The Walt Disney Co. in many ways is the archetype for applied
Systems Thinking in business. The company builds powerful
franchises that often start in one medium and then power content
across many of the others. This is how Disney rolls. They take a
platform like "High School Musical" and have it span from TV to
film to theme parks and consumer products. And they do it again and
Apple, too, has built a remarkable business by focusing on the
brand and controlling the entire experience end-to-end. This
includes the packaging, advertising, product design and even
retail. This alienates some who value transparency and openness,
notably developers. And it runs counter to open source and open
communications. Yet, arguably, it's a successful walled garden. The
iPod would have never had been successful if there weren't an
iTunes underneath it.
Facebook is a similar breed. It also controls the entire
experience. Unlike Twitter, which built its ecosystem with a
liberal API and now is trying to recapture and monetize some of
these lost eyeballs, Facebook built an elegant walled garden that
became a powerful ecosystem that everyone wanted to plug into.
The takeaway here is that in a world where content is being
increasingly consumed, created and co-created in digital platforms
(and where space is infinite and time is finite), marketers need to
see the media ecosystem as a whole. This involves carefully
crafting a narrative and having it propagate and reverberate across
four interconnected spheres -- what some are calling transmedia
storytelling. This media cloverleaf includes:
TRADITIONAL MEDIA: The old guard, like The New York
Times, as well as digital arms of the TV networks.
TRADIGITAL MEDIA: Net-bred upstarts that are
challenging the status quo, such as The Wrap, GigaOm and
CORPORATE/OWNED MEDIA: Every company can and should be
a media company on both their domain sites and on platforms such as
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter, Facebook and many more, all of
which serve as connective tissue. Sometimes the way we will come at
it will involve paid advertising. More often, however, it will
involve earned media -- and stories that morph and are dynamically
recast once consumers create their own media.
Unfortunately, very few agencies are set up to think or operate
this way because of an assembly-line, industrial-age thinking that
remains a legacy today. The same can be said for many marketing
departments. We will still need specialists who are deeper than
others in one clover or another. However, everyone will need to see
the big picture and understand how all of the pieces of the
narrative fit together in the end consumer's mind as a total
experience -- and then execute accordingly.
Consider this a call to action.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rubel is senior VP-director of insights at Edelman