Facebook has been very clear. They see stories as the future of social media.
In 2017, Facebook added stories to the top of the app’s home screen. And every day since then, they’ve worked to get the app’s mainstream user base to adopt and love stories.
And it’s working.
Earlier this year TechCrunch shared numbers that showed Facebook Stories reaching 500 million daily active users, in less than a year from the feature’s launch. This matched WhatsApp and Instagram story user numbers.
Facebook has not shared new DAU numbers for any of their story platforms since (so we are due some new numbers). But since Facebook is twice the size of any other social network, we can feel pretty confident that Facebook is currently the largest stories platform.
Anecdotally, I’ve seen the quality of Facebook stories increase dramatically over the past 18+ months. The Facebook Stories platform is not just a copy of Instagram’s story feature. Even though it benefits dramatically from users and brands being able to easily cross publish from Instagram Stories.
The main way Facebook is working to convince users to create and view more stories is through shear pixel brute force. Over the course of the past 18 months Facebook Stories have increasingly taken over more and more of the Facebook home screen, a few hundred pixels at a time.
Here’s a rough timeline of what percentage Facebook Stories take up on the Facebook home screen when you launch the app:
- Pre-stories Facebook – 0% (an innocent time)
- March 2017 – 13%
- Early 2018 – 20%
- Early 2019 – 30%
- November, 2019 – 45% (current test)
We saw this most recent test last week and it’s the biggest leap yet. Some users are now seeing this test of a double stack of Facebook Stories on their home screen.
Let’s see how this looks visually over time. Stories are slowly taking over as the main thing Facebook wants you to do when you open the app.
Facebook makes a big discovery leap here. Besides giving way more real estate to stories, the double stack of stories means they are now surfacing 7+ story thumbnails instead of 2-3 story thumbnails, as with the previous treatment. More than twice as many faces you already know and might click on.
They’ve basically given over the whole home screen to stories when you open Facebook. The next step for Facebook is to get more users to CREATE stories. More stories equals more inventory for ads. Watch for more tests to encourage all users to not just view stories, but CREATE more stories.
If Facebook wants stories to be the dominant social media content format, they can influence that trend heavily. Brands should consider how a story-first social media world might change their content strategies.
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