Storytelling has evolved through three stages: storytelling 1.0, storytelling 2.0, and storytelling 3.0. Discover what storytelling 3.0 means, and find out what its characteristics are.

What is storytelling 3.0: the evolution of the art of storytelling

A few years ago, marketing gurus were assuring us that storytelling was dead.

In their opinion, the art of narration gave way to concepts such as “story-making” and “story-living”.

Those alternatives allegedly replaced the storytelling.

However, the leadership storytelling expert, Steve Danning, doesn’t agree with this point of view.

On the contrary, he considers that storytelling isn’t dead.

It has just evolved.

The evolution of narration took place through the following three stages: storytelling 1.0, storytelling 2.0, and storytelling 3.0.

In this post, I’ll write about that evolution, and focus on the characteristics of each of the three stages.

Besides that, I’ll discuss the relation between the three stages of storytelling and communication 1.0, communication 2.0, and communication 3.0.

Would you like to know more about these topics?

Let’s dive into them!

Storytelling as Toto | The Marketing of Oz

As you read this post, you might start looking for the Marketing of Oz. If so, Toto from the film “The Wizard of Oz” will be accompanying you during the search to help you find it. Discover what the Marketing of Oz is and read all the posts that belong to the category “Storytelling”.

What is storytelling 1.0: once upon a time

Storytelling 1.0 is the first stage in the evolution of storytelling.

At this stage, the goal of narrative is to convey a message or a moral.

Speaking of the storytelling 1.0, the effect that the message may leave on listeners, viewers or readers isn’t in the spotlight.

In the beginning, it was simple. The story begins: “Once upon a time…” or equivalent, and we are off, traveling on the wings of the narrative imagination. It’s a story, without a care in the world or any thought as to where it might lead or what consequences might follow.

Leadership Storytelling 3.0: From Arithmetic to Calculus, Steve Denning, Forbes

Storytelling 1.0 and communication 1.0

Communication 1.0 is unidirectional, so is storytelling 1.0.

The following two factors characterise the storytelling 1.0:

  • Narrator – A subject who tells the story;
  • Audience – Subjects who listen to the story.

Both narrators as the audience assume their roles and can’t — neither want to — change these roles for the another one.

The storytelling 1.0 channels: Books, radio, press, traditional television, early websites, etc.

An example of storytelling 1.0: Narratives with closed endings

Excellent examples of storytelling 1.0 are traditional children tales.

Those tales usually begin with “Once upon a time” and end with “And they lived happily ever after”.

Moreover, the goal of storytelling 1.0 is to teach lessons and instil values to the youngest ones.

To meet that goal, adults tell stories, while children listen to them.

More information: I’m providing you with A LINK in case you’re interested in reading more about storytelling 1.0.

What is storytelling 2.0: twice upon a time

Storytelling 2.0 is the second stage in the evolution of storytelling.

At this stages, storytellers focus both on the goals and the effects of their narrative.

In short, they understand the narrative mechanics and make conscious use of stories.

In the second generation of storytelling, narrative consciousness awakens, and there is an explicit recognition of the potential effects of storytelling as well as the beginnings of an explicit understanding of mechanics of narrative.

Leadership Storytelling 3.0: From Arithmetic to Calculus, Steve Denning, Forbes

Storytellers also recognise the need to turn to different types of stories, depending on the context, timing, and the audience’s needs.

One of those types is a springboard story, whose purpose is to help an audience achieve a higher level of understanding and action.

Storytelling 2.0 and communication 2.0

Communication 2.0 is bi-directional.

Storytelling 2.0 might also be bi-directional, depending on the goals our narrative should meet.

Speaking of its characteristics, the most important characteristic of storytelling 2.0 is replacing monologue with dialogue.

For example, before telling a brand’s story, a storyteller should ask customers to describe their experience with the brand.

In other words, both sides should converse, explain, and listen to each other.

Not only does the story matter, but also customers’ experiences.

The storytelling 2.0 channels: All channels that work according to so-called “walkie talkie” model of communication (telephone, social networks, and websites with comment sections).

An example of storytelling 2.0: Narratives with changed or open endings

Unlike traditional children tales, which feature monologues and closed endings, storytelling 2.0 is much more similar to narratives with:

  • Changed endings – The authors of the Spanish book series “Twice Upon a Time” decided to rewrite some of the traditional children tales. Due to what they considered poor attitudes, teachings, and morals, the authors replaced the messages in the tales. Nevertheless, their endings remained closed.
  • Open endings – Instead of ending their stories with the famous “And they lived happily ever after”, some authors prefer to allow their readers to create different endings by themselves (“And they lived…”).

More information: I’m providing you with TWO LINKS in case you’re interested in reading more about storytelling 2.0.

What is storytelling 3.0: three times upon a time

Storytelling 3.0 is the third stage in the evolution of the art of storytelling.

At this stage, the focus is on interaction with the public as well as content adaptation.

In this third generation of leadership storytelling, with the shift in vocabulary to NPS, user stories, story points, planning poker and team velocity, we are a long way away from the innocent world of “Once upon a time…”

Leadership Storytelling 3.0: From Arithmetic to Calculus, Steve Denning, Forbes

There are three pillars of storytelling 3.0:

  • A particular story type – (for instance, User Story);
  • New methodology – Story Points and Planning Poker;
  • Tools 3.0 – (for example, Value Stream Mapping).

Storytelling 3.0 and communication 3.0

Communication 3.0 is interactive and based on adaptable messages. 

Depending on how the audience reacts to the first message, a communicator adapts the following ones.

Storytelling 3.0 is also interactive. 

In the first place, storytellers analyse the information they obtain through dialogue with clients or customers. Then, they use it in order to make the audience participate in the creation of the brand narrative.

The storytelling 3.0 channels: Email marketing automation tools have undeniable potential when it comes to storytelling 3.0. 

An example of storytelling 3.0: Narratives with multiple endings

Traditional children tales usually have closed endings.

On the other hand, in the case of reinvented children tales, their endings are either changed or open.

However, when it comes to storytelling 3.0, the audience itself chooses whether the ending of the narrative will be open or closed.

  • Choose your own adventure – This series of tales for children empower young readers to make decisions about the way in which the leading characters act. That way, the readers modify the story flow.
  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – Because of its interactive nature, this film represents another great example of storytelling 3.0. The film has multiple endings, and challenges the concept of a passive viewer.

More information: I’m providing you with THREE LINKS in case you’re interested in reading more about storytelling 3.0.

Storytelling isn’t dead

To finish the post, I would like to point out that, instead of claiming that storytelling is dead, we should better ask ourselves if it has (really) died.

Personally, I agree with Steve Danning’s point of view and share his negative answer to this question.

Storytelling isn’t dead.

It has evolved.

  • Speaking of storytelling 1.0, it’s unidirectional, with closed endings. It starts with a “Once upon a time” and ends with a “And they lived happily ever after”.
  • On the other hand, storytelling 2.0 is bi-directional, with both changed and open endings. It starts with a “Twice upon a time” and ends with a “And they lived…”.
  • In the end, storytelling 3.0 is interactive and has multiple endings. It starts with a “Three times upon a time” and ends the way the audience decides.

A Writing-Friendly Question: What is, in your opinion, storytelling 3.0?

My name is Stasa Durdic, and I work as a content writer and copywriter. If you would like to know more about me, please read my story or visit my LinkedIn profile. On the other hand, in case you want to get in touch with me, I’ll be happy to offer you my help with content writing and copywriting.

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Categories: Storytelling

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