Mobile, transmedia and timing

Rob Pratten’s graph on the 5 “R”s of mobile in transmedia storytelling.

Rob Pratten had a brief but excellent post up on Transmedia Coalition the other day, entitled ”The 5Rs of Mobile in Transmedia Storytelling”. To recapitalize briefly, the gist of the post were that – as inspiration and guidance when including mobile in a transmedia project – the ”5 Rs” should be considered. These were, in order, Read, Reveal, Record, Receive and React, each highlighting a different use of a mobile device in the context of a transmedia project.

Rob also mentions other aspects that needs considering when thinking mobile – implementation, usability, motivation and so on. I want to add an aspect that I’ve read about with great interest a couple of weeks ago – timing.

One key factor of mobile usage is comfortability. A smart phone is easy to take with you, it’s easy to fish out of a pocket and look at, it’s an immediate connection to the world around you and beyond. A tablet, while nearly as convenient, still for instance requires the use of a bag of some sort to carry it along, and most often requires the use of both hands to scroll, write, navigate etc.

The Guardian and Financial Times released some quite interesting figures on how people access their content. Spikes at lunch breaks are to be expected, but the fact that their web sites was the prime point of access during day time, while their respective apps were in use during breakfast, commute and before bed time, is interesting. Another find – which should come as no surprise either – is that tablets are in use over the weekends, when longer texts, for instance those on entertainment news and arts are accessed.

How to approach this as a creator? Well, for instance, if you know the time zones your users live in, time your content accordingly. During the weekdays, release short-form content to keep the fire burning (or ”Never Go Dark”, one of my favorite phrases). During the weekends, release longer strands of narrative – be it video form, text form, graphic novel chapters or whatever. Take the narrative forward in leaps over the weekend, in steps during the week. And aim correctly – a PEW study shows that less than 30% of smartphone users read longer texts, whereas the figure is 80% for tablet users.

Even more interesting is to go into people’s use of their mobile devices during the day. A study from April shows that 62% of 18-44 year olds check their mobile phones the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning. 79% check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. Again, if you know the time zones these people live in; time new content so that personalized versions – short form, remember? – are the first things that the people encounter in the morning; getting their heads tuned in to your narrative from the very start of the new day.

All in all, there are a myriad ways to go wrong when designing, producing and distributing a transmedia project with mobile included as a major variable in the equation. On the other hand, there are many ways to go right as well. The upside is, if you get it right, chances are you’ll have an engaged audience with immediate feedback possibilities within the reach of the press of a ”publish” button. That’s pretty interesting indeed.

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