Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature, and you’re definitely going to know right away if you have it – because it lives right at the top of your News Feed!
The network has been testing out a Stories feature for months, slowly rolling it out to more and more countries. It hasn’t gone wide in the US yet, but to users familiar with Snapchat or Instagram Stories, the way it works should be pretty familiar.
Just like on those other networks, Facebook’s Stories feature allows users to upload images and short videos that will disappear after 24 hours, and can be accessed right at the tippy-top of the News Feed:
This is one of those features that could be a pretty big deal.
How big, exactly?
Here’s a look at why Facebook Stories should be on your radar now – even if it isn’t in your News Feed just yet.
Instagram launched its own Stories feature in August 2016, and it only took about a month for it to fundamentally change how people use that app.
(Early statistics showed that browsing Stories was replacing skimming the Feed for many users, and may also have impacted engagement levels, too.)
As of early 2017, Instagram Stories has 150 million users every single day – that’s more than a third of their daily user base, and nearly as many daily users as Snapchat!
Not only that, but the booming popularity of Instagram Stories may have slowed down Snapchat’s growth. For the first three quarters of 2016, Snapchat averaged 15 million new users per quarter – after Instagram Stories launched, though, that number dropped to only 5 million.
They’re still growing, but not nearly as quickly as they were before Instagram – a network that was already more popular – added and improved upon one of their big features!
So – what does this all have to do with Facebook?
Potentially, a lot!
There are a lot of reasons Instagram’s Stories feature has become so popular, and chief among them is the fact that Instagram had way more daily users than Snapchat to begin with.
It meant not only more people to use the feature, but more incentive to do it, because the content you shared was likelier to be seen by more people.
This could easily end up being the case on Facebook, as well – especially because Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet, and by a big margin.
Here’s that same chart from above, but with Facebook added in:
Facebook has more than three times as many daily users as Instagram – and more than seven times as many as Snapchat!
That means that when they launch a new feature, it gets noticed – and it gets used.
Live broadcasting, for example, has consistently grown in popularity since it was introduced – not just because of Facebook’s massive size, but because of the robust upgrades and customization options it continues implementing.
Basically, Facebook has all the momentum it needs to launch new features like this, and they invest time and resources into making those features increasingly popular.
Facebook could also carry over Instagram Stories features like advertising.
On Instagram (which, friendly reminder, Facebook owns), you can buy advertising in Stories, so that users flipping through will also see one of yours.
Combine a feature like that with Facebook’s already-impressive audience management tools, and you’d be looking at what could be a seriously effective way of reaching new people!
The introduction of Stories is another way for Facebook to encourage live engagement.
Just like live video, Facebook Stories is a feature that requires your actual presence online – it isn’t something you can schedule ahead of time.
The more that Facebook introduces features like this, then, the more important it becomes to schedule ahead of time where you can!
Links and image posts can be written and scheduled whenever you want – and doing so ahead of time means you’ll have the time you need later for live activities like uploading Stories.
(Not everything you do can be automated – so why not automate what you can?)
The accounts people follow on Instagram aren’t necessarily the same ones they follow on Facebook – and vice versa – so it’s far too early to tell what exactly we can expect from Facebook Stories.
Plus, there’s a lot we just don’t know yet – like whether it will ultimately be available only to profiles, or also to Pages.
But as Facebook experiments with Stories around the world, we want to know: what do YOU think of this feature?
Is it a step in the right direction?
Does it make as much sense for Facebook as it does for Instagram or Snapchat?
Or is this one feature that Facebook should leave to other networks?
Let us know what you think in the comments below!