Stories have taken the social world by storm. And as their popularity increases so does the number of channels that are using them.
This article will cover everything you need to know about the different story platforms, and how brands can integrate each.
As a marketer, you may be wondering how you can leverage your story across all of these channels.
Good news: you’re about to find out.
What Are Stories and Why Should I Use Them?
Stories are the latest growing trend in social media.
First introduced by Snapchat back in 2013, Stories let users put together images and videos in short segments, showcasing anything from their everyday lives. The unique format also means that each story is swipeable, and disappears after 24 hours.
It didn’t take long before other social media channels caught on, and soon the Story format had extended to Instagram, Facebook, and even Google.
Naturally, marketers soon caught on as well. And turns out, stories work for brands as well.
Part of the story format’s success lies in the way the information is delivered.
When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.
Stories combine both aspects and give publishers the leeway to:
- Create a fully immersive experience for readers through storytelling and flexible design
- Share and embed stories across sites and apps
- Access to mobile and desktop devices
- Free for anyone to try
- Tell complex, visual stories with minimal technical knowledge
- More easily catch user’s attention through visuals and keep them engaged
Before we move any further, let’s take a deeper look at each channel.
It all started with Snapchat.
In October 2013, Snapchat introduced its new story feature. Snapchat stories are a compilation of Snaps that a friend has posted to their Story over the last 24 hours.
Since its beginning, Snapchat proved a phenomenon. Gary Vaynerchuck explains:
“Snapchat closely resembles how we communicate face-to-face more than any other social network. When we talk to each other, passing in the halls or just living out our lives, those moments disappear. Snapchat emulates that behavior and psychology. Moments are temporary and that’s exactly the feeling and behavior that Snapchat matched to.”
Everything he mentions – from the real-life moments captured to their disappearing nature – is reflected in the story format.
The Snapchat phenomenon hasn’t slowed, and Snapchat’s daily video views have increased 400% year-on-year.
Where Snapchat really shines for marketers – and sets itself apart from the competition – is in its Discover feature, introduced in 2015.
Just recently, Snapchat opened up new marketing opportunities for brands by allowing advertisers to buy slots in Discover from Snap’s sales team that look like non-sponsored Story content from other publishers.
Promoted Stories are shown to all Snapchat users for now, though targeting options may become available.
While most channels’ story features are nearly identical to Snapchats, Snapchat does have one advantage – it’s use of filters.
Snapchat filters have proven extremely popular, and represent a valuable opportunity for businesses as well.
Snapchat Video Dimensions:
- Recommended dimension: 1080 x 1920
- Aspect ratio: 9:16
- Max file size: 32MB
- Accept video formats: .MP4 and .MOV
- Video length: between 3 and 10 seconds
- Young millennials ages 12 to 25 years old – a recent poll found that 63% of the demographic prefer Snapchat than Instagram
It didn’t take long for Instagram to capitalize on what Snapchat started.
In August 2016, Instagram unveiled its own stories feature. Within a year of its launch, Instagram Stories has accumulated 300 million daily active users.
This means that roughly 60% of Instagrams 400+ million daily active users are accessing Instagram Stories.
It wasn’t exactly welcome news for Snapchat, and Snapchat Stories view counts have declined 15-40% since the Instagram Stories launch
On the flip side, it proved a big win for Instagram – and businesses using the platform.
Of the stories created by these businesses, one in five organic stories received a direct message from a consumer. The high engagement is likely due to Instagram user’s willingness to follow businesses. In fact, 80% of Instagramers are following a business on the platform.
Instagram stories appear horizontally at the very top of user’s feeds and disappear after 24 hours, featuring a mix of photos and videos. Once a user clicks on a story, all videos play automatically one after the other, until the user closes the stores.
In 2017, Instagram made it easier for brands to take advantage of the feature with Instagram Stories Ads.
These play between user’s usual stories, making them hard to distinguish as ads.
Instagram Story Dimensions:
- Resolution: 1080×1920
- Aspect ratio: 9:16
- Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1920.
- Minimum resolution: 600 x 1067.
- Aspect ratio: 9:16.
- Max file size: 4GB.
- Recommended video formats are .MP4 and .MOV.
- Video length max: 15 seconds.
Instagram Target Audience:
- Mostly female, 18-34 year-olds
Next came Facebook stories.
Once again, this feature works almost identically to Snapchat and Instagram stories, allowing users to shoot short videos with the Facebook camera with a 24-hour shelf life.
Similar to Instagram, Facebook stories appear at the top of users news feeds. Once a story is tapped on, it expands to full screen.
In October 2017 Facebook tried to alter that by allowing business pages to post stories as well.
But Facebook stories never gained the same traction as Snapchat and Instagram.
Part of that can be attributed to the overall decline of user-generated content on the platform. Between mid-2015 and mid-2016, the sharing of user-generated content like status’ and images declined 21%, while the sharing of articles and links increased.
To combat that, Facebook has become more camera-focused, promoting videos and stories as a way to regain the lost connections brought by user’s own content.
Additionally, while stories could originally only be posted to either Instagram or Facebook, users and brands now have the option to post one story to both platforms.
Facebook Story Dimensions:
- Video Ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
- Recommended Resolution: Upload the highest resolution video available that meets file size and ratio limits
- Video File Size: 4GB Max
- Video Length Minimum: 1 second
Facebook Target Audience:
- 62% of online adults ages 65 and older now use Facebook
- 83% of female internet users use Facebook, versus 75% of male internet users
Google AMP Stories
Most recently, Google announced that stories would be coming to its popular AMP format.
AMP (accelerated mobile pages) have been extending beyond their initial articles for some time now, and due to the popularity of the story format, it’s no surprise they chose to venture there.
Google calls the new stories “a visual storytelling format for the open web…AMP Stories immerse readers in tappable, full-screen content.”
Now, when a user types a query into Google, they may see a visual story sitting at the top of their search results.
When an AMP story is clicked on, it will expand to full page, where users can click through the different images and videos. The last card in the story features a link to the website’s homepage and social media buttons to make sharing easy.
To read more about the technical requirements needed to build an AMP story, click here.
How to Create One Story For Multiple Channels
Here’s the thing about stories: as you’ve likely gathered, they’re essentially the same across all platforms.
They all work the same, appear the same, and feature the same aspect of brand messaging: storytelling.
That means one story can easily be repurposed to different channels, which is great news for brands – why not kill multiple birds with one story?
The first step is to identify your brand message and decide how you want to tell it.
So start big. To find your message, ask yourself:
- What’s the motivation behind your company?
- What are its overall goals?
- How does your brand or product help people?
- What sets you apart from the competition?
The answers to these questions will help you start to form your own story.
The next step in the process is to decide how you want to tell this story. Keep in mind, there’s never just one way to tell a story – and that’s a good thing.
Take Nike, for example. Their story is based upon their timeless slogan “Just Do It.” It’s all about rebelling, inspiring, and accomplishing. Anything is if possible – you just have to try.
It’s a message that resonates across ages and genders, and over its 30+ years run, Nike has found multiple ways to bring that story to life.
Nike’s very first commercial featured an older man running across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Flash forward to 2017, and their story is told through the eyes of Muslim female athletes and the viral video campaign “What will they say about you?”
Though the stars of the stories changed, the message has always stayed the same.
So as marketers, your job is to find your own stories. Who or what can relay your brand’s message? How many different ways can you tell it?
Remember, you can split your message into sub-messages and sub-categories, as long as it supports your brand’s overall story.
Once you’ve decided on a few creative directions, you’ll need to take each channel into account. Ask yourself:
- Which channels are most effective for you?
- Which channels are ideal for this specific story?
Not every story belongs on every channel, so it’s crucial to determine which is best-suited for each of your stories.
As you brainstorm your list of stories, try to come up with a few that will appeal across the board. Again, think of “Just Do It;” no matter what platform that’s published on, the message will resonate.
Sharing Your Story to Different Channels
Good news here: spreading your story across multiple social channels can be done with relative ease.
Let’s start with the easiest. As I mentioned above, a story uploaded to Instagram can now be shared to Facebook as well.
As you upload a story to Instagram, you’ll now see an option simultaneously share the story to Facebook. They’ll appear on Facebook as if you’d created them there, with the addition of a small “Instagram” label.
Snapchat stories can also be downloaded for use on other channels.
First, tap the ghost icon. Once it’s taken you to your profile page, tap the gear icon in the top right and select Memories from the list that appears. Under “Saving” click “save to” and choose one of the options:
- Memories: Save snaps to Memories.
- Memories & Camera Roll: Save snaps to both Memories and your phone.
- Camera Roll Only: Save snaps to your phone only and not to Memories
Now, you’ll be able to save all your Snapchat stories to easily upload to other channels.
The trickiest one here is Google AMP Stories. Because the feature is so new, it’s only available to a select number of publisher’s at this time.
Not only that, but the story creation process isn’t quite as straightforward. Rather than just a camera, to build an AMP you’ll need:
- A basic understanding of AMP’s core concepts (“Convert your HTML to AMP” tutorial)
- A browser of your choice
- A text editor of your choice
For more information on how to build your own AMP story, check out my guide here.
Tools to Create Stories
With the exception of Google AMP Stories, most story formats can be created using some very handy web tools.
Animoto is a tool that helps brands easily create videos and stories. The three-step process is straightforward:
- Choose a style and a song
- Add photos, video clips, and text
- Produce & share
Animoto offers a free 14-day trial, with plans starting at $8/month thereafter.
Fastory is another popular option when it comes to building stories. Using Fastory, brands can import any existing elements from Facebook and Instagram and use the tool’s drag and drop interface to create different combinations for their story. There are no technical skills needed, and brand can choose from Fastory’s library of themes, optimized for different business goals.
For information on Fastory pricing, contact their sales team.
- Story Slicer
Using Story Slicer, brands can cut a longer video into shorter segments to be used for stories. This is a great tool for any business that wants to transform a YouTube, webinar, commercial, etc. into a story format.
Storyheap is a little different. Rather than helping to create stories, it helps you schedule and manage them. Using Storyheap, you can upload and schedule stories to Snapchat and Instagram, as well as access Story Analytics, which tracks important metrics such as open rates, views, engagements, and more.
Storyheap prices start at $49/month, after a 7-day free trial.
Start Integrating Your Stories Today
As marketers, the appeal of the story format is obvious. It’s what customers want to see; and what customers want, marketers deliver.
As more channels begin to adopt the format, you’ll want to spread your brand message to as many channels as possible.
But more channels doesn’t have to mean more work.
With the right idea and tools, all it takes is one great story.