February 6th, 2017

The latest revelation from Facebook is that they are currently testing ‘Facebook Stories’ in Ireland. Facebook Stories – hang on, that sounds familiar. Deja vu or another unashamed attempt at plagiarising the poor chaps over at Snapchat?

Following the success of Instagram stories last year, Zuckerberg and his team of tech wizards have decided to test the stories feature on the mother of social networks. Interestingly, they already tested Facebook stories back in July 2016 but decided not to roll it out. Perhaps they suspected that Instagram would be better placed to facilitate the new feature. Given the success so far, Facebook have decided it is time to revisit the format and trump Snapchat once and for all. We don’t know Mark Zuckerberg personally but this does have a faint whiff of revenge after Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel refused an almost unrefusable offer of $3 million….wait that’s not right….$3 BILLION for the platform back in 2014.

 

How does it work

Unsurprisingly, Facebook Stories will work in exactly the same way as Instagram Stories (and therefore Snapchat Stories). Photos and videos with overlays of text and drawings, the ability to reply directly to a friend’s story with a direct message and an array of geofilters. Plus you can be safe in the knowledge that all will disappear after 24 hours. Facebook said in a statement:

“The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago — it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before. We want to make it fast and fun for people to share creative and expressive photos and videos with whoever they want, whenever they want.”

 

As with Instagram, the stories feature will sit at the top of the app and will therefore mean that they take visible priority over the news feed. This is a notable step towards the more informal and ephemeral type of content that Snapchat famously pioneered. A report issued by The Information last April indicated that Facebook users are sharing less personal updates than previously – Facebook Stories could be a way of combatting this decline by encouraging more informal, intimate content. Ultimately, the move demonstrates Facebook’s continued concern with the growth of Snapchat and a desire to encourage more instantaneous sharing using smartphones.

 

Advertising revenue and Snapchat

Currently 150 million people use Instagram Stories, which is approximately the same as Snapchat’s user base. Now that Facebook have jumped on the stories bandwagon, Snapchat are probably quaking in their boots. Despite all this plagiarism being very flattering to Snapchat, it could be very damaging, especially in terms of the advertising revenue they are able to take.

Inevitably, Facebook Stories will present another opportunity for Facebook to generate ad revenue. There is already too much competition for visibility of sponsored content in the news feed and Facebook are keen to make a conscious effort not to bombard users with ads. Including some of these in the stories feature could be a way of distributing the spread of sponsored content, therefore opening the door for more opportunities.

In other news

On another note, Instagram has announced that “live video on Instagram Stories – a new way to connect with your friends and followers right now – will be rolling out to [its] entire global community over the next week.” Undoubtedly linked to the popularity of Facebook live, it is no surprise that they are bringing this successful format to Instagram. It is likely that we will also see this feature integrated into the new Facebook Stories too, further emphasising the push towards instant and more personal content.

We also hear rumours that Whatsapp are testing a similar feature called ‘Status’. Given that Facebook acquired Whatsapp last year, it is no surprise that they are attempting to replicate the stories feature across all their platforms. We reckon they will wait to see the effects of their stories feature on Facebook before rolling out a Whatsapp version. Either way it seems that soon there will be no escaping an increasingly intimate look into the lives of our friends. Once Facebook Stories has been implemented on a global scale, people will be faced with the cumbersome task of sharing personal updates across three different platforms (four if Whatsapp join the party) – a big ask for even the most dedicated social media users. Inevitably, users will need to choose.

Who will win the battle of the stories?

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