What is an Experience Channel?

Having introduced the idea of an Experience Channel in a previous post, I thought I’d sketch out what I meant by it in a little more detail. So, a few more thoughts on what exactly I think an Experience Channel is:

Poly communication

In an Experience Channel, communication isn’t one way or two way, but multi-way. Anyone can talk with anyone, whenever they want to. Interaction opportunities are created from as many different kinds of media as possible. Coherence develops from a single theme or set of themes shared across multiple platforms, rather than from use of a single, central content platform.

Three degrees of channel engagement

There are three different ways of engaging with an Experience Channel; as a content creator, a poster or a lurker. Content creators create or add new content. Posters comment on existing material. Lurkers are an audience in the traditional sense; although they could interact if they wanted to, they choose to sit back and watch the Channel develop.

Web presence, not website

An Experience Channel’s front end isn’t really a particular website; it’s a page of search engine results. It does not use a single, exclusive site as a platform. It can be accessed through multiple portals, and exists on multiple sites. Everyone who engages with it is free to pick and choose from these different portals / sites, mixing up their own personal version of the experience Channel.

Evolution through interaction

Experience Channels are in a constant state of evolution. They develop through conversation between content creators and posters. Ideally, regular new content should constantly be triggering new bursts of conversation, to both inspire existing content creators / posters / lurkers, and bring in new ones. As much as possible, evolution should be open and unmoderated – it’s the community that creates and steers the channel, not one single channel owner.

Keeping it real

Experience Channels exist in the offline world too; they’re not just about virtual engagement. Formal and informal events bring together channel members to meet and engage with each other, and share relevant experiences. These experiences are then recorded / talked about online, providing a further basis for Experience Channel evolution.

That’s a very basic definition of a what an Experience Channel is; but why are they useful? What’s an Experience Channel for? Well, some thoughts on that –

Engagement

Experience Channels facilitate in-depth audience engagement with your brand, organisation, or even just your particular, personal obsession. They make it easier to reach relevant content by making it more pervasive, and they accommodate multiple browsing styles (the random Googler who just wants to check out a website, the committed Tweeter who wants ongoing updates on their iPhone, the blog poster who loves chatting with like minded people, etc).

Education

They make it easy to share rich information about your brand, organisation or whatever in a wide variety of formats. They also ensure that that information doesn’t just come from you; external Experience Channel Content Creators / Posters add to the liveliness and variety of the channel, in effect advocating on your behalf. Lurkers might even help bring new eyes in. They won’t be taking part in the conversation, but they could well be forwarding links to their own online networks.

Conversation

Constructive conversation is always a good thing. At their best, a fully functioning Experience Channel allows you to support and become a member of a group of committed, creative people who share your obsessions, and are willing to constructively engage with them on an ongoing basis. At a more basic level, they give people who want to talk and share information about your brand / organisation / obsessions the tools to do so.

So, that’s the initial Experience Channel definition. I’ve touched on one below – the Red Bull Experience – but in my next post, I’m going to dig up some more practical examples.

There’s one EC I’m definitely going to include in there; the one built around everyone’s favourite meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov. VCCP have done a superb job there – more on exactly why I think it’s so good when I get a moment to sit down and write about it!

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