Solid economics in a fluid content world


Following up on my last post, the post on using layered storytelling as a way of coping with reaching and engaging people in today’s world, I promised some brief thoughts on one of the things we’re all concerned about – money. How do we get a credible revenue stream from our stories? When we have connected and engaged with the audience, how do we turn that engagement into funding; funding that will help us make more of what we’ve already made and give us something to point to when we want to enthuse future partners and financiers about new ideas and new ventures.

Of all the success metrics we can play with – views on video platforms of different kinds, comments or likes or favourites or replies on social media, prizes and awards from select bodies of more ore less expert-y experts – of all of these, revenue and ROI are the ones least possible to argue with.

There is also no better way to calm possible sponsors, brands and investors than by showing previous profitable ventures combined with sound strategies for achieving similar results this time around. But what is it we need to do?

First, it has to be acknowledged that this ”what” depends highly on your project. A documentary producer will have less avenues to revenue than, say, someone producing sports-related content, entertainment related content or something similar. But right now we’re seeing a lot of interesting developments that we need to pay heed to.

First, and this is based on the layered principles in the previous posts, thinking of our stories and our content as existing on different layers with different traits and different purposes will help us notice possibilities for revenue.

If one layer is the ”notification” layer (since there are a great number of people reading nothing but notifications anymore, leading to news sites appointing teams of journalists with the sole mission of writing stories as notifications) we have a layer where we catch the initial interest of our audience. The task of the layer is to grab hold of their interest, their imagination and point them to what we want them to do next. The headline writers are the star writers of tomorrow – no matter if we encounter these notifications on social media, on messaging apps or anywhere else.

Another layer, the interactive layer, can consist of stories and content on personal messaging apps – as more and more stories and more and more content will come to play out on WhatsApp, Kik, Snapchat and so on. All of these are – in and of themselves – extremely interested in anything that can make them make more money, and new possibilities to, for instance, pay with micropayments and peer-to-peer transactions from inside these messaging apps (for content, for merchandize, for extra what-have-you) will come to the fore this year – and this is something we, when we create stories, need to be on top of.

A third layer, a flash layer, can be the one that tells parts of our stories through live streaming video platforms like Periscope, live, direct and uninterrupted – offering us the possibility to authentically connect to real-life events, real-life brands and real-life overall. And so we can go on building layers, as our stories and story archs dictate, always keeping the story world and our overarching goals in mind.

Secondly, with our stories, we can offer brands what they crave the most – engaging content, as opposed to content that interrupts. In a research paper from Reuters 54% of digital executives stated that ”increasing the levels of engagement” was going to be their top priority in 2016. I don’t think we, as content creators and storytellers, should have this any lower on our list of priorities.

With our stories, we can pan out the story lines and the divergent stories of our story world on any number of platforms, leaving everything from vague trails of bread crumbs that point to attached brands, to clear routes to purchases of merchandise or to possibilities for the audience to join in crowd funding ventures; all according to the best needs of our stories and our strategies.

Thirdly and finally – what you need for there to be any possibility for success with these strategies are great stories, engaging narratives, logical connections between different parts and different stories… and preferably some other things as well. I touched on this in a previous post a couple of weeks ago, when talking about the formula for building a community. The same formula is, of course, applicable for stories and content as well.



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