Taking a page from Snapchat’s book, Facebook introduced the Stories feature to the Instagram platform in August 2016 and then to the Facebook platform in March 2017. Stories is an increasingly popular feature that allows users to share vertical photos and videos that can be altered with filters and text and also disappear after 24 hours. Facebook is betting big on Stories; CEO, Mark Zuckerberg predicts that Stories will soon surpass feed posts on Facebook.
To capitalize on this shift, Facebook extended advertising into Instagram Stories in January 2017, and about one year later, doubled down by introducing its popular “Carousel” ad format to Instagram Stories.
This month, Facebook rolled out Stories Advertising into the Facebook platform in a closed beta. Because the introductory ad format is intended for branding, it is currently only available on a reach objective with no click-through feature yet. Facebook plans to add a call to action component along with additional objectives in the coming months. It will support both static and video creative types that includes a skippable 5 to 15 second video ad format.
Facebook Stories brings immediate reach and scale to advertisers looking to extend their Instagram Stories or even Snapchat Stories creative. Marketers need to consider how users think of the Facebook platform differently.
While Facebook has 1.4B daily active users, younger audiences especially Gen Z’s are no longer flocking to this channel. For those younger users that are already on Facebook, the platform is less personal. And though the average user has 155 friends, they would only trust four of them in a crisis. The Stories feature on Snapchat and Instagram has been a more personal experience because those social platforms offer a more intimate network of close friends. Arguably this is the reason that these networks have driven more usage from younger audiences. It remains to be seen however, if Millennials and especially Gen Z’s will embrace Facebook Stories and broadcast their personal stories to a broader audience of contacts the same way they do on Instagram and Snap.
Scale, or lack thereof, is the most important factor for most of the new ad placements that Facebook introduces. We witnessed this with ads in Messenger and also with Facebook Audience Network when these first launched. With 150 million daily active users already embracing Facebook Stories, scale should not be a problem. Advertisers will follow the eyeballs, as Facebook will be able to deliver reach and scale, as well as its superior targeting, to those advertisers who test this new format.
The Facebook user is evolving rapidly, as younger people leave their parents on Facebook and follow their friends to other social networks. Facebook’s advantage is that it will introduce Stories as a concept to a broader demographic, thereby expanding the audience that advertisers can reach. What we do not yet understand is who the Facebook Stories audience is and how they compare to the largely Millennial and Gen Z audience on Instagram and Snapchat. This is something we are watching very closely as the social media landscape continues to shift and evolve.
Article by Aditi Joshi, Paid Social Media Director