Snapcode from SnapchatSnapchat certainly hasn’t been getting the press that Instagram and Facebook has lately. When Snap is covered, it’s been about falling stock prices. It’s about how they bungled their redesign and alienated users. It’s fair criticism. Snap didn’t do a great job communicating to users.  It’s had to roll back some of the design elements to appease users. It also seems they’ve lost ground on the stories feature to Instagram lately, which is a shame as Snap really pushed stories first.

I’ve written before about how I made my Snap stories public, and about Snapchat’s analytics tools they launched earlier this year. Since then, I’ve been randomly posting to my public feed. I haven’t had a plan or motive with my posts. In fact, it’s been mostly an afterthought in terms of my social usage this year. I’ve enjoyed the interactions and tools on Instagram (follow me here) over Snapchat, but I’ve got a much larger audience on Snapchat.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this weekend that my public story views went over the 500,000 mark. The fact that my stories have been viewed a half a million times is crazy. People around the world have spent over 33,200 minutes watching my stories. That’s over 550 hours. Crazy.

Snapchat Analytics

Screenshot of my public story analytics

Observations on half a million views

What have I learned from reaching this milestone?

First, Snapchat isn’t dead. Have they fallen behind Instagram, especially on the stories side? Yes. But all’s not lost. In watching what social platforms my 16-year-old son uses, his main method of communication and sharing is Snapchat.

Snapchat needs to catch up where it’s fallen behind on stories. It needs to integrate new features like Instagram’s “ask a question” story feature. I plan to write more about the “ask a question” feature, but Snap should get something like that into it’s story as soon as they can.

Second, as I dig into the analytic data, I see that people who do view my story view all of the story. On my days, my story view percentage is 100%, and rarely dips below 95%.

Keep in mind, these people are mostly strangers, so the fact they follow all my posts shows users on the platform are engaged and watch stories. I don’t know if brand stories with lots of ads get the same sort of engagement.

Even when go without a post for a week or so, the viewership is still there and the numbers are consistent.

Finally, Snapchat needs to give users a way to discover other users easier. Instagram does a good job of this, but Snap doesn’t. I know Snapchat’s core functionality is between two people, but if they want to grow they need better user and  brand account search features. Easier search means more viewers means more ad dollars.

Now that I’ve reached this milestone, I wonder how fast I can get to a million views? Will it be before the end of 2018? I’ll post again when I reach that mark.

Facebook StoriesIt seems like all the major social platforms are working day and night to copy each other’s features. Lately, it seems they all have their sights set on the newly-public Snapchat, who launched their stories feature ages ago. Instagram soon followed,  and this week the mighty Facebook is launching a story feature.

Stories are not a new concept – users can now post images, videos, and more to a “story” as opposed to their news feed. These are intended to be ephemeral, lasting a few hours or a day, and then the disappear. Users can send these to all their friends, or like Snapchat and Instagram, direct them a specific user.

Facebook will allow drawing, stickers, and more to be added to photos. Facebook’s spin on the story will include a feature they are calling “masks,” which is a lift of Snapchat’s filters feature. Snapchat’s filters are fun but they have some pretty serious science behind them. Here are a few examples of masks Facebook will ship:

Facebook Masks

As you can see, they will be heavily advertiser focused. In the example above, you can see an Aliens move tie-in, Minions, and Guardians of the Galaxy. These IPs all have new movies coming out this summer. After all, Facebook is an advertising company, first and foremost.

Here’s what I thought when I saw this news this morning. If every platform and tool has an ephemeral stories feature, then none of them do. My time is limited, and now I have to think about what platform I should or need to post my stories on. None of them? All of them? Where do I reach the most amount of people?

For example, for some reason, I have a huge following on Snapchat. Literally tens of thousands. I post stories there and they do well with many views. Now, with Facebook launching stories, will that audience erode? Do I have to post the same content on Facebook where I reach less people, or do I focus my limited energies on the platforms where I already have brand value?

And that’s me as an individual. This is going to add a whole new layer of complexity for brands, institutions, and companies. They will need to decide where it makes sense for them to spend their time and resources to reach their key audiences as well. The Verge says this:

Where to post your daily story now becomes a daily concern for a certain subset of youngish, social media-savvy people. Facebook says stories belong everywhere that people are talking online, but what if the format is a fad? And what if forcing it on users across its entire family of app leads to a general fatigue with the idea? The company says each of its apps has a distinctive audience, and I believe it. But there’s also plenty of overlap. There’s a risk here that Facebook’s mania for stories will be interpreted as overkill by its users, and the feature will ultimately fade into the background. (This happened with live video!)

This stories war has the potential to also create confusion among users. If Facebook puts a large amount of attention and advertising around the Stories feature, will that slowly decrease the amount of news feed posts people and brands are doing? Will brands want to spend money to promote their posts to news feeds if the traffic isn’t there to see it?

Personally, I’m all for stories if it stops people posting freebooted videos and “inspirational” quotes on their news feeds.