Why Stories Have Taken Over Social Media

The most popular feature on the internet

Key Takeaways

  • Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and now even Slack have all had a Stories feature. 
  • The benefits of Stories include more user presence on a platform, easily accessible content, and tracking views and engagement. 
  • Experts expect Stories to be integrated into more platforms, even those outside of the social space.
Midsection view of several people standing around using their smartphones.

Maskot / Getty Images

If you feel like every social platform now has a Stories feature, it's because they do—and experts say the feature's popularity is only going to integrate into even more platforms. 

Social media Stories let you post a video or a photo to your followers for a short amount of time to give a real-time glimpse into your day-to-day life, truly adding to the "social" aspect of social media. Now, more and more platforms outside of social media are integrating this type of ephemeral content, further solidifying the feature in the future of the internet.

"What was once a permanent post on Facebook or Instagram like a meal or a fun night out became a Snap," wrote Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at the University of Florida, to Lifewire in an email. "Ephemeral content now has a permanent place in social media."

A History Of Stories 

Stories may seem like it's been around since the dawn of social media. since it's so ingrained in every platform these days, but the feature is only a decade old. Snapchat can be accredited to the feature in 2011, when it debuted with videos and photos that lasted only 24 hours, making people want to view them before their chance to do so was over. 

Of course, since then, Stories have been integrated into other platforms aside from Snapchat. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and, most notably, Instagram all have had a Stories feature on their platforms at some point (and most still do). 

Ephemeral content now has a permanent place in social media.

According to a report from the marketing agency Block Party, Story-based sharing has been growing 15-times faster than news feed sharing since 2018. 

So why exactly has the Stories feature blown up on virtually every corner of the internet? Experts say the feature has many benefits to the platform, users, and content creators. 

"[Stories] encouraged continued user presence in the app, which developers are always interested in, and it encouraged discoverability on the user side because it made users want to keep looking at content," Simon A. Thalmann, the interim marketing and communications director at Kellogg Community College, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Stories are front and center on most platforms—usually at the very top—so it's easier for your followers to spot your Story and actually watch it, rather than taking time to go through their News Feed to find your latest post. Because of this prime visibility, it makes tracking the feature better, too. 

"[Stories] is also trackable in terms of views, showing you in real-time not only how many views/impressions your content receives, but also who viewed and engaged with it," Thalmann added. 

Two friends looking at a smart phone in a cafe.

Tom Werner / Unsplash

Integrating Stories to More Platforms 

More and more platforms are starting to add a Stories-like feature. In the past year alone, Twitter, TikTok, and, as of this week, Slack have all introduced similar Stories feature to their platforms. 

Especially in the case of Slack, it's interesting to see a Stories-style feature added to a messaging app for businesses, but experts still say it could work. 

"The idea of Stories finding its way into Slack isn't as far-fetched as it might seem," economist and tech advisor Will Stewart told Lifewire over email. 

"Stories in Slack feels like a way to potentially add new remote team conversations into their channels—not dissimilar to quick unstructured chats around someone's desk in an office. It's an evolution of their chat channels to become more mobile-first, human, and friendly."

However, while Stories is great for Instagram and Snapchat, Slack isn't and will never be a social media platform. Selepak said people are on Slack solely to work and talk to their coworkers, and more content and notifications could end up becoming a nuisance.

[Stories] encouraged continued user presence in the app... and it encouraged discoverability on the user side because it made users want to keep looking at content.

"Adding more notifications and more content to a platform that users have to use with people from work who they probably don't want to be connected to on social media is a new feature that will be unwelcome," he said. 

"It is one thing not to look at your boss or coworker's Story on Instagram of their cat or lunch, and something different on Slack where users will feel forced to look at those same Slack Stories their coworkers' post."

And, not to mention, not all platforms have been successful in their Stories venture. For example, Twitter's version of Stories, dubbed Fleets, was as fleeting as its name and only lasted eight months. So only time will tell if Slack and other platforms jumping the Stories bandwagon can successfully integrate the feature into their platforms.

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