Facebook is testing a Snapchat Stories clone in its main app after a similar clone on Instagram helped spark a sharing increase on the platform.
The test, officially called Facebook Stories, could help invigorate original sharing (posts that are personal in nature) on Facebook at a time when the company is reportedly experiencing a decline in such activity. Since Facebook's News Feed is, to some extent, powered by original sharing, a dwindling of personal posts could hurt its quality. Facebook has embraced a number of new content formats to thwart the problem, including Stories and live video.
Snapchat Stories — photos and videos users string together that disappear after 24 hours — could prove to be a perfect solution to the problem. The format has been a rousing success inside the Facebook-owned Instagram, used by 150 million people each month, and credited for helping increase Instagram’s sharing level significantly. When Instagram executives discussed Stories’ results in an interview with Recode this week, they could hardly contain themselves. “In the last couple months, with ranked feed and Stories, people are sharing more now than ever on a per-person basis, and more people are sharing [in] total,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said. “We have more people sharing every single day than ever before.”
Now that Stories have proven themselves on Instagram, Facebook is bringing them into its main app as well. They’ll debut in Ireland with an eye toward extending them to other markets in the months ahead. "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," a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News via email. "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."
As Snap barrels towards a public offering anticipated to hit the markets in the first half of 2017, it will have to convince investors that it can hold its own against Facebook, a company that's copied its products and made them available to a larger user base, while wooing advertisers with better data.
For Facebook, cloning Snap’s Stories feature is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: undercut a rival with its own creation, and temper a potentially troubling decline in original sharing.