Why network theory is important to your transmedia project

Social Media Prism by birgerking

Net­work the­o­ry can help explain why users are shar­ing on which social media

Lots of peo­ple are talk­ing about cross-plat­form, trans­me­dia, wave-of-the-future projects. So what? With­out an audi­ence, you’re just spin­ning your wheels. There are oth­er prod­ucts out there, being seen by mil­lions of peo­ple.

But just how are these things get­ting expo­sure? Can a per­son fig­ure out why things go viral? How? Can a savvy pro­duc­er (or said pro­duc­er’s mar­ket­ing team) “make” some­thing go viral using known for­mu­las?

Short answers: net­works, yes, net­work the­o­ry, and kin­da-sor­ta-not-real­ly.

When I say “net­work,” most web cit­i­zens will think social media. Which is not (entire­ly) what I mean. I’m talk­ing about the math­e­mat­i­cal analy­sis of networks–how they devel­op, their var­i­ous struc­tures, and how those struc­tures affect the mechan­ics of inter­ac­tion between indi­vid­u­als with­in them.

But how is this specif­i­cal­ly a trans­me­dia thing, as opposed to a film thing (or a music thing, or…)?

It’s not. Specif­i­cal­ly. And yet it is. Also specif­i­cal­ly.

WTH?” you may be think­ing. So let me clar­i­fy: while using net­work the­o­ry to help you in your mar­ket­ing mod­el­ing and analy­sis is a good idea for all projects, a mul­ti-plat­form project can ben­e­fit even more by specif­i­cal­ly tai­lor­ing said mar­ket­ing to each and every plat­form you use. To wit: con­tent con­sumers use their phones dif­fer­ent­ly than they use their lap­tops, which is dif­fer­ent than they use their TVs. Even with­in social media, this is true–using Face­book as an app is not the same expe­ri­ence as using it on a web brows­er. How users inter­act with their social net­works on each of these plat­forms affects how they find and share con­tent–your con­tent. Know­ing the mechan­ics behind these dif­fer­ences will give you insight into why some things work bril­liant­ly well on one SM plat­form, but falls flat on anoth­er.

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