Yesterday, Facebook announced a new update that includes features like a new in-app camera, a new feed of ephemeral stories at the top of users’ News Feeds and a private messaging feature called “Direct.”
Since I previously lambasted Facebook’s Instagram for copying Snapchat with Stories, the feature has grown to reach 150 million daily users (source). By comparison, Snapchat has 100 million daily users (source). The quick popularity of Instagram Stories can be tied to the fact that it had an existing user base before launching ephemeral messaging, the ease-of-use of the feature and growing awareness of ephemeral messaging in general.
These same reasons will help propel Facebook’s Stories and it will be no surprise when Facebook announces staggering engagement statistics in a few weeks. However, like the launch of Instagram Stories, I have a few issues with this new feature.
Seriously, can we stop copying one another?
What’s most confusing to me about the launch of Facebook Stories is the direct competition with Facebook-owned platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, that also include ephemeral messaging components. By introducing Facebook Stories, the platform runs the risk of pulling engagement from its other apps.
As my colleague said this morning when Facebook announced this news, “Is any social network going to do anything original anymore? Or, are they just going to keep copying each other?” Good question.
Please don’t overwhelm me, Facebook.
If you read through the announcement blog from Facebook, it notes, “Our goal is for the camera to be a home to hundreds of dynamic and fun effects that give you new ways to connect with friends, family and your community.” Hundreds?!
With a cache of partnerships and resources, Facebook certainly has the power to introduce hundreds of filters, stickers and other editing tools to Stories. But, for a new feature that will likely be used by millions of people around the world it may better serve the platform if it doesn’t overwhelm users with too much stuff.
Where do I post my content?
Since the launch of Instagram Stories last year, researchers have noted a decline in active Snapchat users (source). While Snapchat’s own updates may have aided in this decline, it’s more likely that if deciding where to post, users are choosing Instagram Stories. With too many options of very similar features, users are going to post their content to the platform most easily accessible. With Facebook now offering Stories, Facebook could be the likely winner, even beating out Instagram.
With that being said, users pick-and-choose where to post content based on who they’re friends with on any particular platform. For the young adults whose parents are on Facebook, they’re likely not going to be sharing their night out on Facebook Stories. However, their appropriate-for-all-audiences pictures from dinner or vacation might spark a conflict of what social network to post on.
With that all being said, Facebook Stories has some unique features that I am excited about as a user and social media manager.
The guest art is pretty cool.
As mentioned, the influence of Facebook allows the platform to do some pretty cool things. This includes curating filters from artists like Douglas Coupland and Hattie Stewart. It’s incredible that social media can provide a new, engaging connection between visual artists and their audiences.
Major partnerships for unique filters.
For any animated or superhero movie geeks, Facebook’s masks that coordinate with upcoming movies will definitely get you excited to use Stories. Facebook has lined up branded filters for Alien: Covenant, Despicable Me 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Power Rangers, Smurfs: The Lost Village and Wonder Woman.
It’s a gateway for late-adopters.
For Facebook users that may have avoided downloading Snapchat or Instagram, this might get them in on the ephemeral messaging trend. Late adopters might foray into this kind of messaging if it’s accessible through a social channel they already trust, and that’s pretty cool.
1.15 billion daily mobile users is a lot.
As much as I might personally push back against the launch of Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories, it’s hard to deny the vast impact of Facebook. As brand or social media managers, you have to be familiar with the platforms that your audiences are using. With billions of people using Facebook, it’s safe to assume that a large percentage will be using Facebook Stories.
Get familiar with the new feature, which should have hit your iOS and Android phones yesterday, and let me know what you think!