As brands and agencies increasingly rely on the power of storytelling in their efforts, they’d do well to follow the lead of prolific bestselling author James Patterson- whose latest book is utilizing social media in a whole new way.
Patterson’s latest book has been out since October 30th- via Facebook Messenger. Patterson partnered with the app to release the short novel on the messaging platform, taking advantage of it to weave photos, video, and simulated messages together to construct a narrative for the reader—all for free. As brands look to influencers or AR-enabled tools to immerse customers and followers, this tech-enabled “choose your own adventure” strategy represents an additional means to engage people with content.
The shift in engagement was intentional for the author, who shopped it to Facebook and appreciates their involvement in the book’s release (although, they note, they have no additional plans for content of this type). Patterson told Cheddar it’s “so important that books keep up, that they enter the modern age.” Having sold 350 million books the more traditional way, he’s now seeking to play with how technology can augment the reader’s experience.
“When you read this, you’re going to see film, you’re going to hear audio clips, you’ll see photography, etc. It’s a real 360° experience.” What’s more, it creates an unprecedented opportunity for the author to connect with readers. “Exploring new ways to connect with fans is important to me, and Messenger’s experience for The Chef not only makes the story more accessible to readers across new generations but offers an enticing and thrilling read like never before.”
Users wanting to read The Chef, the story of a police detective and food truck owner investigating a terror plot, need only send a knife emoji via Messenger to the book’s Facebook page. From there, they’ll be guided through the story, with urges to search for clues. Those looking for details beyond what’s presented in the messenger can explore character Instagram accounts for even more intel. And given the book’s subject matter- yes, you should expect stylized food photos when you read.
The print edition of the book will hit bookshelves in February 2019, but Patterson is excited by the prospect of this “bookie” experience—this mashup between a book and a movie. “Nobody’s sort of done that before.” He freely admits further, “Ten years ago, if you told me I’d see one of my novels come to life through scrolling chat bubbles, I would have laughed.” These days? He’s setting a precedent for a new kind of storytelling that could impact how writers and marketers bring their stories to life.
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