Facebook Adds Camera Effects and Stories, Similar to Snapchat + Instagram
Facebook recently announced updates to its camera feature. Users will now be able to interact and stay in touch with friends while adding camera effects, stories, and direct photo or video messages. The update provides users with features similar to Snapchat and Instagram, offering photo enhancements such as masks, frames, and interactive filters. The update was fully rolled out after a few months of beta testing, which started with users in Ireland at the end of January.
The new in-app camera is accessible by tapping the camera icon in the top left corner of the app or swiping right in the news feed. Once in the camera, there are several effects to choose from, including masks, frames, and interactive filters – all are compatible with both photos and videos. Some of the masks available are sponsored by brands. Brands highlighted in the rollout include upcoming movies such as Despicable Me 3, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, and a handful more.
Also featured in the camera effects is guest art from visual artists. Creative will frequently be added and updated to keep users engaged.
Within the next few months Facebook plans to give users the ability to create their own frames that can be applied to all photos and videos taken with Facebook’s new camera.
Stories will now be displayed at the top of the news feed in the main Facebook app. Just like those on Snapchat and Instagram, videos and images in the stories will be viewable by friends for 24 hours before disappearing. Users do have the ability to share their stories to their timeline and news feed. To add a story, tap on the “Your Story” button at the top of the news feed.
An extension of Stories, Direct lets users share enhanced photos and videos with specific friends for a limited amount of time. And, like Snapchat, the receiver can view the Direct message once and replay it if they wish. They can then write a reply or respond with an image or video themselves. Content will disappear after the conversation ends. Tap “Direct” next to “Your Story” to send a photo or video.
What Platform Do Users Choose?
In early Q3 of 2016, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, added stories to their arsenal.
Following the successful launch, Facebook decided to roll out an identical feature within their main Facebook app.
“Facebook has long been the place to share with friends and family, but the way that people share is changing in significant ways. The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago – it’s much more visual, with more photos and videos than ever before. We want to make it fast and fun for people to share creative and expressive photos and videos with whoever they want, whenever they want.” – Facebook
The update isn’t surprising as major social networks tend to mimic offerings, but it raises a critical question – how do users choose where to share their content?
Consumers now have three major platforms offering the same function. Before Instagram and Facebook Stories, a large number of cross-over users were spending time on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat because each offered different benefits and experiences. Now those cross-over users are faced with a decision, where do they share their content? Do they stick with all the platforms and their original functionality, migrate to Facebook to get an all-in-one deal, or share content on all three platforms?
It remains to be seen how users will react to Facebook Stories. Though Instagram Stories rapidly took off, will users be just as enticed by an identical feature in a different app? This could be a test from Facebook to see which platform Stories performs best on, Facebook or Instagram. In any case, Facebook Stories will likely cause some disruption in the real-time sharing space.
If the Facebook Stories rollout is anything like that of Instagram, Snapchat could face even more competition. Reports suggest that the launch of Instagram Stories contributed to Snapchat’s growth declining by nearly 82% since Q3 of 2016.
What This Means for Marketers
As of now this update appears to be available only to user profiles and not brand pages, but that does not mean it will not happen. And if it does, marketers need to be ready. The Snapchat Story feature presented a great avenue for brands to get personal with their fans, but growing a fan base on a new platform was difficult.
Cue Instagram Stories. The update allowed brands to utilize a real-time sharing feature on a network where they already had established fan bases. If Facebook Stories is rolled out to brand pages, the opportunity is even greater than it was on Instagram as many brands have even larger fan bases, especially the early adaptors. Video is the hot content piece of 2017. And Live is proving to work well for brands on Facebook. If Stories are rolled out for brands, it could be big.
Currently, the “brand” masks featured in the new camera are all for upcoming movies. But as time goes on, it’s likely that other brands will be able to purchase and create masks and filters, mirroring Snapchat’s advertising model. Other potential paid options could range from brands purchasing the first couple spots in the list of Stories at the top of news feeds to brands being able to place ads between Stories, an ad type that was available on Snapchat for a short time. And with Facebook’s unparalleled targeting sophistication and data accuracy, it could turn into another revenue-generating ad format alongside the standard mobile + desktop news feed.
If and when Stories are rolled out to brands, it’s important to keep quality and authenticity in mind. Though you will want to capitalize on the update right away, don’t get sloppy. Users can quickly see through ploys, and don’t appreciate low-quality videos and images. Unoriginal or low-quality content leads to them not only abandoning content but becoming turned off by the brand as a whole.