Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking at how various social media can be used for transmedia storytelling. As part of this experimentation I put together a short photo essay with complementary text and put variations up on Facebook, Pinterest, and Prezi.
The resulting essays, though they used the same content, were very different depending on the social media channel used.
With Facebook, the essay was put in a photo album and text was added as a description for each photograph. While it was possible to tell a story using Facebook, creating a photo essay isn’t optimum. The problem is with the layout of a page, with the photo being displayed prominently, while the text is off to the side along with other pieces of information. It is difficult to give the text and images equal weight and having them work closely together to tell the story.
The strength of Facebook is not the photo album but rather, using images and text individually as elements of an extended conversation that you are having with those you’ve friended.
Pinterest is a better vehicle for this kind of photo essay. However, it has its own challenges, the most significant being the lack of control the author has over the sequencing of the content. Depending on readers discovering your work by simply popping into Pinterest’s main page is a hit-and-miss proposition. Any “pins” you have will go onto the main Pinterest page mixed in with other content pinned at the same time. This makes is almost impossible to control what point the reader enters your story from.
Pinterest is image oriented so the image is the dominant feature of any pin. That means making the images you use instantly engaging. The text is secondary but unlike Facebook, it is closely tied to the image without a lot of visual distractions.
Pins are entered displayed so the most recent appears first on the “board” while the oldest appears last. This can be a problem if your story is highly dependent upon a strict sequence of elements. When writing for Pinterest, develop the story in a way that each pin is a “mini-story” that is complete enough to stand on its own but connected to a broader “macro-story” that ties these individual mini-stories into a larger context.
I’ll talk about my experience with Prezi as a storytelling platform in my next post. In the meantime, you can see my Pinterest boards for “Autumn at 59” and “Transmedia Storytelling” at http://pinterest.com/pvonstackelberg/.