Last week a friend of mine suggested that I get involved with a social media experiment  being run by a gallery in Brighton.  @Fabrica had tweeted that they were looking for people to take part in a social media ‘game’ of sorts.  Jumping at the chance to ‘play’ whilst passing it off as ‘work’ – I got in touch…

You can read the official write up, but I figured I’d replay the tweets and let you know what I thought as well.

The games was called “Broken Whispers”.  Basically I was told that I would receive a message from a stranger, via tweet.  I then had to change two words and then send the altered message onto another stranger.  The ‘game’ happened three times.  Basically like Chinese Whispers2.0 the game was looking to explore themes of how stories evolve, to tie into an exhibition at the gallery.  As far as I can tell the game players enjoyed it a lot – gaining a cheap thrill out of knowing what these odd messages in their tweet stream were about, tapping into new communities and crucially having fun.

The old lit student within me found it interesting from a narrative point of view.  With my tweets I was trying to somehow continue a sense of story – only for an irregular word to be added further down the chain to really trip things up. I quickly realised though as with all crowd sourced content – the merit isn’t in how the message and story finishes, but in watching and participating in how it evolves.  Like Bowie’s best lyrics the chain was fragmented nonsense, but  by taking part in the process – listening to the whole band play, to continue the analogy – was where the fun could be had.

This obviously had some sort of artistic purpose, but when thinking about it within our brand focussed work it had a couple of learning’s for our own campaigns.  The first was a way of looking beyond the obvious “engage a community tactics”.  This game uses an existing community (the Fabrica Gallery’s followers – but equally of any brand) to build and create touch-points in other pools of influence in micro-communities – associated groups of people who are ultimately not related (my micro community of followers, and the followers of those I was messaging).

Recently we have been talking about the future of the press release and how companies can’t expect to fully own messages, only steer audiences in the right direction.  The game acted as an example of this – albeit with a heavily involved catalyst and moderator to steer the way.  It showed that if you give the community the right tools  they can play with the sentiment without totally destroying the message.  In today’s world, where brands are concerned, it should be about getting people involved, getting people to think, getting people to play.  It doesn’t have to be about repurposing the party line.

So who’s up for a game of “Broken Key Messages”?