It has been a month, and the top bar on my Facebook newsfeed still remains as barren as ever.
Facebook Stories was rolled out to all Facebook app users at the end of last month, and once again, bore a striking resemblance to Snapchat.
Quirky filters? Check. Posts that disappear in 24 hours? Check.
There was almost no attempt by Facebook to differentiate themselves from competitor Snapchat, as they confidently rolled it out into our Facebook timelines, perhaps spurred on by Instagram Stories’ success.
And it’s no surprise why it has been taken up so well.
Personally, while I had my reservations about Instagram Stories as a Snapchat user (then), the former grew on me quickly because of its clean interface, the lack of kiddish filters, and a steady engagement among friends I was closer to.
Fast forward to now, and I’ve completely weaned off using the latter. Among friends, I’ve also noticed a steady migration away from Snapchat, leaving it a mere shell of its former self.
Then Came Facebook Stories
On the day of its release, the new top bar was populated with a bubbles from the more curious on my friends’ list.
I tried it out too, and while the filters were admittedly cute, I could foresee it going down the same path as Snapchat, when the novelty just wears off after a while.
Soon, the top bar just became a nuisance, and I found myself cursing under my breath whenever a slip of my thumb lead to the camera. It was also rather depressing to see a bar with 1 or 2 bubbles, and made me wonder what the point of its existence was.
There was also a curious development that I noticed on 4 Apr, a few days after the rollout:
If you were to compare this to Instagram Stories, a ‘ghost’ bubble only appears when you’ve already viewed all the posts from a particular person.
Knowing very well that I’ve not opened a single story, I gave it the benefit of a doubt, and tapped on one of them to see if I had missed out any post.
“XX hasn’t added anything to his story recently.”
So having these ‘ghosts’ was just indicative of one thing – Facebook was well-aware of its failure, and is trying to make the redundant bar look less redundant.
Why Did It Fail To Take Off?
Of course, it’s inevitable that new features don’t take off immediately, but 1 month without any sign of take-up is another story.
I was curious to find out why my Facebook friends and colleagues weren’t using it either, so I ventured out with this question: “For those who haven’t/aren’t using Stories, why not?”
Responses were varied on the surface, but from what I’ve gotten, the core reasons can be summarised into 3 main points.
1. They’re Already Active, And Gaining Traction On Other Platforms
This was also one of the reasons why Instagram Stories took off so well.
While different individuals are more inclined to use different platforms for different purposes, it’s only natural that one would choose one over the other based on audience engagement.
And it’s not just any engagement – it’s the engagement that one prefers.
For example, interacting with 100 close friends as compared to 400 acquaintances is more meaningful, and more thoroughly satisfies the need to share moments on social media.
There’s also the FOMO (‘fear of missing out’) phenomenon that comes into play here.
‘Social media’ is, as its name so clearly suggests, social by nature, so why would anyone stubbornly post on a platform that’s as barren as a desert, instead of flocking to the watering hole where everyone else is at?
2. Facebook Isn’t An Appropriate Place For Sharing Such Spontaneous Moments
As compared to LinkedIn, a good number of Facebook users in Singapore tend to use the latter as a means to keep in contact with contacts made at work.
Many acquaintances at best, Facebook gives us the chance to share a slightly more fun (but still carefully curated) side of ourselves, but there’s also the limit as to how casual one can be.
Instagram, on the other hand, is used by most as a means to post photos of the things that matter most of them, and having it on ‘private’ also means that you can be extremely selective with who you’re revealing your non-professional side to.
For some, their jobs require them to portray more polished image, and a private Instagram account thus gives them the freedom to express their not-so-glamourous sides.
3. Not Active On Other Platforms, And FB Stories Doesn’t Inspire Starting On It Either
For others, the introduction of disappearing snippets on their social media apps doesn’t serve to do anything but clutter their feeds.
Facebook Stories’ features are copy and paste from the ones that came before it at best, and with no foreseeable benefits in starting, and with no other peers to engage in – what’s the point?
But Does The Zuck Actually Care?
Just like many of the features that we’ve complained about, but have since grown to live with, Stories probably isn’t going away anytime soon.
It’s no secret that Facebook is viciously inching Snapchat out of its own corner, and destroying the USP that it had.
And while there’s a lot of PR-friendly rhetoric in an attempt to convince users that it’s a great idea, it has just become more apparent that Zuckerberg and co. are just making Snapchat pay, over and over again, after the US$3 billion cash acquisition bid was rejected.
Featured Image Credit: Getty