Video via Social Media Minute with Jan Rezab. All rights reserved.

Not only Facebook, including Instagram, Messenger, and What’sApp, Weibo, the microblogging platform giant in China, has also started implementing this “me too” strategy a week ago, rolling out its “Stories” function and joining the battle of online ephemeral video sharing in social networking market. Well, just too similar to be surprised.

Back in August last year when Instagram launched “Stories”, while being criticized as a rip-off of what Snapchat originally made famous and has been doing for a long time, Instagram CEO Kevin System addressed the elephant in the room: “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”¹ The mindset behind it is that, once users are getting growingly used to a format, it is more important to let nature take its course than originality and creativity. Regardless of how you feel about this similarity or even blatant in social networking market, the popularity of the format of ephemeral video has seemed to solidify “Stories” as a new way to reach users. And now social marketers have a new toy to play with, especially regard to millennials marketing.

Millennials love visual socializing because it is the most powerful force and direct highway to meet their high expectations for new content and constant connection. As a content delivering format, short videos are more easily digestible than text yet richer than images, but more importantly, content originally generated within their personal networking provide them a sense of community. When they see what others are doing, it keeps them connected to their friends and acts as an ongoing conversation. With “Stories”, no matter it is from Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or Weibo, companies and brands is empowered to develop a higher level of public, appealing visual storytelling strategy for reaching and engaging a larger base of millennial audience. And for social media businesses themselves, visual socializing is increasingly solicited as the most effective model to grow user stickiness to their platforms.

As for Weibo, the new comer to “Stories” world, it is now in alpha testing before official launching and initially open to public entertainment celebrities and Internet influencers. Sounds familiar? Yes, Snapchat had done that in its early promotion and successfully grew its user base. Weibo, as the top-ranking social media in China, gathers most of those celebrities and influencers; with “Stories”, at least it has the potential to attain a short-time boom in traffic and clicks. Differently, Weibo doesn’t necessarily to compete with those more global players but much focuses on domestic market. What’s more, most users in China’s domestic market are less exposed to this format of ephemeral videos, which ensures a higher level of novelty.

With more and more social platforms prioritizing in visual socializing, some stories behind “Stories” are becoming more and more clear. It is the key component of business strategy to seize millennials, for not only social networking platforms but also other companies and brands that would like to build a relationship with this demographic.

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