Facebook's at it again.
Just when you thought The Social Network had done all they could to duplicate Snapchat's functions in their apps, they're now looking to add a new Stories option within Facebook itself.
Video via The Next Web
Pretty amazing right? Amazing in that they're, again, so blatantly copying Snapchat - though they crossed that threshold some time back with the introduction of Instagram Stories. But also amazing to consider the possibilities.
You see, Facebook's not doing this just for fun or to see what happens, they're doing this based on data - and maybe to take a little bit more wind out of the sails of Snapchat ahead of their planned IPO.
While it's another fairly blatant copy of Snapchat, with this move, Facebook's acknowledging, once again, that the 'Stories' format, originated by Snapchat, is a new paradigm in social media.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom explained this when Instagram Stories was launched:
"Just like when Facebook invented the [News] Feed, and every social product was like, 'That's an innovation, how do we adapt that to our network?' You're going to see stories pop up in other networks over time, because it's one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order"
Given this statement, and Systrom's insider knowledge, we probably shouldn't be surprised that Facebook's now doing the same - his comment seems to capture the company's perspective on the duplication. This is a function, and a function that people are responding to. It makes sense to provide it to more people.
And going on the latest data, that bet will likely pay off - less than six months after the launch of Instagram Stories, the option is already being used by 150 million people every day. That's the same number of daily active users that Snapchat reportedly has.
Pretty easy to see the motivation for trying it out.
What's more, with Facebook Stories, The Social Network will be introducing the Stories function to a lot of people who aren't aware of it.
Even if you combine all of Snapchat and Instagram's total users, that would still only account for less than half of Facebook's 1.8 billion total active audience. That means there's a lot of people who've never been exposed to Stories, never seen it in action, a significant audience who'll see something totally new. And as shown in the video and screenshots above, the prominent placement of the option will make it impossible to ignore. No doubt at lot of those people will at least be intrigued enough to try it out, to tap on the Stories bubble of their friend and see what's happening.
Yes, it's a direct copy, and no doubt there'll be many who'll deride Facebook's lack of originality. But the logic of the move makes sense. Facebook wants more sharing activity on the platform. The Stories format increases sharing.
And what's more, Facebook Stories could provide a whole new opportunity for brands, another way to generate reach on the platform. At present, detail is fairly limited - we don't know whether the option will be available for Pages, either initially or eventually. But you'd expect that the tool will also be opened to Pages, one way or another, which adds another element to the Facebook marketing process.
Right now, Facebook Stories is only being made available in Ireland as part of a test. This is the same process Facebook has used for other Snapchat-like additions, like the new camera function, most functions of which have since been expanded to Messenger.
You can expect the same with Facebook Stories - Facebook told TechCrunch that they're planning to bring the option to more users "in the coming months".
It's a bold move, for sure, but one which could deliver significant benefit. But another key question now is how will such additions impact on the growth of Snapchat?