“Facebook has been trying to copy Snapchat for so long it has become a kind of running gag in tech circles,” Matthew Ingram wrote in a August 2016 article for Forbes.
As far back as 2013, Facebook was trying to buy Snapchat, offering the social media competitor $3 billion at the time. When that failed, Facebook settled for developing its own features similar to some of Snapchat’s most popular ones, like stories that disappear without any record after a 24-hour period.
Facebook first launched its version of stories in August of last year on Instagram, which Facebook purchased for $1 billion in 2012. Then earlier this week, Facebook launched a similar feature on its instant messaging platform, Business Insiderreported.
Facebook is bringing Snapchat-like Stories to its main mobile app https://t.co/vfm5Yo1CZp
— The Verge (@verge) January 29, 2017
“Facebook Stories works identically to Instagram Stories, and by extension Snapchat Stories. You add photos and videos to your personal ‘story’ for your friends to tap through, and everything you choose to share disappears after 24 hours,” Ingram explains. “Whatever you add to your Facebook Story won’t be shown in the News Feed or on your profile’s timeline, and like Instagram and Snapchat, you can reply directly to someone’s story with a direct message. You can also add selfie filters and Facebook’s version of Snapchat geofilters to photos and videos.”
The move reflects not only the competitive tension between Snapchat and Facebook but also the changing nature of social media.
“The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago — it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before,” Facebook said in a statement quoted by Business Insider. “We want to make it fast and fun for people to share creative and expressive photos and videos with whoever they want, whenever they want.”
Facebook will be giving the feature a key placement at the top of its mobile app, and according to Ingram, the move is intended not only to cut into Snapchat’s market but to also encourage people to use Facebook more when taking videos and photos.
The move is definitely going to make Snapchat uneasy, as over 150 million people are already using the Instagram Stories feature.
Zuckerberg is ruthless. watch the video at the bottom of this story, carbon copy —
FACEBOOK STORIES — https://t.co/KghHbXhdO8
— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) January 25, 2017
CNBC reported that Facebook Stories could also be a means of addressing concerns the company has over the diminishing number of personal posts and a potential decline in ad loads in users’ news feeds.
“Firstly, a report in The Information last April suggested that users are posting fewer personal updates. Stories could be a way to keep people engaged with the main Facebook News Feed,” Arjun Kharpal writes for CNBC. “Secondly, Facebook warned in November that ad load in the News Feed – the number of ads shown – could come down ‘meaningfully’ in 2017 because the social networking giant doesn’t want to overload users with ads.”
Facebook has as much as acknowledged that they will be looking at using Facebook Stories as a new source for ad streams.
“One of Facebook’s big initiatives within its own apps and third party is promotion of native advertising, ads that fit in with the look and feel of the app,” Jack Kent, senior mobile analyst at IHS Markit, told CNBC. “Stories can be viewed as part of that.”
Kharpal noted that Facebook is currently testing ads in messenger in a few foreign markets.
The Facebook Stories feature is currently available only in Ireland, but a spokesperson told Business Insider they hope to offer it in other countries in coming months.
[Featured Image by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]