How 9 companies—other than Snapchat and Instagram—are redefining the Story format.

Learn from the best on how to use Stories for your business.

Stories have changed the way people consume information.

Why?

Because life moves fast. We want our content to be short and sweet. Instantly available when required.

A Story is the perfect format for busy consumers.

And Stories are vertical. Just like our mobile phones. No need to turn your phone to landscape mode. You can watch Stories while you’re walking, riding the train, or killing time standing in line.

You do so at your own pace.

Snapchat was the trailblazer for stories. But Facebook jumped on board, offering stories to their Instagram users in 2016. Facebook / Messenger Stories and WhatsApp Status followed in 2017. We wrote about this in a previous blogpost.

More companies are embracing the story format every day. Here are a few big names that prove the format fits more than social media.

Google

When you search for a well-known person in Google, you'll mostly get Google's 'Knowledge Graph' as the first result on your mobile.

The Knowledge Graph collates all facts to create interconnected search results. All very interesting, but also pretty boring. Especially on a smartphone.

So what if you were to present this information in a Story format? That's what Google did.

Search for Ariana Grande and you'll find a Story of 8 pages. Each with its strong full-bleed image, a short burst of text and a link to the original article.

With Google Stories, search results are presented in a narrative. Finally making a Google search an engaging and entertaining experience.

In the US at least. Users in other parts of the world please be patient.

Airbnb

Booking your accommodation through Airbnb? You'll find Airbnb's offer of 'Experiences' listed in 'your trip'. In a story format with superb full-bleed images.

Tap on the image to get the highlights of the experience. Swipe up to get the full details, reservation calendar and reviews of past users. Swipe to go from one screen to another. Finding and booking interesting things to do in the area where you are staying is done in a matter of minutes.

Enjoyed your trip with Airbnb? Share your videos and photos with everyone on the platform. How? By putting them in an Airbnb Story. Swipe down and you will see on a map where the event took place. Pretty handy and informative.

Airbnb deploys Stories to pull customers deeper into their brand. With editorial and user-generated content. To keep users engaged, increase their time on-site and help them spend more.

Netflix

Netflix makes its living from stories in the form of movies. It’s no surprise that they’ve launched a Story feature on their mobile-only platform this summer.

In the iOS Netflix app you find a series of circular thumbnails that instantly launch a 30-second trailer of their series and movies. Tapping, swiping or waiting takes you to the next trailer.

All trailers play vertically in full bleed, so users don’t have to flip their phones or expand their screens. There is a button to get more info. If you like the trailer, you can choose to watch the movie immediately or add it to your watchlist.

What's it for? To draw users into the Netflix content catalogue. Cameron Johnson is the company's Director of Product Innovation. He says that Stories "help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly".

YouTube

YouTube announced the launch of Reels to their creators at the end of 2017 as their take on the Story format. It is still in beta at the moment, and there seems to be confusion about how it is going to be called in the end.

What is Reels? It is a series of 30 second videos with typical overlays or stickers that are put together in a Story format. They are designed with YouTube Creators in mind. They do not expire and link to YouTube videos.

More to be discovered after its launch.


Skype

Skype claims that their Skype Highlights is part of a long-planned and carefully developed update of their platform. The first major revamp since they introduced video sharing in 2006.

According to Skype, the objective is to enhance their users’ real set of social connections, their personal network.

Highlights are very close to SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook Stories. They last a week and are broadcast only to your followers. Or to individuals or groups that you hand-pick, turning it into a tools to grow your followers.

A business product? Yes, but only if you are in the business of connecting people. Like Skype.

Medium

Medium Series allows you to fill up the dreaded blank space with text and images in the format of a Story. Users get tired of reading endless text on a smartphone screen. So Medium turned to the Story format as a mobile-native way to create and consume content.

Writers can make their Story unfold over time. They build up tension and expectations by creating and adding new episodes to their Series. Readers can jump in where they left off any time. And they get push notifications every time a new installment is added to the series.

"We wanted to build that continuity, and the update loop, right into the product" says Katie Zhu, Medium’s Product Manager.

Medium Series in not rich in features, but tilting your phone to see the whole picture is pretty cool.

Product Hunt

Sip News Summaries are Product Hunt's newsflashes.

Smartly, Product Hunt released Sip as an app to "get important industry news on your phone, no distractions". You get the articles in the ideal format for your smartphone. And you are updated with the latest news in just a few taps.

Product Hunt's editors curate content from various sources and add their own take to the news. They invite readers to leave comments on every screen. Reader engagement is further enhanced through polls every now and then.

It's hard to be more efficient than this.

RAWG

What about using Stories as a way to browse your catalogue?

That's exactly what RAWG is doing. Go to RAWG.io and your landing page is... a Story.

Every Story—they call it "Collection"— is a selection of games curated to answer a user’s question. Every tap leads you to a 17 second video excerpt of a single game that contains a link to the full length video.

You find circular thumbnail on the bottom of your screen. They lead to other curated stories. RAWG call it ’TLDR’: Too Long; Didn’t Read. Very appropriate.

Co-founder Alexey Gornostaev explains TLDR in a blogpost as follows. “It’s a large amount of games compilations, curated and structured in a manner when they aim to answer significant questions. {…} you’ll usually spend less than a minute to get first impressions on every game in that collection.”

The objective? Again quoting Alexey is to create “the shortest route from want to have”

Achieved with superb efficiency. Kudos.

Twitter

Twitter uses Stories as a format for curated content in their Twitter Moments.

Smart curation puts different tweets of a single topic or event together into a Story. Pages may contain text or tweets, videos, images or GIFs. If Twitter—to me at least—feels terribly cluttered, Twitter Moments feel incredibly composed.

This Story format makes tweets contextual, relevant and evolutive. When Twitter editors add the next worthwhile piece of content to the Moment, you're up to date again.

While you swipe up and down through tweets, you swipe from side to side through Moments. Extremely intuitive and cleverly designed.

Twitter Moments puts information fragments in context over time.

Isn't this the very definition of a story?

What's in it for you?

Take notice of the way consumers respond to social media Stories and see this as an opportunity, not a threat.

Just look at how Netflix, Product Hunt, Airbnb and RAWG did this.

The Story format reduces time spent browsing, a tedious job on any mobile. Users get to the information that they are looking for fast. Because you have curated your content for them in advance.

Content that is created of short and precise copy and high quality visuals that fill the screen. Vertical, as a perfect match for smartphones, their device of choice.

Executed well, the result is increased engagement and higher conversion. Or, as Alexey from RAWG puts it: "the shortest route from want to have."

Isn't that what we are all looking for in business?

Stories may be a format that suits your business. Not sure how to get started? Reach out to me: [email protected]

ABOUT US

NXT helps you build, host and distribute engaging mobile-first stories on your terms, not Facebook's. You and your team can immediately start creating captivating Stories with the NXT storybuilder, no code needed. Find out more on tryNXT.com or join the early access list


Henri-Jérôme Pauwels