All users will soon have access to the new Facebook Camera feature that lets them overlay special effects on photos and videos. They can then share this content to a Snapchat clone called Facebook Stories that appears above News Feed on mobile and works similarly to Instagram’s 24-hour ephemeral slideshows. Users also may share these posts to News Feed, individual friends through the new Facebook Direct private visual messages that disappear once digested or any combination thereof.
“As people mostly post photos and videos, Stories is the way they’re going to want to do it,” says Facebook Camera product manager Connor Hayes, noting Facebook’s shift away from text status updates after 10 years as its primary sharing option. “Obviously we’ve seen this doing very well in other apps. Snapchat has really pioneered this,” explained Hayes, less shy to mention the competitor by name than some other Facebook executives.
But really it was the rapid ascent of Instagram Stories to 150 million daily users that he says inspired Facebook to start testing its own Stories in January, and keep expanding it to 12 countries before today’s rollout. Surprisingly, Hayes says Facebook Stories is “additive,” not detracting from News Feed sharing or usage of its other Stories products. “We’ve tested in markets with Instagram Stories and Messenger Day, and we’ve seen this as accretive. They end up posting more and they like using the Stories format across apps.”
That’s the worst news for Snapchat and best news for Facebook since the world’s biggest social network adopted the strategy of copying the competitor that refused its acquisition offer.