Most people will be familiar with the stories format. They are vertical, full-screen videos or images that sit apart from your regular feed; usually at the top of the app or page. After 24 hours the stories disappear unless the platform allows you to separate them for later viewing, like Instagram with their ‘highlights’ functionality. Check out our complete guide to social stories for a deep understanding of how each social platform uses the feature.
Snapchat originally introduced the world to the stories concept in 2013 with their ‘Our Story’ – a way of their users posting ‘snaps’ that were only visible for 24 hours, which became a huge hit with Snapchat users. It wasn’t long before other platforms recognised this and stories have been steadily rolling out on almost every social platform ever since. It was only inevitable that Google would have its turn. But as you will learn, Google have taken the format to a whole new level…
What are Google Web Stories?
Google Web Stories are a web-based version of the popular story format. The stories are discoverable through Google Search and the Google App, which can be downloaded via iOS and Android. You can also embed them into your own web pages.
The key difference between regular social media stories and Google Web Stories is that your stories and the content within them are owned and hosted by you (the creator), rather than the social media platform they are being published on. Google want you to think of them as “another distinct publishing format on the web and are more open than the wall of their social counterparts.” As these stories are open-source, nobody can dictate what content you can create and share.
Just like regular stories, they can be monetised through ads. However as the stories are yours and are being hosted on your server, they make you money. Not social media giants.
What are the benefits of using Web Stories?
Google Web Stories being open-source undoubtedly comes with numerous benefits that social media stories don’t have to offer. They allow you flexibility and freedom to be creative. They’re a visual medium, so you can really get creative and think about what it is that your audience wants to see.
Google Web Stories also give you a creative way of reaching new audiences through digital marketing. As a part of the open web, the content can be shared and embedded across multiple websites and apps. Used creatively they offer an endless opportunity for you to reach more audiences than ever before.
You can also track and measure your Google Web Stories’ performance with deep insights, due to the formats compatibility with website analytics.
How do you create Web Stories?
Google Web Stories are powered by Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) but have been designed to be as easy as possible to create.There is a varied range of approaches that you can take to creating Google Web Stories, allowing you to choose the option that works best for your business and resources.
3rd Party Web Stories Authoring Tools
CMS Web Stories Plugins
Google have made a WordPress plugin available for users wanting to create web stories content for WordPress. Their Web Stories Editor brings together a robust set of story creation capabilities in a user-friendly, WYSIWYG creation tool. It is under active development and boasts a visually rich, intuitive dashboard, allowing you to easily navigate the story creation process.
Custom Coding Web Stories
If you are looking to build a story with custom functionality, you can develop your own using Google’s detailed guide to the Web Stories format. The guide includes tutorials for those just starting out as well as step by step development and learning for those keen to master everything about the format.
Top tips for creating impactful Google Web Stories
Like social media stories, Google Web Stories are a visual experience and so it’s important that the way you communicate your message is visually appealing to the user.
- Plan your story – what message do you want to communicate with your consumers? How will this be developed over the multiple slides? Does it have a clear beginning, middle and end? What do you want the user to think and feel during the experience? Considering some or all of these angles can really help improve the end result before you start building.
- Make text clear – as stories are so visual, it is important that any text is easy to read and that there is sufficient contrast between busy backgrounds.
- Use engaging videos and imagery, and ensure that it is portrait (for mobile) and sized correctly at a 9:16 ratio.
- Vary your text sizes – so that it is easy to read and avoid using large chunks of text.
- Add links and CTA’s – Google Web Stories have a lot of customisation options when it comes to adding links back to your website, CTA’s and ads. Make use of them!
- Add captions – many social media platforms encourage you to caption your videos so that they are still legible to those who are watching without sound. The Web Stories format now supports VTT caption files and you can now incorporate these using the WordPress Web Stories plugin.
- Test your story – run it through the Google Web Story tool to ensure it is valid to be shown.