Facebook's new Collaborative Stories brings a new level of real-time engagement to its Events platform.
Facebook announced an upcoming feature this week that will likely please eventprofs and event attendees alike. What's more, this time, it's not just another straight-up Snapchat feature clone. The new Collaborative Stories feature will be available for group members and event attendees using the Facebook Mobile application.
Facebook vs Snapchat
There are some similarities to Snapchat's group feature. Like with Snapchat, users add their stories to a collaborative timeline, however, Snapchat's groups are limited to 16 people and lack the common interest factor associated with Facebook events and groups. Snapchat's groups are also limited to friends and contacts only.
This puts Facebook firmly in the lead against Snapchat for now, as far as events are concerned. However, it's likely that Snap Inc. is watching very closely and deciding what its next move will be. In terms of interface and user experience, Facebook is winning hands down. Many users finding Snapchat's interface confusing for anything other than sending ephemeral posts to friends.
A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
We've known for a long time that images can enable us to say a lot quickly and short-form videos fall into that category too. Facebook Stories, just like Snapchat Stories allows the user to do both. Although it won't replace the written word anytime soon, it does allow for more freedom of expression and that has to be a good thing.
Collaborative Stories Means More Engagement
For eventprofs, having constant engagement on social channels such as Facebook can lead to event FOMO and help to bring an event's message to a wider audience. However, this can be problematic. If attendees are spending time updating their statuses and posting photos, they're not 100% in the room. Collaborative Stories answers this by giving attendees a streamlined experience capable of capturing and sharing moments as they happen.
From an attendee's point of view, the content will look just like a personal story but with multiple contributors, all of whom have one thing in common: they're interested in the event. Just like personal stories, the new Collaborative Stories will be found at the top of attendees' timelines.
For now, there appears to be no plan to show the Collaborative Stories in the main Facebook timeline. Although somewhat limiting from a visibility point of view, it's a good start.
The video below shows how the new feature will work:
Facebook Stories And Facebook Ads
It's unclear if there will be any changes to Facebook's advertising platform to better facilitate and/or use the new feature. Sponsored Stories viewable from the Facebook timeline could really help to stir up event FOMO. Its flick-book style presentation in the timeline could potentially be a real attention grabber.
Collaborative Stories Administration
Administration for the new feature will work in much the same way as other content posted to an event timeline. Just like with standard updates, event administrators can choose to allow posts from everyone or require approval first.
More For Remote Attendees
Because Facebook is a global platform that can be accessed by almost everyone, the feature should be just as readily available to remote attendees as it is to those that are participating from within the venue. The new feature could help remote attendees feel much more involved in the event by seeing more of the event from different angles and being able to contribute in real time themselves.
RIP Facebook Events (App)
Sadly, it's not all good news for eventprofs. Facebook giveth and Facebook also taketh away. In this case, it's a pretty big take. As of this week, Facebook announced that its standalone event app is being renamed and reconfigured. The new version of the app is called Facebook Local and will shift the focus away from live events to places. The new app is more like a TripAdvisor clone than an event app. According to app economy barometer, App Annie, the event app was far from successful, dropping out of the charts within weeks. At the time of writing, the rebranded app is somewhere around the #50 mark in the download charts. Maybe it's a grower...
Fortunately, events are still available on the Facebook Mobile app and via the browser and can be found via the hamburger (the icon at the bottom with three horizontal lines) menu and left-hand sidebar respectively.
Facebook Events vs Commercial Event Apps
While Facebook Events can't offer the broad range of features or benefits offered by specialist commercial event apps, it can be a great solution for smaller budgets. It also offers a communication platform that can be used alongside other event applications. One of the biggest advantages of Facebook is that there's almost always a good chance that your attendees already have an account and use it on a regular basis.
The Perfect Event Backchannel?
Whether it's conversation in the bar during a break or chatter on social media, conversation backchannels are extremely valuable to eventprofs and attendees alike. Using a platform like Facebook Events to create a more structured and managed backchannel makes it easier to capture that conversation to feed back into the event management process. Collaborative Stories will further bolster Facebook's offering as a valuable backchannel. Whether or not it is the perfect backchannel depends on many factors but it's certainly one of the strongest contenders.
Expect More From Facebook Stories
Judging by the continual tweaking of Facebook Stories, this is a concept Facebook is very much invested in. The Messenger Day feature is being swapped out for Stories and will allow users to cross-post between the Messenger app and the main Facebook app. Facebook Direct (the Snapchat ephemeral messaging clone feature) is also being dropped and Story replies/comments will be handled by Messenger.
While the overall direction might be unclear, Facebook's continual investment in Events is a good sign. The dilution and name change of the Events app may have shaken our confidence a little but the addition of new features is always welcome and gives us hope for the future.
Your move, Snapchat.