Is Innovation Overrated? Facebook's Stories Feature Is Identical to Instagram's. Social media has changed much in the world but imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Facebook could not stay away from the greatest invention in social media – and second greatest invention in the world after sliced bread, that is – Stories. Yes, Snapchat's idea was shamelessly copied once again. This time, by Instagram's big brother itself, Facebook.
Once you see the feature in your Facebook feed, you will instantly recognize it. The profile circles up top look exactly like on Instagram. Abilities to add filters and reply directly are available as well. The question is then, how will Facebook differentiate the two features on its platforms; and will it, in fact, strive to differentiate at all?
The world is moving towards ephemeral, in-the-moment content. We like to feel present in lives of our friends, celebrity crushes and favorite companies. Snapchat was the first one to, deliberately or luckily, hit the jackpot with this. Just a couple of years after Snapchat went mainstream, we almost internalized the notion that we can easily have a behind-the-scenes access to any business or celebrity.
Naturally, Zuckerberg could not stay inactive and watch massive Snapchat popularity. The fabled story of declined offer to buy Snapchat for a now- amusing $3 billion didn't stop Facebook CEO, and he decided he wants that same exact toy for Facebook. The copycats of all sorts of Snapchat-ty features began to emerge.
It is now unclear whether you will be able to add saved photos and videos to your Stories. But even if it's a possibility and your company is present on both, I encourage you to create slightly different Stories for Facebook and Instagram.
There is really no point in posting the exact same post to all the networks you are present on, because it discourages people from following you on different platforms. The same goes for Stories.
One key differentiator for this type of content is a sense of exclusivity. If you post exact same Stories on different networks, a sense of exclusivity is – well – gone. Followers feel attracted to Stories because they get a feeling that they know more about your business or that they are getting special snippets of content not found anywhere else. If you broadcast the same message on all platforms, you lose spontaneity and that behind-the-scenes impression.
What works much better is to create different, yet related snippets and post one to Instagram and another to Facebook. This way, the content seems different, and at the same time, you encourage people to follow you on all platforms to truly access all of your content.
This works especially great for growing your following if you create a series of Stories. Let's say you want to share three tactics on customer retention. Share two on Facebook and let viewers know they can find a third tactic in your Instagram Story. Or, leverage the power of storytelling by sharing a beginning of a story on one platform, and an ending on the other. This adds a sense of gamification and interest. You can do the same thing for promotions. Announce a discount rate or amount on one platform, but share the actual code on the other. Talk about growing your audience on both networks simultaneously!
Finally, because both networks will now offer Stories doesn't mean you have to be active on both at all times. You might alternate days or share different angles of your business.
Stories provide an amazing opportunity to show real people behind businesses. If you're being authentic in your Stories, it will show through and this is what wins you customers. Get comfortable and creative using Stories, because this feature adds an expectation from you as a small business owner. You can get a little more personal, a little more informal, and a little more spontaneous. This is what customers, especially those from younger generations, are really getting used to.