What's the story behind Facebook Stories?

Facebook is undoubtedly the social media giant. It’s the place we go to see what friends, colleagues, lovers (past, present and future) and their dogs are doing.

Facebook is undoubtedly the social media giant. It’s the place we go to see what friends, colleagues, lovers (past, present and future) and their dogs are doing.

It’s also undeniably one of the most useful marketing tools available on the social spectrum today. But do the latest updates really intend to improve user experience or are they just inflating the ongoing battle with rivals, Snapchat?

Here's what you need to know.

In 2013, Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for £2.4 billion but were turned down. Quite the surprise for them considering they were able to acquire Instagram for under half the price the previous year. Awkward. ?

Snapchat was on a rocketing incline and planned to stick to it’s own home-grown success for as long as possible. With the introduction of geotagging, voice changers and animated filters, it felt as though it would soon be impossible to enter a social platform and not see dog-ear-selfies decorating everyone’s profile pictures! Facebook eventually turned its attention elsewhere and successfully acquired Whatsapp in 2014.

Fast forward to more recent events and what do we see?

Well, first the introduction of stories on Instagram. A clear imitation of their competitors Snapchat, but as an exclusively visual platform they managed to get away with it! And then we saw the introduction of stories hit Whatsapp, Facebook messenger and now finally Facebook itself. Now we’re not definitively saying Facebook’s trying to compete directly with Snapchat in order to wipe it out but, err, if the boot fits. And of course, we now also have the introduction of disappearing messages on Instagram. Did we really need them? Possibly not, but they’re not mandatory so easy enough to ignore if wished.

Facebook stories work just like Snapchat stories. You post a series of photos or videos intended to appear natural, unplanned and spur-of-the-moment, and they disappear 24 hours later. But is that why we use Facebook? As a platform, it’s essentially a database of events, photographs, details and interactions – disappearing content seems out of character. Not only that, but Facebook’s algorithms are constantly being updated to ensure we see things we consider relevant, whereas stories aren’t necessarily something we want or need to see. On top of which, it’s unlikely most people will post using the same feature on three different platforms; they’re liable just to choose their favourite. So, what’s the advantage of Facebook stories over Snapchat or Instagram?

Another point to consider with Facebook stories, as far as most users are concerned: they aren’t anonymous. That’s right, you can see who’s watched (or who’s currently watching) your story. Could be that weird friend who added you for you “great personality”, and he could be watching all your stories – shudder. Let’s be honest – we all have a little peek at people’s profiles from time to time, and we don’t want to be monitored. Facebook’s option of relative anonymity is comforting, when you just want a, let’s say, “browse” through people’s stuff without stopping to chat.

Our Top 5 tips/takeaways.

  1. 1. Stories are here, there and everywhere and they look like they’re here to stay. Don’t shy away from them – decide how best to use them to represent your product or brand
  2. 2. Be prepared to make a mistake or two. The idea of stories is that they are supposed to be authentic and live so not everything will have to look polished and clean cut
  3. 3. Show off your creative side. Utilise stories for teaser campaigns or to deliver special offers/flash sales or competitions
  4. 4. Differentiate your Stories from content on your main page. Show a behind the scenes peak at your company, team/staff shots or tease new products you’re working on
  5. 5. Use them to build your business. In essence, they are an extension or your social media platform, so use them to grow – Think “exposure”!

But, we still have lots of questions...

  • When will Stories be rolled our for brands via Business Manager on Facebook?
  • From a marketing perspective, would Facebook stories even be useful for social media marketing?
  • Is there a necessity to post stories on all three platforms?
  • Is this designed to build social media for both personal and professional use or have we somehow become the children caught in the midst a messy feud between Mum and Dad?

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