7 online Story formats your audience wants from you.

Most publishers only believe there’s one way to create and share Stories. This is wrong. There are actually quite a lot of configurations that you can use to achieve your goal.

Here are 7 ways you can structure your Story to engage your with audience. Let’s dive in.

Classic Stories

That’s what it all started with: a sequence of events, captured on camera and commented with text.

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This format is what you see most on social media. It’s in use since the launch of Snapchat Stories. As a standalone content format, it fits most publishers’ needs.

Configure the Story as follows:

  • Create an eye catching “Landing Page”. Online, you do judge the book by its cover. So make this your most important page. Design it to draw your audience deeper into the Story. Get them tapping…

  • Add as many “Story Pages” as you need to explain your subject. The format is called “Stories” for a reason. This means that you have to create a plot. The sequence will either be chronological or causal, so follow through on what you chose. Build drama and climax and don’t be afraid to put in a pivotal change. Keep in mind that this is a visual medium: show, don’t tell! Mic’s design guidelines even imposes a hard 160 character limit per page.

  • Don’t forget your “Call to Action Page”. This can include all relevant hyperlinks and/or share buttons.

These types of stories lend themselves to most content. From eyelashes to how your brain reacts to music. Two examples of classic Stories by Mic, one chronological and the other causal.

Story Series

More content than what you can put in one Story?

Keep the creative juices flowing and latch a new story onto the preceding one. Think of Story Series as making your own “Big Bang Theory”.

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There’s no hard-and-fast rulebook on how to create these. Each Story should be relevant to the greater narrative that you want to achieve. This applies both for fiction as for non-fiction.

It’s your job to make each edition build on the story arch that you want to create.

Story series keep your audience engaged over a longer period of time. And are pretty addictive, actually.

How addictive? Find out for yourself on Snap Originals.

Catalogue Stories

If you thought that Stories aren’t functional, think again.

Every one of the story pages is a preview or a lead for the more in-depth content that it links into. Think of it as trailers for upcoming series. These stories are dynamic. They evolve over time as the catalogue is updated with new products.

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The main function of catalogue stories is to remove browsing. They get users to their preferred content in the shortest possible way.

Each of the pages has a cross-media Call to Action to its publisher’s own environment. This may include a paywall.

Do you need a landing page? You can. Most catalogue Stories dive straight in with a very strong opening story page.

Image that you are building a catalogue for longreads. Think of the effect of this text by Edna Buchanan over an Edward Hopper visual:

“The man she loved slapped her face. Furious, she says she told him never, ever to do that again. ‘What are you going to do, kill me?’ he asked, and handed her a gun. ‘Here, kill me,’ he challenged. She did.”

That’s a hell of lead! 208 pretty dramatic characters. The click through rate will go through the roof.

RAWG is a great example of how to use catalogue stories to avoid browsing. But this format is used by many more companies. We wrote about it here

Briefing Stories

Briefing Stories are like catalogue Stories but typically consist of news headlines.

Contrary to catalogue stories, briefing Stories are static. They do not change over time. A Story that consists of headlines reflects the publisher’s content at that moment. It’s the publisher’s edition at that particular moment in time.

And it will be accessible for as long as the story remains online.

We haven’t found landing pages for briefing stories. Again, publishers prefer to kick off with their strongest headline page. Paywalls are a current feature.

The Daily Mail’s Snapchat Stories are a perfect example.

Hybrid Stories

Does your product need more explaining? Do your readers need more introduction to the subjects? A Hybrid Story configuration takes care of this problem.

Just stitch several standalone Classic Stories together into a Briefing or Catalogue Story format. For you to decide how long each of these classic Stories will be.

Vice France does so superbly. In 3 to 5 pages, they lead the viewer deep into the story. They follow through with a Call To Action to swipe up and see the all the content.

Live Stories

The Classic Story format has a plot that has been created and carefully crafted by the publisher. Live Stories do not have a plot. They keep evolving. Like live reporting, you keep on adding pages to your Story as your subject develops or evolves.

The Classic Story is built around a plot that is carefully crafted by the publisher. Live Stories do not have a plot. They keep evolving. As the publisher, you are the spectator and commentator. But never the creator.

Your role is limited to decide what action merits a page. And to decide in what format you want to report: photo, video, text, …

Like live reporting, you keep on adding pages to your Story as it unfolds in real time.

Cover breaking news in this format, adding page after page as things happen on the ground. Or add 15 second video pages of highlights as the soccer game progresses.

It’s the quickest and most active of the Story formats. It’s also the least common.


Ad Destination Stories

Do you agree that the transition from online ads into the ad destination URL is often painful? Because you are yanked from engaging visuals into a static and classical ad webpage. Where absolutely nothing is happening.

Imagine that the ad destination URL would be an immersive Web Story. With contextual information and matching Calls To Action. Viewers go from one Story environment into another one on your own property. All smooth and engaging.

Story pages that double as ad destinations should include the following:

  • A pointed landing page

  • Pages that explore the promoted product in depth

  • A Call to Action on every single page

  • Visually engaging asset, be it a short video or high-quality image

You already paid heaps for your ad clicks. Now make sure that they convert into purchases.

Unsure of what format you should use? Just get in touch with us and let’s have a chat. Reach out to me at [email protected]

About us

NXT helps you build, host and distribute engaging mobile-first stories on your terms, not Facebook’s. Get your team together and start building captivating stories with the NXT storybuilder software. No code needed. Find out more on tryNXT.com.

Henri-Jérôme Pauwels