30 Second Storytelling: 5 ways to tell a Web Story


Web stories are a great way to supplement a publisher brand’s existing coverage and reporting with a modern visual storytelling medium that allows you to tell a compelling story in under 30 seconds. 

Here are five simple ways to do that if you’re just starting out with a cohesive Stories strategy. 

Step 1: Never bury the lede, lead with it! 

With shorter attention spans, it’s imperative that you grab the viewers’ attention the very second your video opens. Research suggests that 56% of most business videos are less than 2 minutes long, but the most effective in terms of storytelling and engagement are < 30 seconds long, roughly the duration of an elevator pitch. Instagram, for example, sees the highest engagement in terms of comments, views and likes for videos that are between 15 and 30 seconds long.  

Think of your short video strategy as an elevator pitch for the biggest stories you churn out from your publication each day or week. 

Step 2: Build high quality short videos to capture most attention 

Most importantly, always remember the cardinal rule of broadcasting applies here as well: Never Be Boring. Use short videos as an opportunity to amplify your most engaging news segments on the evening news or your most popular articles of the day, for example. 

Engagement is the name of the game. 

One of the biggest media brands, the Wall Street Journal periodically posts visual stories and the biggest highlights from its long-form stories on platforms like Snapchat; investigative reporting published in its news version. While staying on brand yet targeted towards the youth audience, that finds itself most on visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok.  

Step 3: Create tomorrow’s breaking news with humor, keep it short and snackable  

There is no harm in sticking to your core brand aesthetic like the Wall Street Journal does, but if you’re a more consumer media brand, like USA Today, you might want to create a “Daily Show” version of your news tailored better to social media’s core youth demographic. 

Even a serious brand, like Harvard Business Review, takes the job of adapting their research content albeit with some levity, to their presence on social media. The upside is that younger audiences, who might have been intimidated to experience their brand on their website, might take an interest if they receive HBR’s content on one of the leading social media platforms. They might view their content on Snapchat Discover and understand what makes HBR, the brand valuable, for them. 

Just the tappable-swipeable format alone, does a lot in making your content way more accessible to a demographic that has grown up on the iPhone and not a Macintosh, or reading the newspaper. 

Step 4: Create a formula, caption and repeat 

The power of every news and media outlet is your brand. Much like HBO’s opening synth or the CNN news chyron, think of this as an opportunity for your publication and brand to create your own formula using this brand new media format. 

Whether it’s adapting your media outlet’s most exciting local TV news, or using captions to tell a more effective story, your readers will come to expect that brand formula in the short video content you create. Every nuanced choice you make for your short video segments, will reiterate the overarching brand of your media strategy in subtle ways. 

Step 5: Above all, create a conversation and leave on a high note! 

Let’s not forget, News is all about engendering a conversation. 

Remember that news triggers interest, video is more engaging than text and short video is the most compelling format. So while you start with your lede, you need to make it snappy and unforgettable with your viewer compelled to engage with your call to action. An Instagram Story, for example, can lead your audience back to a news article on your website. 

If your conversation stops when your video stops, you should change the tone of your news vehicle to be open-ended and relevant to your audience. 


Yet again, we’ll be back with unique ways for publishers, creators and brands to embrace the constraints posed by 30 second storytelling on social media platforms like Snapchat Discover and Instagram Reels.  Bookmark this post, or sign up to our email newsletter to receive similar tips in your inbox.

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