Cross-platform media strategy is rising through the ranks to create new ways of engaging with audiences. This is what I do for a living, and love it, but I can understand why it’s a huge headache and often times, a sunk cost or “experiment.” Often times, the core strategy is a disaster, requiring multiple third party vendors, analytics sources, social networks, huge marketing costs, and no clear monetization strategy, which, of course, leads to poor execution and underwhelming results.
What I offer are thoughts toward strategic planning to help relieve the daunting feelings of these increasingly vital audience-demanded endeavors. Below are Six Tenets that, if planned correctly, can give your audience the interactive experience they are craving, the engagement you wants, and ultimately, the ROI you need.
1. Managing and Creating Content. Have a way to manage and run story-worlds and individual campaigns. The synchronized planning and logistical rollout across platforms is imperative to a well-executed program.
The key to a successful launch is to simplify the management and execution of the technology as much as possible. Have an API that feeds into your “digital hub” by creating more value on both ends. If you have the right tools in place, then you can focus on the creation of these interactive experiences and less on the tech to support them. Audiences want an experience that has strong content and not overly complex to course through, which brings me to my next point.
The most important part of your campaign is creating good content. Even if your technology is strong, if the content is weak, your experience will still fail. The use of storytelling tools like quizzes, digital missions, UGC (user generated content), rewards, logic tree games are simple and fun ways to immerse your audience.
The root of most failures is found in being overly complex and not focused enough of the actual narrative and creative around it. If the technology is as much of your focus as the creative, you are divided and already conquered.
One tip to avoid this is to use a single Content Management System to manage a vast majority of the experience, and create quality content to populate it with. There are no short cuts in strong creative, but there are tech solutions out there.
2. Mobile & Multi-Screen Experiences. The importance of mobile and multi-screen accessibility, especially for international markets, cannot be overstated. As all marketers know, being able to connect with audiences anywhere and engage anytime is imperative in the digital age.
It’s no secret that mobile is important both domestically and especially in foreign markets, where mobile is far more accessible than traditional computers/laptops. As such, you must ensure that your experience is optimized for a great user experience on mobile devices. Also, know your limitations – depending on your experience, you may need to consider a lighter mobile experience with limited functionality to ensure that it is has a strong user experience.
As with all second screen experiences, don’t make them so that they are distracting from the overall purpose. Only create on the platform if it enhances the overall experience.
3. Make it Social. Build your own communities where you have the control, own the content/experience and, ultimately, the audience. The use of existing social tools (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) is important, but why should a third party be the primary platform where your fans engage with your experience? Gather your audience into a world you can build and control.
Currently, most experiences drive and live within a third party platform, which leaves the control in the hands of those third parties. Of course there is a sense that you “own” your YouTube channel or Facebook page, but in fact, you are a the mercy of those channels, which in many cases, is pulling your audience away to another advertisement and hoarding the data. These channels should be looked at as distribution channels to lure in your audience into YOUR social network, which you own and control. This paradigm is critical for long-term engagement with your audience. While I don’t believe in a “walled garden,” approach per say, I do believe in building a garden with multiple entry points leading to it.
4. Create A Rewards System. With every action the audience takes in your world, build in opportunities for rewards to draw them deeper into the experience – be it virtual currency or real-world goods.
As audiences expect something for their effort, rewards provide an excellent opportunity to create loyalty. To many online, their “time” is their “currency.” Once they’ve “invested” enough into your experience because of the debits you’ve been depositing into their accounts, you will have a chance to gain their loyalty. Whether it’s creating a profile or uploading a secret code, or even logging in the next day, reward them! Offering virtual currently along with awards, etc. is also an opportunity for monetization, which I describe below.
5. Monetize Your Content. Ultimately the reason for most content to exist besides engagement, is to monetize the audience. Cross-platform engagement offers unprecedented brand integration opportunities, real/virtual commerce, platform extensions (apps, games, books) and more.
Brand integration into content is a no-brainer and there are fun, and as trite as it sounds, “authentic” ways of doing so. Take for example Heineken’s very talked about “Skyfall” campaign to promote to the latest James Bond film on Facebook. (Check out it out here if you haven’t). They had an experience that enabled personalization and active engagement. Where they failed is that it lived in Facebook (see Tenet #3), so Facebook had their audience. Despite this, the content was fun and I and many others remembered it.
To summarize, your experience provides a marketplace for you to sell your goods. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Sell bundles of your virtual currency.
- Sell exclusive content experiences paid for by advertisers (i.e. Heineken “Skyfall” game/video).
- Promote, drive toward various platform extensions.
- Brand virtual goods like badges.
- Couponing/Redemption codes.
- Real-world merchandise.
6. Know Your Audience. At the end of the day, you want to know who your audience is, why their engaging with your content and what they’ve connected with most deeply so that you can best tailor the experience.
Forget Facebook ‘likes’ or YouTube views – what I propose is having analytics that you own and see that demonstrates how your audience is interacting with the experience you worked so tirelessly to create. For example, you create a series of five tasks to complete and you see that there is a 50% completion rate – what if you where actually able to see exactly which task may be the culprit and change it? This can be invaluable to long-term success and ultimately ROI. If you are able to actually see how your audience is behaving, you can improve current experiences in a timely manner, replicate best practices, and prototype for the future. Further, your chances to retain your audience greatly increase which leads to more production and marketing efficiencies over a longer period of time.
As you may embark on creating audience engagement through cross-platform experiences, be sure to follow these key strategic guidelines, and compelling experiences will follow!