Web Stories the new format for all sites, increase revenue and engagement

Stories the future of the web.

Another major tech company introduces “stories” to their mix of formats. Linkedin, the Facebook of the business world. It’s become a spot for humble bragging, shallow thinking, ego stroking – basically a professional version of Facebook. 

The story was first popularised by Snapchat, and the quickly “adopted” by Facebook (Instagram) and everyone else. Stories are thoughts and moments happening in the “now” – since stories disappear after 24 hours, it’s the perfect format for “you should quickly skim this”, on the other hand posts are moments you don’t want to forget.  

In the words LinkedIn’s former head of Content Products, on why they introduced stories.

“The sequencing of the Stories format is great for sharing key moments from work events, the full-screen narrative style makes it easy to share tips and tricks that help us work smarter, and the way Stories opens up new messaging threads makes it easier for someone to say, “and by the way… I noticed you know Linda, could you introduce me?”

Pete Davies

In theory it’s good idea, but how do users, the same users that are on Facebook and Instagram post something “professional” or do they post the exact same thing that they post on Instagram. This is a engagement move, in terms of how annoying this will be to users – another place to check for updates?

Are stories a good idea for websites?

In other news, Google, launched a new product officially. It’s been in beta since July, the “Web Stories” making it now possible to add a “Story” to basically most sites. Is this a good idea?

Users will use a feature/product that did not exist on the platform, so adoption won’t be a major issue as soon as majority gets in on it. But will it help engagement metrics like time spent on site, as the story is a well-known product, especially for mobile based sites, stories are an excellent way to get people engaged.

The sites that should incorporate stories are News sites. Traditional news sites face a massive engagement problem. I.e. users discovering stories off social/search and only reading that single story that they are interested in. Adding a format known for bite sized content pieces, and automatically moving to the next “story” is a great way to boost that engagement metric.

It’s also going to modernize how content heavy sites structure and add their content. A possible strategy is having pillar long form content with a ‘story’ on the top. Giving users the ability to skim through the article before perusing through the full post.

Web Stories as an Ad Format

From an ad product perspective, it’s brilliant. Another format that users know, it’s less annoying and intrusive as messaging ads. Social Media and Marketing folks will jump on leveraging those B2B Instagram story ads on LinkedIn.  

It will also boost revenue opportunities for publishers, i.e stories are great for video ads and demand a premium from advertisers, in addition to creating a huge stream of ad inventory. As a publisher those advantages of using web stories should make product teams reshape their roadmaps.

  1. Increased Engagement
  2. Decreased User Annoyance
  3. Smooth Ad Experience
  4. Increased Ad Revenue (News execs jumping out their chairs)

As a side note from the Ad Product masters, Facebook,

For performance marketers, stories ads can also inspire people to act. More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories. In addition, 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it, and 34% said they went to a store to look for it

Web Stories for User Experience

Google’s official blog puts it best

“Unlike the many slow, ad-plastered full-page slide shows on the web, this story is extremely accessible and pleasant to consume.”

This is true, many rich formats are annoying, data heavy and overall a bad user experience. But also, as mobile traffic overtakes Web/Desktop traffic, the story is great for interaction.

Users are well accustomed to two actions, scrolling and swiping. The story brings the swipe into majority of the sites, giving them an experience that is easy and quick to use. The interactivity of swiping up for the CTA is also great, more engagement.

Designing and Using Web Stories

The story unlocks features that publishers have wanted but never executed well or lacked the technical skills needed to implement the product. The first being polls, instead of annoying users into going to forms etc…

Photography/Visual showcasing, due to the popularity on Instagram, users expect a photo heavy “story” and the best use for stories is light text and heavy imagery. Facebook has a great rule for their ads, 20% text and 80% visuals. This is what performs best and it’s what users love.  

Google also has recommendations, which are always pretty good.

  • Title Page: 40 Characters
  • Text on each story page: 200 Characters
  • Story Length: 10-20 pages (but it could be any where between 10-30)
  • Video: Less than 15 seconds per page but could be up to 60 seconds (not recommended)

Web Stories by Google

Techoverlord Google, published their WordPress Plugin for Web Stories. Easy to setup, user friendly and responsive. Overall, a pleasant experience to use. Previously AMP Stories has now been renamed to web stories, making it a great addition to any site. Web Stories are the future thanks to main stream adoption by users.

Coming soon: a dedicated post on web stories only.

Final Thoughts

Twitter is a great place for expressing views and opinions. I had an interesting discussion with a former journalist on user experience on news sites. Very appropriate to this subject, and stories could be the future format that helps news publishers unlock engagement and revenue opportunities that are less intrusive.

In the end, it’s all about growing and engaging the user in the long-term. As product and marketing folks know, the engagement metric can make the difference between loyal vs. one-timers.  The more users you get down the funnel to become loyal users and promoters the better a business performs – this could not be truer for news organizations. Sometimes short-term objectives hinder the long term success.

In the words of Jeff Bezos

“What we’re really focused on is thinking long-term, putting the customer at the center of our universe and inventing”

That’s my thousand words on “stories”