The main problem to be addressed was how BrightVibes could strengthen its impact among its target group through positive and inspiring stories. The underlying research questions examined the definition of positive communication, defining the goal and the target group in concrete terms, compiling a list of comparable initiatives with the accompanying communication media, and finding a suitable solution for BrightVibes.
Fear, negative communication, and conflicting messages in which hardly any solutions are presented are dominant items on the mainstream news. This can be the reason for a low level of engagement, uncertainty and apathy. Positive communication can counterbalance this.
There are several forms of journalism that focus on positive communication (such as constructive and solution-oriented journalism). Constructive communication with solutions contributes to engagement, positive change and empowerment. In this, an action-based perspective is important, with sufficient room for individual interpretation and significance.
The effect of positive communication can be strengthened through online communities engaged in collaboration and sharing information.
The goal and the target group of the communicated message
The general goal of the message is to engender a positive social impact as a contribution towards a more sustainable world. To achieve this, it is important to boost engagement, activate people, and contribute to community building.
Six initiatives were found, and compared to one other. SolutionsU (a website with a searchable database with positive news items), HetkanWEL (a website whose goal is to inspire people to adopt a greener, more honest, and more pleasant lifestyle), Good News Network (a website with positive news items), Green my place (a game in the category of serious gaming directed at promoting an efficient use of energy), WWF plastic waste app (an app directed at reducing your use of plastic), and Orb Media-PLUS PLASTIC (a multimedia story about micro plastics). The strengths and weaknesses of these initiatives were incorporated into the design phase.
Possible solution for BrightVibes
Multimedia stories were chosen as a communication medium, in which existing or new content can be used and messages about specific subjects are brought together in connection with one another and in a suitable context. Multimedia stories are potentially highly interactive, which can provide a substantial boost to commitment and engagement.
This also makes it possible to ‘archive’ messages and perform a query.
Based on the research conducted, seven frames were set up with various perspectives for the design of the ultimate solution. These were used as a source of inspiration, for consultation with BrightVibes, and for comparison with the target group's needs.
Ultimately, a frame was chosen in which the basic premise was that individual contributions to sustainability and the environment are not visible enough and are not sufficiently emulated. Based on this perspective, sharing solutions and activating and possibly stimulating people to collaborate with one another came out as an important factor.
User experience and a clear flow are very important in a multimedia story. The attention of the audience must be concentrated entirely on the story and the experience. Therefore, the design phase focused on visual design, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI). An attempt was made at reducing the amount of coding to a minimum and, because of this, use was made of a commercially available tool for digital storytelling (Shorthand). With regard to online community building, it was decided to link multimedia stories to a new, accompanying Facebook group.
Because sustainability and the environment is a very broad topic for only one multimedia story, a decision was made to make multiple stories about specific topics.
Recommendations for BrightVibes
1. Publish multiple multimedia stories.
2. Search for possibilities to obtain better support for community building.
3. Categorize and archive messages in multimedia stories and make them available on the BrightVibes website.
4. Expand the functionality of multimedia stories by upgrading to a Shorthand plan with more extensive possibilities (the integration of a customized html code, a customized branded theme for BrightVibes and story embedding in BrightVibes’ own domain).
5. Investigate how dynamic content can be created through improved interaction with the target group, support for community building, and providing the BrightVibes community with the opportunity of creating stories independently.
6. Investigate the possibility of applying BrightVibes multimedia stories for educational goals.
Tomorrow Times: stimulating support for the future of our planet by sharing succes stories and positive messages about sustainability, environment and a circular economy.