- The number of people using Facebook’s Stories feature is steadily increasing, according to new data from Cowen.
- This trend could will likely help boost the average time users spend on Facebook — a figure that has been in decline for years.
- In doing so it could help rejuvenate Facebook after two years of constant scandals.
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Facebook’s Stories product is becoming a quiet hit.
People’s usage of the ephemeral sharing feature, which lets you share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, has been steadily climbing upwards over the past year, and could help reverse a problematic trend the social network has faced in recent years: People spending less time on the platform.
This week, financial services firm Cowen put out an analyst note on Facebook in advance of the California tech company’s Q2 earnings on Wednesday. It includes the latest results from its regular consumer internet survey that tracks Americans’ internet habits — and it shows a steady uptick for Facebook Stories over the past year.
Across all demographics, usage of Facebook Stories went up in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the first three months of the year: Among 18 to 24 year-olds, it went from 40 to 44%, for example, while at the other end of the spectrum, the usage of people aged 55 to 64 years old leapt from 24 to 30%.
Instagram’s implementation of Stories is better-established, more talked-about, and has historically generated greater excitement for advertisers. But Cowen’s data illustrates that the core Facebook app is also now making strides — and as on Instagram before it, it may help to drive up the amount of time spent on Facebook over the long run.
Over the past few years, there has been a broad decline in the amount of time spent on Facebook by its users. While its overall user numbers aren’t going south, the time they choose to spend on the app daily has been slowly trending downwards. The growth of Stories on Facebook could help to reverse that, Cowen analyst John Blackledge predicts, arguing Stories helped grow the time spent on Instagram over the past two years.
“For Core FB Stories, we saw engagement rise q/q, to 36% of US users in 2Q19 vs. 33% in 1Q19, which is encouraging and could bode well for time spent. Our survey suggests that Core FB Stories engagement increased across all age cohorts in our survey,” he wrote in the analyst note.
“Since beginning our survey in 1Q17, [Instagram] time spent has increased by ~10%, with rising engagement with Stories likely driving overall time spent up.”
If borne out, this could be a boon to Facebook — helping rejuvinate its core app after two years of constant scandals, and providing users a fresh reason to visit it. And it would be a bonanza for advertisers, offering an increasingly exciting new way to target those two billion-plus people with ads.
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