Once the fad, ‘Story’ on social media sees a gradual fadeaway
MUMBAI : About a year ago, LinkedIn, Twitter and Zomato had launched a ‘Stories’ feature on their apps, while some other tech platforms, such as Slack, had announced plans to do so, hoping to replicate the success of the Instagram feature, wherein posts vanish within 24 hours. Now, they have either killed it or pivoted to something else.
Two years ago, digital marketers were of the opinion that Instagram Stories, which was copied by Facebook Inc. from Snapchat in late 2016, was the smartest business move. However, it failed to attract users on other platforms. The feature is also available on Facebook and WhatsApp.
For instance, in September 2020, professional networking site LinkedIn launched the Stories feature, but took it off last month. “We learned users wanted something different on LinkedIn," Liz LI, senior director of product, LinkedIn, said. “Turns out, users want to create lasting videos that tell their professional stories in a personal way, and showcase both their personality and field of expertise."
Twitter rolled out disappearing tweets or Fleets globally in November 2020 so that users could “share their momentary thoughts with less pressure", but shut it down in July.
Digital marketers said the failure was more due to lack of advertiser interest. “LinkedIn would be, at best, 20% of Facebook’s reach, and Twitter will be 30%," said Rahul Vengalil, managing partner at digital agency Isobar. Even if platforms witnessed similar adoption rates for the Stories feature, the absolute reach and advertising opportunity were minimal compared to Facebook, he added.
This, however, did not stop homegrown food delivery major Zomato—with one-hundredth the users Facebook Inc. garners—from piloting Stories, wherein users could post food reviews. The feature is no longer visible on its app.
This is a classic case of herd mentality, said Shradha Agarwal, chief operating officer, Grapes Digital. “Instagram copied Snapchat, and everyone copied Instagram. Nobody asked what Stories are needed for."
Agarwal said such a feature could only work on a platform like Instagram where users want to spend time without an agenda.
According to industry executives, consumer-tech firms keep introducing new features on their apps, but are quick to pivot if the experiment fails. For instance, Twitter suspended its live-streaming app Periscope, which it had bought in 2015, while Facebook ended the Notes feature despite widespread adoption. However, nothing in recent years received the kind of public attention, both at the time of its roll-out and rollback, that Stories has.
It wasn’t just another experiment. It was a classic example of a copy doing better than the original (i.e. Snapchat) and platforms hoping to emulate Instagram’s success. Yet, the rollout was criticised by several users who complained about how every social media app looked the same with disappearing posts on top.
Some planned similar features and changed tracks. In October 2020, the global business communication platform Slack announced plans to launch a Stories-like feature on its app, saying it was an idea that captured the spirit of the time. Last month, when it finally launched Clips, it was nothing like Stories. “They [Clips] are permanently in the channel. The content is searchable so it’s archived and can be rewatched when needed," a company spokesperson says. It would seem Stories is now an idea whose time has passed.