Bram Stoker: The original blogger

Tonight’s PBS retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula reminds me of a post I’ve been composing in my head for months but haven’t permitted myself to submit. I wanted to write about the storytelling (and marketing!) power of blogs. Thus my hesitation. I refuse to be a party to navel-gazing.

In the ten months I’ve been writing Digital Solid, I’ve encountered so many bloggers talking about blogging on their blogs. And who cares? Other bloggers, that’s who. Give me a break!

In this space I have talked about using technology to tell stories — and how storytelling is key to marketing. But there’s another fact you need to know: The blog is a unique medium for storytelling — one that is growing in relevance to marketers.

One friend recounted his Great Lakes sailing adventure in real time via his blog. Others have reported on their struggles to launch a product or a software upgrade. Their adventures have unfolded, one post at a time. And I’ve followed, loyal reader that I am.

Just as I followed exciting stories as a preteen, when I first read the groundbreaking novel of a humble Irish civil servant, Bram Stoker. His chilling book, Dracula, along with Edgar Allen Poe’s writings, ignited in me an enduring love of scary stories. But even then I realized that Stoker’s style was unusual. Most of Dracula was told as diary entries.

This evening I saw a (not very good) retelling of his story on television. What I am truly anticipating is the day when this story is presented as a faux-blog.

It would start with the postings of Jonathan Harker, the young clerk who shows the poor judgement of advancing his career in the mountains of Transylvania. Other characters would follow suit, just as they do in the pages of the novel.

A fiction blog (do you have a better name for it?) would have special demands. The novel takes place over the course of several weeks. I expect that the blog would compress the action considerably. Perhaps several action-packed entries would even be posted in quick succession on the same day.

But the point is, the Dracula blog would be wholly entertaining. And yes, it could be sponsored.

Now think of a more contemporary serial, presented by a brand wishing to show itself in the context of the story being told. And imagine devoted readers, who look forward to receiving the next installments via RSS. That day is not too remote, and in the words of one of Stoker’s characters, it will be cracking good fun.

It is happening today, by the way, on a cell phone near you. The Last Messages is a novel told exclusively through cell phone text messages. Finnish subscribers followed the story through over 1,000 messages sent to their phones.

2 Replies to “Bram Stoker: The original blogger”

  1. You’re right it is happening today,

    Every Monday I do my best to get my work done as quickly as possible so that I can grab my favorite blanket, a bottle of Gatorade, and prepare for NBC’s Heroes.

    Throughout the week I check in faithfully to Hiro Nakamura’s blog. Hiro one of the more popular characters on the show can bend time and space. Stop time, freeze time, reverse time, he’s got all kinds of time control. He’s an honorable guy and lives his life in pursuit of his noble quest to save the world.

    Hiro’s blog picks up where the show leaves off, talking about his feelings and premonitions, reinforcing his experiences in the show.

    From there I head to the comics section (what can I say I’m a comic buff) where I get extended character stories. Graphic Novels (is that what they’re calling it now) are released in web or PDF format; they corroborate character experiences, share character back stories, and even introduce new characters online before they air.

    Last week Hana who calls herself “Wireless” was introduced on a new episode. But being the loyal fan that I was I went online and made sure that I got the inside scoop before the show aired; I learned about Hana’s back story so when I saw last weeks episode I was right in stride.

    Even with their bold approach Nissan has managed to weave their brand into the story itself. Initially I thought it was too bold, yet over time I’ve come to expect that Hiro and Ando will show up in their Nissan Versa. That car has really started to grow on me. This is the kind of sales and marketing that I don’t mind at all.

    For me it’s all about relevancy. If we as marketers can weave our customer’s wares into something that their customers are interested in they’ll obviously be more open to the message. While many would think that this is common sense, I still see evidence saying otherwise (I still saw plenty of ads for tampons while watching the Dakar race).

    Avid TV blog reader? You bet.
    Heroes? My favorite show.
    Hiro and Ando’s car of choice? Nissan Versa.

    With Nissan stitching their brand into the storyline, I just can’t see Hiro and Ando without their little Nissan Versa, short of the apocalypse of course.

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