READ MORE: Welcome to the Story Economy (Storyhunter)
We can agree we’re living in a “creator economy,” but that is just part of far wider, richer and more profound “story economy,” according to Jaron Gilinsky, founder and CEO of Storyhunter.
“The story economy is the aggregate of media and entertainment revenue, social media ad revenue, digital video ad revenue, influencer marketing revenue, and digital audio ad revenue,” he explains.
There are stats to back this up. For example, the average internet user engages with more stories every day now than any other product or service — by a lot. According to Hootsuite, the average internet user between the ages of 16 and 64 will this year spend three hours a day watching video, nearly 2.5 hours on social media, two hours reading, and nearly two hours listening to audio and podcasts. That totals to 9.5 hours interacting with stories every day.
When people talk about the “creator economy,” says Gilinsky, they’re referring to independent creators who make a living through influencer marketing or subscriptions. These creators represent $13 billion in revenue, per Statistica.
Yet the dominant sector of the Story Economy is still media and entertainment, both legacy and digital, which Gilinsky calculates is worth $1 trillion in revenue.
Digital video enjoyed 20.6% year-over-year growth, reaching $26.2 billion in 2020, according to a report by IAB then $39.5 billion in 2021. That year was a breakout for digital audio revenues too. Buoyed by the popularity of podcasts, it had the highest growth rate of any media format, growing more than 57% from the prior year, reaching $4.9 billion.
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Storytelling is the fundamental driver of success in business, media, journalism, film, photography, print, advertising, marketing, design, politics, and the creative arts.
Gilinsky goes on to argue that storytelling as a discipline is at the heart of pretty much everything else from social engagement to religious and economic activity. While our need as humans to tell each other stories in order to communicate, bond and survive is not new, Gilinsky says what’s changed is that the production and distribution of stories has become democratized — and incentivized, which has led to unprecedented scale and reach.
“Unlike commodities like coffee, grain, or steel, stories are an infinite resource. And because they are now digital rather than physical, we are no longer limited by the geography of a specific cave wall that only gets seen by one family or clan: One person or organization’s social media wall can be seen by billions of people.”
The cultural impact a creator has is already surpassing that of traditional media, but there’s still a stark imbalance of power between proprietary platforms and the creators who use them. Discover what it takes to stay ahead of the game with these fresh insights hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives:
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Storytelling, he claims, is “the first super commodity.”
The problem is that humans have not evolved to see so many potential stories gushing out of Netflix, TikTok and every social media channel.
“This is why you need to separate yourself, and help your audience find the signal amidst the noise,” he says.
For any business to survive in the Story Economy, Gilinsky says the first thing to immediately recognize is that regardless of what business you think you are in, you are actually in the story business.
Your product or service matters too of course, but this is only half the battle. What’s required to succeed is a total transformation of your business into a storytelling-first operation.”
“The Story Economy is already massive from a revenue and user perspective. YouTube is only 17 years old. TikTok is six years old. For digital storytelling, this is like Hollywood in the 1950s. There is a ton of growth ahead.”— Jaron Gilinsky, Storyhunter
This message is not for the marketing team alone. This is a company-wide transformation.
“The CEO should help find the company’s voice. The customer success or community team should surface stories from the community. The marketing team should seek out creative partners and agile workforce platforms. The HR and operations teams should be ready re-structure the org chart and freelance hiring processes to suit the ‘always on’ hiring needs of the company. A total transformation is required.”
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As we’re about to enter the metaverse, where storytelling will take on a whole new dimension, this call to action couldn’t be more on point.
“The Story Economy is already massive from a revenue and user perspective. YouTube is only 17 years old. TikTok is six years old. For digital storytelling, this is like Hollywood in the 1950s. There is a ton of growth ahead.”