Facebook is today rolling out Facebook Stories to all users.
Facebook Stories are short user-generated photo and video collections that can be viewed up to two times and disappear after 24 hours.
The story format, originated and made famous by Snapchat, has been on Facebook’s radar for some time, with the Menlo Park-based company first testing a Snapchat Stories clone within Messenger in September 2016.
Now, Facebook users can share stories within the main Facebook app.
The feature, known as Facebook Stories, is focused around Facebook’s in-app camera which allows users to overlay fun filters and Snapchat-like lenses to their content as well as add visual geolocation tags to their photos and videos. To access the camera, simply swipe right on Facebook’s mobile app.
This follows hotly on the heels of Instagram’s incredibly successful stories launch. Instagram Stories launched in August 2016 and now more than 150m people use Stories daily across the globe.
The Facebook Stories update is accompanied by a couple more new features. Facebook’s camera is now upgraded with dozens of Snapchat-like filters and effects, including six “masks” sponsored by Hollywood studios to promote upcoming film releases.
The third update, Direct, is a combination of Messenger and Snapchat which enables users to send short videos and images to friends that will disappear after a short time.
How Facebook Stories work
Similar to Instagram Stories, content shared to stories will appear at the top of the Facebook News Feed. To view a story, users simply tap a friends’ circle at the top of the app.
While viewing a story, users can also reply with a direct message.
How to add content to Facebook Stories
Step 1: Access the camera
To create a story on Facebook, you first need to access the camera. You can do this by swiping right on the Facebook mobile app.
Step 2: Create your content
Facebook users can share both photos and videos to stories. Once you have the camera open, you’ll be able to record your video or snap a quick photo. You’ll also notice a range of lenses and filters available to embellish your content.
To take a photo, tap on the button in the center of the screen and to record a video hold down this button.
Step 3: Share to your story
Once you’re happy with the post you’ve created, the next step is to share it to your story. To do this, tap on arrow icon in the center of the screen and then select ‘Your Story’ and tap on the send button in the bottom right of your screen. You can also send your post to selected friends via a direct message.
Once you’ve shared a post to your story, it will display for 24 hours and then be gone forever, just as Snapchat and Instagram Stories work. Videos and photos posted in a Facebook Story won’t show up in the News Feed or on a user’s timeline by default, but users can choose to share to the News Feed as well if they’d like to.
Countering the content collapse: Facebook Stories offer a way to encourage original content
The fuel that has fired Facebook’s extraordinary growth so far is user-generated content.
However, the sharing of original, user-generated content such as status’ and images declined 21% between mid-2015 and mid-2016. At the same time, sharing of news articles and other outside links increased, The Information, a tech news site, reported.
For Facebook, this seems to be a problem. Many of its users are no longer creating their own content, instead opting to share links and information from other websites. Internally at Facebook, Bloomberg reports this issue is known as “context collapse.”
It appears that the habit of sharing of personal content, such as images and videos, has shifted to smaller, more closed communities like Snapchat, instant messengers (like Whatsapp, Messenger) and Facebook-owned, Instagram.
Facebook Stories introduces the concept of 24-hour disappearing photos to a much wider audience than any other product to date. Over 1.7 billion people use Facebook’s mobile app each month, many of whom may not have come across story-style content before if they don’t use Snapchat or Instagram Stories.
From a content perspective, this seems to make sense for Facebook. When people open Facebook they expect to see photos and videos from their friends and connections. But with fewer users creating content and a rise in brands posting to Facebook and ads in the feed, many users feel they miss out on the type of posts that helped Facebook to take over the social media world.
Whether Facebook’s core users will adopt the feature remains to be seen. Though it’s a place for friends, Facebook appears to be much wider network than places like Instagram and Snapchat where users may be a little more selective with who they add and share content with.
A move towards camera-first communication
Combatting the context collapse seems to be an important challenge for Facebook. One way the company is approaching this challenge is through promoting camera-first communication.
Facebook’s main app is one of their last properties to adopt the stories format, which focuses on user-generated photo and video content. Messenger Day was launched with Messenger in March 2017, following hotly on the heels of February’s Whatsapp’s Status update and Instagram Stories rolled out in August 2016.
In a recent note focused on Messenger in 2017, David Marcus, Facebook’s Head of Messenger explained how the camera is beginning to replace the keyboard:
People expect the world to be so much more visual than it’s ever been before. Many of us now have powerful cameras in our pockets so when we rolled out our new camera at the end of 2016 we were reflecting this trend. We built a fast, feature-rich camera as a way for you to share visually everyday – whether it’s a video clip or quick selfie or a silly moment.
By popularizing visual, short-lived visual interactions on mobile, Snapchat started the ball rolling on the trend of camera-first communication and almost every platform is now following suit and prioritizing visual, in-the-moment content.
Whereas a few years back we may have sent an SMS or IM to our friends to share interesting and fun moments, many now default to our cameras to share this moment. Text now acts as a support to the more visual side of communication. Much like real life interactions, where our visuals and body language tell as much of a story as the words we’re saying.
Over to you
Have you tried Facebook Stories yet?
I’d love to hear what you think about this update. Will you share your day on Facebook? How will you manage stories across Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Whatsapp?
Let me know in the comments ?
This post was orginally published on March 15, 2017, and updated on March 27 to reflect the Facebook Stories feature being rolled out globally.