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'Facebook Stories' A New Chapter For Social Network

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.

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