First Instagram. Then, after a few months, Facebook. And now Whatsapp with its status, very similar to stories: video-photographic updates that remain visible only for 24 hours and then disappear from the view of your contacts.
But why does all social networks seem to have had the same idea and all focus on the same format? There is more than one reason.
1. Conquering the Young
Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp copied the idea of Stories from Snapchat, the social favorite of very young people and digital natives, with 300 million active users per month, most of which under 35.
Snapchat Stories are made up of…snap, which is for photos but also for snapshots, and last no more than 24 hours (while snaps can last only a few seconds). This way users can post photos and videos of any kind, without fear that they will remain in the memory of their contacts. A form of liquid and fast communication, which children like and… keeps their parents away (quite) from them.
Facebook alone collects 500 terabytes of data per day between photos, videos and texts. Which suggests that in the long run social media may have some storage problems: Stories that disappear after a day (even if they resist a little more on servers for legal reasons) may also help to save memory.
3. The desire for newness and competition
Facebook with 1.9 billion active users per month is the most popular social network, even by millennials. But to retain such a vast and varied user, it needs continuous novelty.
At Whatsapp, which has 1.2 billion users, Stories within the Status could serve to stem competition from other innovative messengers, such as Telegram.
Instagram Stories, which reached 150 million active users in February 2017, served Instagram instead to compete directly in Snapchat.
Leaving traces of our life on social media can create many problems: they made news layoffs after an unexpected status against the office manager or after the publication of a photo that is not sober. The stories, visible only by some friends and destined to disappear in 24 hours, are definitely more friends of privacy.
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Who owns Instagram? What about Whatsapp? The answer is always the same: Facebook. The king of social media is also because he owns the potential competitors. All except Snapchat who in 2013 refused a billionaire takeover offer from Facebook (who liked it a lot).
Copying good ideas therefore has the whole air of an industrial strategy. The first social that the Stories were tested on was Instagram, certainly not the most important: if something had gone wrong, if the new service had not worked, there would not have been too many risks.
Once proven that the novelty works, the Stories have also landed on Facebook, the battleship of the Empire of Mark Zuckerberg, without risk of experimentation.
Last but not least, the Stories format seems to be made for sponsors. Instagram announced the arrival of the ad in January 2017: commercials, in the form of photos or videos will appear automatically when users pass from one post to another (Instagram stories are then browsed, one after Let’s get ready for a brand stories invasion.