• 08/03/2012
    11:43 AM
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'Facebook Stories' A New Chapter For Social Network

Facebook site dedicated to showcasing members' unique uses of social network might recapture some positive mindshare--and teach us a lesson about savvy marketing.
5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels
5 Facebook Rivals Hot On Its Heels
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Facebook has been in the news for a lot of things lately--disappointing IPO, sliding stock price, fake users. But yesterday, for the first time in what seems like a long time, there was some news about a new Facebook feature: Facebook Stories.

The Facebook Stories site, which is set up in sort of an online magazine style, features stories about "people using Facebook in extraordinary ways." It might be just the thing, or at least one of the things, Facebook needs to re-engage users, and it teaches a good lesson in the value of content.

Each month, Facebook Stories will present a collection of stories around a theme. The first month's theme is "remembering," and the lead story tells the tale of Mayank Sharma, a man who contracted meningitis and suffered memory loss as a result. "I lost 27 years of experience," says Sharma in a three-minute video.

When he was well enough to use his computer, Sharma went through his browser history and found "this site called Facebook on it." Facebook's People You May Know feature took on a very different meaning for Sharma, who used it to piece together his lost memories.

"In a way we're charting that map of human connections, and I think we don't even know what's going to be possible with this," said Peter Jordan, one of the site's creators, on NPR's "All Things Considered" program. "And so for us, it's really just exciting to see what people around the world are doing with this technology that we're building here."

Via a Facebook app, users can submit their own stories, which will be vetted by Facebook.

Two things strike me about Facebook Stories. First, I think it is smart of Facebook to add this feature. As Facebook has evolved from a place for people to connect to an actual business that has to make actual money, it seems to have lost some of the character that drew many of us to it in the first place. I think that it will be a challenge to sustain Facebook Stories--how many stories like Sharma's are there out there?--and its reach seems a little broad to me. It's definitely a marketing tool, but I think that many Facebook users will find value or at least enjoyment in it. And the user experience is something that Facebook has, in my opinion, paid too little attention to lately.

[ Facebook's sponsored content advertising strategy is another story. Read Facebook Settles Lawsuit Over Sponsored Stories. ]

Second, I think Facebook Stories teaches a good lesson for businesses in the value of thoughtfully produced content. When looking for ways to get your customers and potential customers to engage with your organization--and to tell their social contacts about it--content is one sure way to do it. But it can't be just any content. People don't want to read about how great your company or your product is. What they want is content that will help them make a decision, give them something to think about, entertain them, teach them. Of course, you want any content you produce to make people realize how great your company or product is, which is what Facebook is essentially doing with Stories.

Will it work? Will you be sharing your story with Facebook Stories? Will you be reading Facebook Stories? We welcome your comments below.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)


re: 'Facebook Stories' A New Chapter For Social Network

Great new feature that allows us to see what the rest can use as a tool for other than socializing and keeping up with old friends. I would read this section quite frequently to brainstorm for ideas and to also see what else I could use Facebook for. I think that this is a great idea and if people participate, then others will read their stories and be motivated or inspired. The author makes a valid point about valuable content. Too many people are updating their status and profiles with literally useless information; it will be good to see some interesting stories. Has anyone used this feature yet and how did they rate it? This is the first I have heard of it and have been on FB all morning, not to good Mark at letting me know about thisG

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor