SocialSamba launches social TV platform for fan fiction

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

Remember SocialSamba? We uncovered the San Francisco/Minneapolis-based scripted social networking startup back in November after we wanted to learn more about the technology behind USA Network’s Hashtag Killer platform for Psych. The “standard” we predicted the company would help create is coming true.

MTV President Stephen Friedman told us about a new initiative for their hit “Teen Wolf,” which was then presented at their upfront. We caught up with Founder and CEO Aaron Williams who confirmed that they are powering this initiative, called “Teen Wolf: The Hunt.” SocialSamba has also quietly launched a consumer-facing storytelling platform called “SagaWriter.”

The new tool feels a bit like Storify in functionality, but it has a different mission to unleash a way to create a story with the social web. The Sagas are intended to create interactive stories that have elements to watch and also participate. One Zombies story I came across started off by inviting me to interact and tell the first character that I was there, followed by the story:

Lost Remote: Why did you launch the new consumer facing product?

Aaron Williams: One, very selfish – I want more people using our platform, the more people that touch it the better. Each deal has only 5 or 6 people touching the platform at once. Second, when we went to raise funding, it looked like we were an agency. I wanted to prove we were a platform and one way to do that is make it available to anyone. Third, I believe that there are so many stories in that long tail that we can turn this into the YouTube for social story telling. I believe there is real potential for hockey stick growth.

LR: How will this make TV more social?

Williams: Within our tool you can’t use copyrighted material. We follow the same DMCA rules that everyone else does. We see TV shows and other storytellers have interest in creating fan fiction. The WB adding Big Lebowski characters to Xtranormal, the fact that they are taking steps like this was a good thing to point to for us. It means its good for the brand. For us we see that wave coming, brands or storytellers can skin to look like their brand and embed in whatever platform they use to reach out to fans.

We white label all of our experiences, that we give the brand owner the opportunity. We’ll start to see more storytellers take advantage of that. We have sixty stories that have been created with just word of mouth. They read on average two stories when they come. Our average time per visit is just over five minutes. 12% of the fans that come to read a story, come to write a story.

I’m looking for the first YouTube [type] sensation and then pour tons of marketing behind that sensation.

There’s definitely potential here when it comes to fans creating their own fun fiction around their favorite shows but also for networks to create simple scripted social stories. One day TV networks might have budgets to hire social TV teams as big as their main writing teams, but for now a show like The Walking Dead could easily make a Saga where you get to talk to your favorite character while trying to avoid getting eaten. The company hasn’t promoted Saga at all yet (we’re the first to write about it) so it’s definitely early days that seem to have a hopeful future.