyOlson of Mad Men, a terrific nightime soap, won a Shorty award for best Twitter account.  Interestingly, the folks behind Miss Olson aren’t affiliated with the show.  But ongoing soap style narratives seem natural for Twitter.

My point, and I do have one, is that these new micro platforms can be terrific outlets for long form, engaging, evolving ideas.  They appear to be all about the super-short form content burst, but the potential is there for much more.  The preparation, core idea and commitment required to execute such ideas makes me relish the challenge and shake in my shoes at the same time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. marypatanselm permalink
    February 13, 2009 10:35 am

    The alternative endings idea is groovy – makes me think of reading those Goosebumps books when I was a wee girl.

  2. MelissaHamilton permalink
    February 13, 2009 11:24 am

    I love Days of our Lives, I am totally following him now too.

    Yes, my guilty pleasure is now made public.

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