After launching a few weeks ago, Facebook Stories have become somewhat of a joke because it seems like no one is using them. For many Facebook mobile users, the screenshot below is what they’re seeing — a random set of ghosted out friends that haven’t “added to their story recently.” Translation: They’re not using Facebook Stories.
This is particularly odd since Facebook-owned Instagram just announced that Instagram Stories blazed past Snapchat’s daily active users, with no signs of slowing down. And given that Facebook Stories are pretty much just like Instagram Stories (which are a total copycat of Snapchat Stories) why aren’t people using Facebook Stories?
To find out why, Hill Holliday’s in-house research group surveyed over 1000 people — more than half of whom are younger than 44 and a third less than 35 years old with a 50/50 gender split. 58% of respondents use Facebook several times per day and 83% several times per week.
We found that 20% of respondents have never heard of Facebook Stories and over 50% know of them but don’t use them. So what is the reason why the majority of Facebook users aren’t using Facebook Stories?
The answer is that they’re already quite content using either Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories—They don’t want to use (or switch to) yet another platform to post “stories.” In fact, 445 Snapchat Story users and 410 Instagram Story users responded to our survey by saying, “I prefer to use one platform [for stories].” There’s an overwhelming feeling that Facebook Stories is a redundant feature and an added commitment that people don’t want to make.
In diving a bit deeper as to why that “one platform” for story publishing isn’t Facebook Stories, I validated that, like me, there are many Facebook users whose “friend” group was built up very broadly and they don’t want to share real-time moments with this mixed group of people. Simply put, Facebook Stories doesn’t fit with how they use Facebook. In fact, some users pointed out that they are using Facebook far less to post personal updates and far more to share third-party content and news. They are increasingly turning to Instagram to post about their life moments.
So what does this mean for advertisers on Facebook? At the moment, Facebook Pages for brands don’t even have access to the Stories feature and Facebook has no immediate plans to monetize user stories with inserted ads. You can bet this will change if the masses start using Facebook Stories like they are Instagram Stories. Either way, Facebook (who bought Instagram 5 years ago) wins. The company’s portfolio that includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp reaches well over 3 billion people across the world…every day. So if Facebook Stories fails as a feature, it’s just not a big deal — Instagram already has it covered.