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Award Ceremonies Move on From Bad Comedians to Streams of Stories

24/07/2013 12:10 BST | Updated 22/09/2013 10:12 BST

For football fans of a certain age who were brought up believing FA Cup Final day to be the height of human existence, it wasn't just about the game, it was about the 'build-up'.

This began shortly after waking up. The radio, the (fixed-line) phone calls, the acquisition of the day's newspapers and then the TV coverage that started in mid-morning were all part of the build-up to the spectacle of the match.

Rather like the FA Cup Final itself, there have been many changes to this process. Fixed-line phone calls and (even) newspapers have been replaced by mobile calls, text messaging and the ubiquity of social media.

Nowadays the BBC tries to emulate this on its web site by its unimaginative Live stream of commentary and the occasional tweet, but it's not quite the same. Watching the game at home has also been usurped by the option of watching it in the pub, but the build-up is still an interesting and engaging culture.

The same can be said for award ceremonies. The Oscars are the epitome of the build-up, and also the build-down. The chat, the TV shows, the red carpet and the event itself with a world-famous funny guy or gal doing the introductions. Then it's the pictures of the frocks and the after-show parties; all give a multi-layered edge to these particular proceedings.

The model of the Oscars percolates through many strata of award ceremonies all the way down to the nights out that all industries allow themselves. The comedians are not the type to present in Hollywood and many of them can't even tell a joke properly, but for many years that has been the model.

Audiences pay a lot for a table, the comedian gets drunk, nobody cares and most companies that sponsor the event receive a reward. In recent years, however, the event has become more of a spectacle that reaches beyond the physical space of the ceremony.

Enlightened event organisers would present a Twitter Wall to the side of the sponsors' lanyards enabling people at the awards to grab hold of a hashtag and then see their name in Twitter lights as the night reached its crescendo, as well as be a social counterfoil to the bad jokes going on at the lectern.

After the inadequacies of Awards Ceremony 1.0, this was a welcome evolution to Award Ceremony 1.5, but that progress is being further enhanced by the next stage where the build-up is involved in the spectacle itself; in the same way as football fans enjoyed the FA Cup Final.

StoryStream is the company and platform that is behind this trend and was recently the event platform for the Econsultancy/NMA The Digitals awards, which celebrated the best of digital marketing and ecommerce.

By using the StoryStream platform attendees had been posted images, videos, links and Vines for hours before the event had begun. The product allows for fan and user engagement and 'amplifies' the stories around live events and also campaigns by a stream of stories creating a storybook of the event.

The 800-strong audience at The Digitals are a discerning bunch and (along with very good comedian Dara O'Briain) at a posh do at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London's Park Lane this was the perfect place to display StoryStream's product. If it works here, it works anywhere... and it appeared to do just that.

"Our events always generate a good amount of buzz, and in the case of this year's The Digitals almost 3,000 pieces of user generated content were created - tweets, photos, videos, that kind of thing. The challenge is to do something with this kind of content, rather than letting it fade into the ether.

"This tool allowed us to aggregate, curate and display a variety of content on a big screen during the night of the awards, as well as on the event website, and the 'yearbook' we created via StoryStream will be really helpful for next year's event marketing," said Ashley Friedlein, CEO Econsultancy.

StoryStream was formed in the summer of 2012, but has already snapped up some marque brands. In the past 12 months it has been the event engagement platform for the Goodwood Revival and earlier this month did the same for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Its other clients include Porsche, Getty Images and Michelin and was also used as the platform for the recent Cannes Lions and the communication platform for the simultaneous premiere across 200 movie theatres of Shane Meadows' recent Stone Roses movie.

"Our mission is to help brands create fan engagement and amplify their stories around campaigns and live events. Brands can no longer think in terms of simply broadcasting messages one-way and to succeed must create two-way conversation at the right time, in the right place," said Alex Vaidya, Founder of StoryStream.

By the nature of its high-end clients, such a storytelling platform would appear to have a big future and the build-up of its business may be as important as the FA Cup Final used to be for football supporters.

Come to think of it, perhaps StoryStream should take over the live stream of text and tweets that the BBC runs on its website. It could certainly do with the help.