if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees that something is working for a competitor, he either copies it or acquires them.
Some days ago, WhatsApp announced the new feature called "status" which is a new tab for sharing decorated pics, videos and GIFs that disappear after 24 hours. It’s another Facebook-owned Snapchat Stories copycat, but the twist is that it’s end-to-end encrypted, just like WhatsApp messaging. WhatsApp has now 1.2 billion monthly users, with users sending 60 billion messages per day, including 3.3 billion photos, 760 million videos and 80 million GIFs. This comes after Facebook stories, which work the same way, and after the big success of Instagram stories, with 150 million people using it in the five months since its inception.
The first observation is if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees that something is working for a competitor, he either copies it or acquires them.
The second question is ... why? Definitely, behind these updates there is a business strategy. Sharing stories may allow and simplify the all ads process within the app. The addition of this feature is that it is not a mere and pure way of meddling in the affairs of others, but it is rather a part of an ads-centric marketing plan.
However, the greater enigma is ... why Stories are so successful?
Why are people so in love with the all-ephemeral way of communicating?
Firstly, people loved Snapchat - the leading social platform, which was all about privacy and expiration - for its informal tone. Therefore, the other social media platforms that allow this function will encourage the same informality. You know that content posts of this nature are more genuine and immediate, sometimes even childish.
The 5-inch view is packed with a lot more power than an 11-inch view. Mobile brings with it location, social and the ability to move. We always have in our hands our mobile phones ready to catch and record what is happening. Sometimes it is interesting, most of the time it is not, but we are still always ready.
Behind the scenes content
If the Instagram feed has become a place for only the most prissy, polished, pre-produced pictures and video, then Stories represent a way to add some authenticity to the content. Brands have a chance to take their followers on a journey and tell the story behind the posts in their feed. Ephemerality means you don’t need to overthink what you post.
When social media first hit the mainstream, there was a lot of buzz and excitement about being able to talk directly with celebrities and brands. Stories give brands the chance to get back to the roots of social media and engage with their followers on a 1:1 basis.
You know who's watching
If people have seen your post, their usernames are revealed. This feature is actually a major return, sending us back to one of the first characteristics that social media had back in 2007 (MySpace), when you could trace who visited your profile.
What's next? This all ephemeral sharing is now a thing, but is it really going to last? For its very nature, we can't be sure. The challenge is even bigger than ever with people demanding more authenticity and genuinity. How is this relationship between the person and the brand going to develop in the future? Let's see.
For now we are all spectators and we are all actors in this huge Big Brother.