To belong and be unique – how transmedia can help

uniqueOne discussion I had at Input 2014 arose from a Twitter conversation I’d had with people attending the Mobile West Africa conference in Lagos, Nigeria. There, the mobile penetration is quite amazing, and mobile reportedly counts for 9.5% of Nigeria’s total GDP.

The truth I realized while talking about how youth in Nigeria use mobile to connect and reaffirm, might seem like a basic one, but I can feel that it will have an impact on how I approach development work on future projects.

People today, and especially young people, want to belong. That’s why the youth of today flock to Instagram – since everyone else is there – and abandon Facebook, since no one else they want to belong to is there. This feeling of inclusion, of being a part of a greater whole, part of a movement, part of an elusive entity that some might call a ”generation”… there is strength in numbers, and a certain euphoria to be attained when feeling like more than just one person, even if it is in a virtual, online sense.

At the same time, most of us have the urge to be uniqe. We want to express ourselves, stand apart from the crowd in the crowd’s eyes, in a positive way. We want to reaffirm ourselves as thinking, feeling beings and we want to realize our full potential.

Both of these urges can, in my opinion, be addressed through the use of multiplatform and transmedia storytelling. When creating content for a target audience, you can involve them all on a greater level and achieve the inclusion of everyone within the same framework, while at the same time carving out places – sandboxes – where the individual members of the audience who are so inclined can express themselves and expose their achievements to their peers and others. Having used transmedia storytelling methods when developing, we can also guarantee that what they create still fits into the story world the rest of the story – and the rest of the audience – exists in.

Not only do they get to be a part of a greater whole, they also get to be apart from that greater whole, in a positive way. And their creativity will reinforce and support the story or stories we’re trying to convey to people. A win-win situation, I believe you’d call it!


Simon Staffans is a content and format developer and media strategist, employed by MediaCity Finland. He works with multiplatform storytelling, transmedia development procedures and great stories. Contact him at simon.staffans(at) or follow him on @simon.staffans.


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