October 3rd is not just the day Aaron Samuels asked Cady Heron what day it was; on October 3rd, 2013, Snapchat introduced Snapchat Stories, a feature that has taken over many of our lives. In my experience, Snap stories have made us a lot more transparent, they’ve created yet another way to creep on acquaintances we don’t talk to, they’ve given us exponentially more FOMO, they’ve been focal points of social gatherings and they’ve even dictated social plans (based on story-ability). Many of us have adopted the “if you didn’t story it, did it even happen?” mentality. However, this was not always the case. It took a little time for people to people to be fully comfortable sharing pictures and videos with all of their Snapchat friends.
A little less than 3 years later, on August 2, 2016, Instagram introduced Instagram stories as a way for people to post not just their curated Instagrams, but “everything in between, too.” Instagram differentiated itself from Snap stories by emphasizing the ability to “bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools”—more robust and creative than Snapchat’s options. Like Snapchat, my followers were hesitant to jump on board with Instagram stories. I personally initially thought it was really dumb that Instagram copied Snapchat like that. I think I even said that I would never use the feature. But like most of my followers, I now use it to post photos or videos that are better quality, more creative, and more thoughtful than my Snapchat stories. I’ve come to really appreciate this feature.
I have also seen the value of Instagram stories for businesses and celebrities. I have become a huge Chance the Rapper fan solely because he posts cute Instagram stories of his daughter. I saw those first before I started actually listening to his music. I have also seen a lot of value from Instagram stories for the very small business that I work for, Sh*t That I Knit. The CEO uses this Instagram feature to connect on a more personal level with customers and to push promotions. With Instagram being her main tool for social media and marketing, her daily activity on @shitthatiknit is effective in keeping the company top of mind and making people want to be her best friend—a proven successful branding method by itself.
Finally, just this year in March, Facebook hopped aboard the story train and introduced Facebook stories. The interesting part about this is that our Facebook friends have been aggregated over many more years than Instagram or Snapchat friends. Individuals have many more Facebook friends than followers on other social media platforms and as a result, Facebook stories seem a lot more public. Again, my Facebook friends were hesitant to start posting stories on Facebook, but this time, it never gained momentum. In fact, I can only remember watching one Facebook story ever.
This past Wednesday, however, Facebook announced that Instagram and Facebook users can now cross-post their Instagram post to Facebook. Facebook intends for this feature to “make it easier to share any moment with the people who matter to you,” but we all know it’s really just to get people using the story feature at all. Despite the lack of excitement around Facebook stories, Facebook refuses to leave the story space. Instead of retreating, Facebook is taking advantage of Instagram Stories’ “polished composer,” which creates higher quality content than what Facebook’s glitch camera can create.
Has Facebook started some kind of “story war”? Now that Instagram and Facebook stories are connected, will people start posting more stories on Instagram and fewer on Snapchat to reach more people in one post? Because of the convenience of sharing stories to Facebook at the same time as sharing stories on Instagram, I do think this feature will catch on and Facebook Stories will see more action. However, because these stories will reach so many more people, I don’t think that Instagram and Facebook can beat out the mindless storying that happens on Snapchat.
The story war may pan out differently for different demographics and markets. One major drawback of Facebook stories is that they do not allow businesses to post. I think it will be important for Facebook to realize how much value particularly small businesses like Sh*t That I Knit and theSkimm, gain from Instagram stories. Allowing these stories to appear on Facebook too would increase their reach and draw more attention to Facebook stories.
There is also a question of how long this story trend will last. Facebook apparently sees value in continuing to push its own story feature, but there is certainly potential for it to phase out like any social media trend. If a story war really does ensue, it will be interesting to see if Twitter gets involved as they are one of the only most popular social media platforms in the US that does not have a story feature.