Authenticity and trust were big buzz words at this year’s 2010 Ypulse Youth Marketing Mashup, held in San Francisco May 24 and 25. So were words like user-generated and social networking strategy.
But there was an old-school word that kept floating around from keynotes to panel discussions: storyteller.
“The only thing that hasn’t changed is that you still need a good story,” said Ariel Aberg-Riger, creative development and marketing director for Fourth Story Media.
Aberg-Riger was a panelist at what turned out to be the most book-focused session of the conference: Multimedia Narratives: Engaging Youth on Multiple Screens.
On the panel, she – along with representatives from other multimedia content producers, such as Alloy Digital’s v-p of strategic partnership and content Craig Bland – said that while publishers need to pay attention to new methods of storytelling, they should also keep their focus on the fundamentals.
When discussing how technology has changed storytelling, panelists agreed that users wanted much more interaction and immersion. “It’s not so much about format,” Alloy’s Bland told conference attendees. “It’s more about the total experience.”
Aberg-Riger showed a promotional clip to demonstrate some new ideas about reaching readers in new ways. Fourth Story Media’s debut series, The Amanda Project, a collaborative idea that launched this past fall, invites readers to become characters though an interactive Web site. By writing in with their ideas, readers can influence the direction of the eight-book mystery about a missing girl.
Readers immediately got the idea and began engaging in the story, according to Aberg-Riger. This, she said, is something content producers should remember as they started their own interactions with readers: “Once you start dialogue, you have to keep it going,” she said.
But even with new technologies, YA audiences still continue to be interested in the same kinds of stories – and heroes – whether they are seeing the characters first come to life on Web sites, video games, TV, or books.
Aberg-Riger spoke of The Amanda Project’s protagonist being both aspirational and someone readers could imagine in their world. And Gererate CEO Jordan Levin reminded the audience that teens are still “having to deal with identity issues.”
What’s changed, he says, is you now have choices in how you roll the story out.