smsociety14 has ended
Saturday, September 27 • 14:16 - 14:35
"Toward a Cross-Platform Brand Storytelling Model"

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

Background: Social media brings with its inherent interactive features new possibilities for businesses and marketing. One example is content marketing, a technique of creating and distributing content to attract and influence a clearly defined audience. However, successfully using social media in marketing does not come easy. To be impactful, digital content must carry the elusive qualities of being “sharable” and “likeable,” making marketing increasingly complex (Gensler, Völckner, Li-Thompkins, & Wiertz, 2013; Singh & Sonnenburg, 2012).

Social media usage studies show that consumers use different social media platforms for information gathering as well as entertainment purposes. Hence, consuming as well as producing content (Bruns, 2008) with multiple media and diverse platforms is becoming the norm.

This means that users (and/or producers) have become more skilful and used to high quality social media content. Thus brands are scrambling to find the key to creating engaging content, and competing in the online space requires ongoing content creation involving strategic and creative thinking.

Objective: This paper introduces a story-focused analytic model that can be used to assess how brands communicate identity and achieve brand loyalty across digital platforms. The model was built using a theoretical framework informed by narrative theory (Hyvärinen, 2007), transmedia theory (Phillips, 2012), and marketing (Zinnbauer & Honer, 2011), and tested on an award-winning brand in content marketing, Warby Parker[i].

The paper argues that the concept of “storyworlds” should be central to cross-platform content marketing. Transmedia studies (Blumenthal & Xu, 2012) explains that stories are most effective when they are communicated across multiple platforms because they require users to gather information themselves in order to piece together and deeply understand the world of the story. When a user pulls together unique pieces of a story from different platforms, they become immersed in the story’s narrative world.

Methods: The content analysis model consists of a coherent and relational set of qualitative analysis instruments, including multimodal analysis (i.e. the systematic analysis of multiple communication channels) and transmedia analysis. By using a multi-method approach, the model aims to answer the specific needs of social media analysis. The model hence analyses the marketing campaigns at the level of the story, the platform, and the individual modes.

Results: The defined elements of narrative, transmedia, and marketing discourse informed the coding of Warby Parker campaigns. Codes that appear frequently in the texts are considered useful for building cross-platform brand stories, whereas non-dominant codes are considered less useful. 

The insight that resulted from this coding informed a criteria catalogue that includes a high-level theoretical structure, with specific dominant elements pulled from the data collection, which the project recommends are useful in the process of planning cross-platform brand stories.

Conclusions: Conclusions suggest that the theoretical areas studied and identified as relevant to cross-platform storytelling are indeed applicable to the analysis of cross-platform brand texts. The multimodal analysis instruments as well as the cross-platform focus particularly helped with the framework, given that the analysed campaign encompassed several social media, i.e. blogs, Instagram, and the company website.



Bruns, Axel. (2008). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond. From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang.


Content Marketing Institute (2014). What is content marketing? Retrieved from: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/


Gensler, S., Völckner, F., Liu-Thompkins, Y., & Wiertz, C. (2013). Managing brands in the social media environment. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 27, 242-256. doi: 10.1016/j.intmar.2013.09.004


Hyvärinen, M. (2007). Analyzing narratives and story-telling. In P. Alasuutari, L. Bickman & J. Brannen (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Social Research Methods (pp. 447-460). London: Sage.


Phillips, A. (2012). A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling. USA: McGraw-Hill.


Singh, S. & Sonnenburg, S. (2012). Brand performances in social media. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26, 189-197. doi: 10.1016/j.intmar.2012.04.001


Zinnbauer, M. & Honer, T. (2011). How brands create social currency – a framework for managing brands in a network era. Marketing Review St. Gallen, 28(5), 50-55. doi: 10.1007/s11621-011-0063-8


[i] http://www.warbyparker.com


Alanna Mager

Ryerson University
avatar for Frauke Zeller

Frauke Zeller

Associate Professor, Ryerson University
I am the co-creator of hitchBOT!

Saturday September 27, 2014 14:16 - 14:35
TRS 1-003 Ted Rogers School of Management

Attendees (0)