The latest trend to sweep Facebook is a new and innovative way for consumers to share their personal stories with friends. Avatar culture has been elevated to a new level: cartoon depictions of your life. Bitstrip is a new cartoon generator on Facebook that allows consumers to create personalized cartoon strips with tailored captions, scenes, and by including friends (Elfring, Comicvine). Bitstrip users can create an avatar that represents them as well as avatars to represent their friends. These cartoons are easily shared on Facebook and depict various storylines from the lives of Bitstrip users (Kurwa, NPR). For example, I will share a personal Bitstrip of mine.
As seen in the picture above, Bitstrips are completely customizable. Users can search a library of 1,000+ cartoons and customize them. One’s avatar is used. The avatars can be specifically tailored to look like the users. One can change everything from eye color to nose shape to clothing choice (Donna Hamer, Bitstrip Tutorial). The cartoon avatars can later be manipulated into different positions and customized text can be added as a thought bubble or as a caption (Elfring, Comicvine).
Above one can see an example of a Bitstrip with a friend. Taylor-Anne is a cat aficionado in the real world. She genuinely thinks that her friend, Deena, would be a great companion if she were a cat! She is able to share this interest with her Facebook friends by creating a comedic cartoon featuring her friend, Deena. This is a way of engaging the Bitstrip population and creating a story as a way of conveying friendship and a sense of humor. Similarly to storytelling in advertisements, Taylor is using a vehicle to create her own story.
Although Bitstrip was created in January of 2013, it is now becoming popular (De Hoyos, News92fm). Servers were not able to support the mass amount of new users for a few days, with over 5 million hits on Facebook alone. After introducing the mobile app, the app experienced crashes from such high volume visits.
What does this mean to Bitstrip users and how does this relate to Advertising? Bitstrip users offer a new, unique niche to tap into for consumers. This cartoon generator offers a new and exciting way for social network users to share their life stories with their friends. Similar to brand storytelling, consumers can use their personal avatars to express their moods and expand their experiences by including their friends. Because these cartoons are easily accessible to see on social media sites, they are spreading at a viral rate.
Bitstrips offer a unique way for consumers to participate in storytelling. In a way, they are advertising themselves to their friends by adding a multi-dimensional element tot their social network page. With statuses becoming more and more mundane, Bitstrips offer a more interesting platform for personal storytelling. While this application is merely a way for consumers to share their own personal stories, marketers and advertising companies could find a way to sponsor cartoon strip pictures. Because Bitstrips is a method of personal storytelling, advertisers could use this to their advantage by inserting products or services into the already customized cartoon strips. For example, a subtle product placement or the promotion of a certain brand in a cartoon would be an excellent way for an advertising company to reach their audience. Furthermore, an entire network of Facebook users, if shared, would view these cartoon strips. This would both increase brand exposure as well as awareness. This would allow the advertisements to seem natural and would introduce a new platform for reaching users. Because more and more people have become averse to reading traditional forms of advertisement on Facebook, Bitstrip cartoons that are funny yet promoting a product would be shared and enjoyed by social network fans worldwide.
Below is a link to a YouTube tutorial on how to create a Bitstrip. What story will you tell?