The Relationship Between Transmedia Storytelling and Semiotics

Transmedia Storytelling refers to different pieces of content that are shared through several media platforms; each of these pieces is a story, but all the parts combined form a storyworld (Jenkins, 2006). Therefore, from a perspective of semiotics, Transmedia Storytelling can be considered a supersystem formed by many sign systems; the supersystem is the storyworld and each of the sign systems (story, experience, platforms, audience, business model) is a component of the story; in addition, each of those systems is composed by subsystems (Gambarato, 2012).

Carlos Scolari holds the view that Transmedia Storytelling is a narrative structure that expands through different media platforms using different types of languages such as text, images or symbols. It also expands through different forms of meaning, such as verbal and symbols and also different forms of media, which allows the story to extend and differ from the traditional approach of developing one single storyline on several platforms.

In Transmedia Storytelling, consumers can seek for information in each media platform to make their own connections (Jenkins, 2006) and give the story continuity and meaning. In stories that involve multiple platforms a dynamic cycle occurs when users interpret the semiotic signs that are being given to them through different media, thus generating a meaning from them. These must be used carefully in a Transmedia Storytelling setting considering that “we interpret the presented visual content differently because we align its meaning with that of the presented content of the accompanying text” (Lemke, 2011, p.577). Therefore, semiotics is the part of TS that links the meaning of the elements it contains.


My Research: Transmedia Storytelling. Creating Online Brand Engagement through the use of Semiotics in Multiplatform Stories.

Transmedia storytelling (TS) is a narrative structure that involves the development of a story through different platforms by using diverse types of languages, such as: text, images or symbols.In a time where consumers can search for information to make their own connections, the nature of TS can allow users to experience content and ultimately generate engagement with the audience or consumer. 

During my research I identified that there is a relationship among engagement and the use of semiotics in a TS strategy, so I developed the following relationship model to explain it:



The elements of the triangular “relationship model” are considered important pillars for the creation of a TS strategy; and I believe that having an understanding of these elements can lead to a deeper understanding of Transmedia Storytelling, and as a result, the creation of successful Transmedia strategies. 

The Elements of Transmedia Storytelling Explained

Henry Jenkins identified several elements that are part of the fundamental structure of a TS strategy; although originally presented as pairs of elements, these were separated to provide a clear overview and definition for each of them:

a) Spreadability: defined as “the capacity of the public to engage actively in the circulation of media content through social networks and…expand its economic value and cultural worth” (Jenkins, 2009a) this concept stresses the need for content to be shared and emphasises that the story is only enhanced when the recipient interacts with it.

b) Drillability: according to Jenkins (2009a), it is the factor that causes engagement and persuades the user to dig deeper into the story and continue participating with it.

c) Continuity: the audience needs to perceive that TS has a logical development across different platforms; this means that one character should behave the same way in different media maintaining the consistency of the story (Jenkins, 2009a; Scolari, 2013a).

d) Multiplicity: this concept is applied when a story expands or originates far from the original core of the story, such as fan fiction, and becomes an alternate or complementing version of the original (Jenkins, 2009a; Scolari 2013a).

e) Immersion: described as “the ability of consumers to enter into fictional worlds” as if they could look inside a different reality (Jenkins, 2009b).

f) Extrability: this concept, in contrast with immersion, indicates that the consumer can take elements of the story which could be applied to common life situations (Jenkins, 2009b). To exemplify this principle, Scolari (2013a) brings forward the case of Duff beer, which was developed inside The Simpsons show and commercialized later on, making it available for the public.

g) Worldbuilding: TS builds a larger scenario for the story to be set in; from the small details such as characters’ traits that help the story seem more realistic, to links (events or places) that connect stories together (Jenkins, 2009b). Janet Murray (cited in Jenkins, 2009b) brought forward the concept of “encyclopaedic” impulse, which can be interpreted as the interest the audience experiences to learn more about the worlds created by the stories.

h) Seriality: Jenkins (2009b) suggests that in TS the pieces of information are spread across different media, instead of the traditional linear sequence that stories used to follow. These pieces must create meaning and complete a whole story, although the sequence can often be unclear to the consumer; Jenkins (2009b), emphasises that more research is needed to comprehend if the audience can truly make sense of a story with the parts in any order.

i) Subjectivity: refers to parts of TS that focus on aspects of the original plot that have not been explored before, or secondary characters whose stories are developed to gain the interest of consumers (Jenkins, 2009b).

j) Performance: audience participation is essential to a TS strategy (Jenkins, 2009b); consumers who become fans will aid in sharing the content and often add new elements to the story themselves (Scolari, 2013a), therefore, enriching the experience as a whole.


To learn more about this you can read the following:

Scolari, C. (2013a). Narrativas Transmedia: Cuando todos los medios cuentan. Barcelona: Deusto.

Jenkins, H. (2009a). The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, Two Actually. Five More on Friday). [online]. The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Available from: [Accessed 28 May 2013].

Jenkins, H. (2009b). Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: The Remaining Four Principles of Transmedia Storytelling. [online]. The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins. Available from: [Accessed 28 May 2013].

Your Own Interactive Biography

Looking for original ways to create a new resume, an easy online website or just looking to improve your personal branding?

There is a powerful site that can help you create an interactive biography, it is perfect as a new way to show you skills or as an addition to your resume.

The website is called Vizify and it allows you to connect different accounts in order to obtain your information and create a fantastic visual image of your online presence, and it is very easy to do!

First, it will ask you to connect the social networks that you wish to include in your page:


Then, it will show you what your biography page will look like and there is an EDIT button where you can move and arrange every part:



After you check that all the content you want is appearing on the page, you can look at every section and arrange the content there too.



Personalize your biography, change colors and add new sections:



Then, you are ready to share your biography on your social networks! Take your personalized URL and paste it on Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, it is that simple! 

Enjoy! and don’t forget to share your bio URL on the comments below.

Here is mine:





Wastelander Panda, A Transmedia Story

A new transmedia story has arrived and it has people all over the world talking and hoping for more!

It is the story about the last remaining mutant panda and a human girl in a post-apocalyptic era, the new online series is called Wastelander Panda.

Due to the success of its trailer published online (watch here), the creators have so far elaborated three episodes, but they are using crowd-funding methods to be able to make more episodes.

This transmedia storytelling project currently has presence on the Wastelander Panda Website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vimeo and YouTube (Epic Films, 2013) and it is starting to develop an immersive story world by providing background on the characters and the wasteland; an interactive map of the wasteland is also available on the website (



When Fans Become Advocates

We live in a connected world, and it only takes a few seconds to share with everyone in your network something you really liked, whether it is through a facebook like, a share or another action on social media that will show your friends your devotion to this product or place.

With that said, it is also important to consider that we have become more restrictive about the type of content we share. We only share/like/post content that we want to be associated with and brands need to consider this when planning their marketing strategy.

Lets take as an example a well know brand such as Toms shoes. Toms donates 1 pair of shoes to a child in need in the poorest countries whenever someone purchases a pair. The concepts that consumers associate with these brand are altruism, charity, awareness, etc. If these concepts agree with the image i want to portray to my friends i am more likely to share their content, eventually purchase their products and become a loyal customer for years to come.

But before going as far as the purchase, lets focus on the stage of “sharing their content”, whenever I share a video or a photo that the brand has posted on their social networks I am exponentially growing their possible customer base, however this does not mean they will all run out and buy a pair of shoes. But, if the content that the brand shares has continuity, it agrees with the image i want to portray and encourages me to share it, then i will continue to do so through time and the brand would have gained an advocate.

An advocate is much more poweful than a simple share or a like, it is someone who will continue to publicize your brand and even take the brand influence offline. An advocate is a true believer in the brand values and the product attached to them and will encourage those in his close network to become customers of your brand too.

So, brands…do you really value your advocates enough?