- Facebook Stories is entering a beta phase in the U.S. and several other countries internationally following a test run in Ireland earlier this year, according to Mashable. The video messaging feature, located on News Feed, is nearly identical to Snapchat in appearance and functionality.
- Facebook Stories emphasizes a new tool called Direct, which appears to be an attempt to clone Snapchat’s one-to-one and group messaging interface.
- Facebook Stories will occupy the top horizontal bar of Facebook's mobile app, as Instagram Stories does on Instagram. The Facebook Messenger shortcut has, in turn, been relegated the bottom center of the screen, per Mashable.
With its latest offering, Facebook is clearly trying to replicate its earlier success on Instagram, right down to sharing the Stories name. However, News Feed, where Facebook Stories is hosted, is a very different and in some ways more complex product than Instagram, acting as a sort of “modern phonebook” directory for many users, per Mashable.
Stemming from that, News Feed is neither as visually nor video-focused as Instagram is, making a Snapchat-like feature a less natural fit. That's not to say Facebook Stories will flop. Instagram Stories — often derided as a desperate copycat effort at launch — has seen meteoric growth, in part thanks to its namesake platform's massive built-in audience.
Facebook proper's user base is significantly larger than Instagram's, which means Facebook Stories could have an even healthier stable of early adopters and, stemming from that, attract a lot of marketers' attention. Instagram recently rolled out full-screen Stories ads globally, along with more robust marketing tools for brands on its platform.
Facebook has suggested that digital ad space on News Feed will be completely taken up within the next few years, and Stories arrives as the company attempts to pivot more of its advertising focus toward video-oriented content.
Snapchat, coming off parent company Snap's initial public offering of stock two weeks ago, is likely feeling increased pressure to innovate amid accusations of being overvalued, and as a plethora of big-name copycat services emerge, many coming directly from Facebook. Instagram Stories, for example, became such a hit that it's been speculated the feature siphoned off users and talent from Snapchat, stoppering the rival platform's growth in the critical period leading up to its IPO.
Facebook Stories is the second Snapchat clone to see a broader rollout in the past two weeks alone, following Messenger Day, a Stories-like feature for Facebook Messenger. Messenger Day has received mixed-to-negative reviews from many early users and brands can't currently advertise on it.