Say Hello to Stories on Facebook

Apr 02, 2017

For the first time in years, Facebook is poised to make a crucial comeback with teens and young adults. After Snapchat’s rise in popularity with younger users, Facebook felt the heat. They were no longer the networking site of choice for tweens and teens across the globe. Of course, youngsters still use Facebook, but there has been a marked movement to “cooler” places digitally. Instagram and Snapchat filled the “cool” shoes, with their focus on smaller circles of friends and increase of their “It Factor” with influencers and brands curating content.

Now, Facebook is ready to up the ante. Last week, they announced new features that rival (or completely copy) the popular Stories function, most attributed to Snapchat’s modus operandi. Users can now:

  • Share disappearing photos/videos in their Stories, which last for 24 hours

    24 Hours

    Image credit: Facebook 

  • Use the Facebook camera effects to share filtered/customized moments directly to your newsfeed or Stories

    FB cameraImage credit: Facebook 

  • Use the “Direct” feature to send disappearing photos, videos or replies to one or more selected friends

    Image credit: Facebook 

Taking a Page from Snapchat

If you’re already familiar with Snapchat, then you’ll easily see the similarities between Snapchat’s Stories and Facebook’s Stories. This is deliberate. Even mirroring the same goal and language when speaking about the products is on purpose, because Facebook understands the success Snapchat has seen with their features.

Connor Hayes, Product Manager at Facebook says, “We want to make it fast, fun and easy for people to share creative photos and videos with whomever they choose, for however long they choose — and the more we share with each other, the more open and connected our community can be.” During its Stories launch in 2013, Snap said, “[Snapchat Stories is] a totally new way to share your day with friends - or everyone. It’s fun and ephemeral, just like Snapchat…. [they] create a narrative.”

Facebook is trying to hold onto – and entice back – the large amount of youngsters who fled the platform in search of a new experience. With these added features to Facebook’s own portfolio, is there anything stopping them now?

Your story iconImage credit: Facebook 

Stories Overload

So just how many places do you need to share your “stories”? With Facebook Stories, Messenger Day, Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status and, of course, Snapchat all available with a stories functionality, when is enough enough?

The answer to this lies in the hands of the users. As long as people are actively engaging with any of the Stories features available, there will be updates made to copy and improve. Ultimately, people are looking for a way to communicate quicker and more simply. Stories is the new wave of communication, with only a few seconds separating a glimpse into someone’s daily life. It’s easy and fun to use, with more personality than a text, yet not as time-consuming as creating the perfect Instagram photo. Essentially, it’s shorthand for the digital native.

Snapchat’s response is to expand their own Stories format. Now, you can search curated Stories and even watch live coverage of sports games and cultural events. While this answers one of the longtime issues with Snapchat – the difficulty in discovering new friends & content – is it too little, too late?

Back to the Future

Facebook is arguably one of the major advertising spaces of our time. Whereas this is a far cry from its humble beginnings as a communication tool within universities, it has grown to almost 2 billion monthly active users worldwide. Who knows what the future holds, but if my years in social media have taught me anything, Facebook will seek to monetize this function in the future – something that Snapchat has yet to see success with. For parents, this could mean greater exposure to advertising and influence from marketers.

Despite youngsters preferring alternative networking sites, like Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook is predominately the platform of choice in terms of amount of users worldwide. Which means that kids may prefer another platform, but they ultimately still have a presence on Facebook.

Social media platform graph

Privacy Concerns for Kids

One of the biggest drawbacks of Stories is the lack of privacy surrounding them. For example, my Facebook contacts run the gamut of friends, coworkers, past teachers and bosses, professionals and family members. My Snapchat circle is much smaller and more controlled, with only close friends and family able to view my photos and videos. This is a prime example of why kids migrated in the first place from the all-reaching Facebook platform to smaller, niche sites – privacy.

Of course, we know there is no such thing as absolute privacy when we’re talking about anything online. In fact, now there are more places than ever to make a digital mistake. For kids, this could be costly for their future. College admission boards and prospective employers take digital footprints seriously – and even the appearance of impropriety or poor judgement could cost them a prized internship, job or spot at their ideal university.

Now that Facebook has joined the Stories game, parents and kids should tread carefully. The sheer number of people using Facebook each day is staggering and anyone in your friend list can view the stories you post. Pair this exposure with the trigger-happy impulsiveness of teens, and there is greater concern for what should and should not be posted.

Screen time remains the biggest question and concern for most parents. And while there are recommendations on how much screen time is too much, each family has their own needs. Consider using parental control software, which can be a helpful tool in managing screen time and monitoring your children’s social media usage.