Facebook is soon going to begin testing ‘Story Highlights’. The platform confirmed the same to Techcrunch saying
“People have told us they want a way to highlight and save the Stories that matter most to them. We’ll soon start testing highlights on Facebook – a way to choose Stories to stay on your profile, making it easier to express who you are through memories.”
The feature is similar to Instagram Story Highlights where users can make their stories last for more than 24 hours by adding them as highlights. The highlights can be grouped into collections with individual titles and names. Users can also revive expired stories which are saved to the archives as their highlights. These highlights will appear on a horizontal bar on the user’s profile and can be viewed by their friends by default, though the user can restrict or expand the audience as per their wish.
Facebook introduced stories back in March 2017 which let people ‘Show Friends What You’re Up To ‘ Users needed to press the camera icon on the top left corner or swipe right on their newsfeeds in the Facebook app to access the in-app camera. The camera provided various themes, frames and interactive filters and also let you upload visuals/videos from your gallery. Facebook added an additional feature where users who also use Instagram can share their stories from Instagram directly on their Facebook stories. Users could view the stories on the application and on their browsers as well.
Snapchat vs. Facebook
Siladitya adds: ‘Facebook Stories’ is part of the social media giant’s attempt to ape its younger competitor Snapchat. The social giant has slowly added stories to across all its platforms including Instagram and WhatsApp. The idea behind ‘stories’ as envisaged by Snapchat is that, people want to share snappy, creative content on social platforms for a short period of time. The fleeting nature of Snapchat Stories was not a limitation rather it was a design choice. As part of the company’s IPO announcement Snap Inc CEO Ivan Spiegel wrote: “We learned that creativity can be suppressed by the fear of permanence.” This feature drew users towards Snapchat, especially the coveted teen and young adult audience. Facebook had to react and ape its competitor to fight back. But while Facebook chose to embrace the technology of its competitor it could not accept the philosophy behind it. Simply put Facebook is a collection of everything a user has shared over the years, the permanence of that content isn’t just a feature, it’s the essence of the platform.
Story Highlights is a reflection of Facebook holding on to that ‘permanence’. Stories will no longer be something that is shared for a day and then it expires and goes away. Facebook wants you to be able to tap into that piece of content anytime you want to and share it with your friends whenever you want.
Is Facebook Stories a failure?
Despite offering the same broad features as its competitors and even some minor additions Facebook Stories hasn’t really caught on. Facebook Stories are presently only used by about 150 million users daily, that is lower than Snapchat’s 161 million daily users (almost all of whom use stories). The Stories feature on Facebook-owned Instagram is doing a lot better though with 400 million daily active users. This could stem from the fact that Instagram like Snapchat is seen as a simpler, does one thing platform. People go on to Instagram to share and view media content (images/videos) only, Stories seems like a natural extension of that. Facebook is an ‘everything platform so Stories might be ‘just another’ among a multitude of features.