Facebook rolled out a new key feature, Facebook Stories, on Tuesday. The new tool allows you to post photos and videos that can be seen both at the top of the mobile app and an individual’s News Feed.
But many say they’ve already seen this before… twice.
Not only does Facebook’s new feature mimic features recently launched by a company they own, Instagram, but it is also nearly identical to their biggest competitor Snapchat.
This launch comes right after Snapchat went public, which stands as a reminder of that time Facebook failed to purchase Snapchat, allegedly for three billion dollars.
These new Facebook Stories offer both individuals and brands the chance to indulge in social media trends of short-form video and photo sharing on a platform with a user base as large as Facebook.
Learning from the popularity of Instagram’s disappearing posts, Facebook Stories will remain at the top of a user’s main page for 24 hours for followers to see.
Facebook also stands to gain a large amount of advertising revenue from the move, through both sponsored filters and promoted Stories.
The company already announced partnerships with six upcoming movies, including “Alien: Covenant,” “Despicable Me 3,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Despite the fact that this new feature is nearly identical to Instagram’s recent addition and Snapchat’s core platform, it is possible that news outlets and companies could benefit a lot from this new feature. Instead of flocking to new apps to use Stories features and chase down their audiences, these Stories will now be seen by their existing Facebook followings.
As of Q4 in 2016, Facebook had an active user base of 1.86 billion individuals, Instagram had 600 million active users, and Snapchat only had 161 million active users by the end of 2016 (even though it is quickly growing). Facebook’s larger audience gives advertisers a more diverse market to work with where many already have large followings on their profiles.
This stark difference in number of users creates new opportunities for companies and news outlets to connect with a much larger market using similar content sharing tools.
Thus, for the first time, many of these outlets will have a convenient way to deliver breaking, short-form video without the potential pitfalls of developing a new audience on a different platform (such as Snapchat).
Benjamin Freed, a staff writer for Washingtonian, said in an interview with MediaFile that it is “highly probable” that news outlets will leverage the new technology considering “how much everybody’s digital traffic depends on Facebook.”
“Facebook is a fast-moving medium,” said Freed, predicting that outlets could utilize this new feature to incorporate more news content into their Facebook activity.
“If Facebook’s implementation of the stories format in their main app takes off,” said Vox Media brand marketer Zach Kahn in an interview with MediaFile, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them expand the product to create an opportunity for brands to run their creative adjacent to people and publisher’s stories, further driving visibility, engagement, and loyalty.”
This new feature that will both create more opportunities for brands to connect to the market and create revenue opportunities for Facebook comes after the company announced last year that it would be focusing on catering to friends and families using the platform over companies and publishers.
“Stories have proven to be a compelling narrative format for people and brands alike,” said Kahn.
Facebook has been traditionally focused on a comment and liking format for content sharing, but their recent developments including the updated Messenger app.
“We’ve been very text-centric in the past,” said Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager, in an interview with Engadget. “But what we’ve been seeing is that the way people create content is changing, from text to photos and videos. […] We’re trying to upgrade the app to be more centered around the way people are behaving and creating the content in social apps. And that starts with the camera.”
It’s too early to say whether Facebook Stories is a success, according Kahn.
“I am concerned that the prevalence of stories across apps will engender a bit of fatigue,” said Kahn. “I’m already starting to feel this, and so I’d personally encourage Facebook to focus on fleshing out the stories format in contexts where it makes the most sense, like Instagram.”
While it remains to be seen whether Facebook will stay with the Stories format, the new feature expands the breadth of formats in which users, advertisers, and publishers can post.