As online readers become more exposed to marketing techniques on the Internet, it has become increasingly important for websites to engage audiences in new ways. For my Emerging Media class this week, I spent some time experimenting with a “multimedia storytelling” tool called Meograph that was designed to engage readers online. The tool allows any user to easily create multimedia pieces. Many sites including NBA and PBS have even used the tool to drive competitions based around content readers create using the tool. Readers can combine their own video, photos and audio or pull elements from online to create short multimedia response pieces that react to competitions or stories.
I personally used Meograph to create an audio slideshow. For my Convergence Reporting class I used a tool called Soundslides to put together photos and audio I took of a local store called Valhalla’s Gate. I have used Soundslides before, and I don’t mind the program. The interface is ideal for creating audio slideshows. It easily allows the user to drag, drop and time out photos and audio. However, the free version of the Soundslides program doesn’t provide you with any sort of publishable link to your work. I spent quite a bit of time on the project, and I wanted to be able to share my photos and audio, so I decided to try Meograph. Here are a few of my thoughts on the tool:
- Social media ease- Meograph allows any finished product to be easily shared on almost any social network. This is especially nice for a journalist looking to share a simple project (in my case). The tool also seems to be mobile friendly which is always a plus.
- Live chat help- I used the “need help” function on Meograph’s site twice while making the project. I was surprised to find that the help came in the form of a real life person and not an FAQ menu. I later realized that the CEO of Meograph was actually the person chatting with me. The chat feature was extremely convenient and made the tool feel more personal.
- Potential for audience engagement- As I said earlier, I only used Meograph for a simple project. However, a number of websites have used the tool as a way to invite readers to create multimedia pieces. Instead of posting comments or even photos, users can use Meograph to engage with a website. The tool invites an audience to engage in new ways.
- Small glitches: Through out my project I experienced several small issues that Meograph may still be working to resolve. I first found that my photos were displaying in the tool for longer than I wanted even though I set the display time for the photos myself. After chatting on the help tool, I learned that photos are automatically set to display for three seconds, but this information was not made clear. I also noticed that viewing the project during editing at any point other than the beginning often caused the playback to jump over photos. Finally, I was a bit disappointed with the fluidity of the program. It was a bit challenging to drag my photos and audio exactly where I wanted. The program took me a bit of extra time overall to drag around everything where I wanted it. The final project also felt a bit jumpy between photo transitions.
- Embed code issue- This may be an issue exclusively related to a small group of users, but my free WordPress blog does not allow me to use the iFrame embed code that Meograph generates.
- Lack of instruction- Given that this tool was designed primarily for users new to multimedia, I think it would be helpful if the tool had either a more detailed written manual or video instructions explaining how to use the tool in more depth. I struggled a few times through the creation process, and had to use the chat function for help. If the tool has a chance of further expanding to a broader audience, it will need to be made either slightly more intuitive or it will need to provide more in-depth instructions.