Camera-First Communication Moves a Step Closer

Facebook has been copying Snapchat for a while. Last week, it hit hard, introducing three new Snapchat-like features — Facebook Stories (sound familiar?), Facebook Direct and a filter-rich camera that lets you add effects and geotags.


Marketers seeking to expand their reach have a prime opportunity to develop strategies focusing on camera-first communication, which Facebook has now solidified as the new way to disseminate content.

Facebook Stories, similar to Instagram Stories, lets you post videos or photos that disappear after 24 hours. Facebook Stories will appear atop your News Feed but not in it unless you choose to post them there.

screenshot facebook stories

Facebook Direct is an in-app messenger that lets you share photos and videos with specific friends. They can view these once and replay them or write a reply. These, too, disappear after 24 hours.

Screenshot facebook direct

Facebook Camera, accessible by swiping right, has geolocation tags, frames, interactive filters and even six masks from these upcoming movies — “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Alien: Covenant,” “Wonder Woman” and “Despicable Me 3” — and from “Power Rangers,” released in March, and “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which arrives in theaters this week.

Facebook has also added Snapchat-like features in several other apps. Last August, it rolled out Instagram Stories, which snagged more than 150 million daily users within five months. Earlier this year, it added similar features in WhatsApp and Messenger, each of which has more than 1 billion users.

Camera as the New Keyboard?

Rather than focusing on Facebook’s blatant attack on Snapchat, marketers should consider its move to camera-first communication.

Facebook dominates the market with more than 1.7 billion mobile app users monthly. In mimicking Snapchat, Facebook is telling us that we’ll communicate with the camera, not the keyboard, in the future.

In January, David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, touted the new camera in an article that included a headline reading: “Camera as your keyboard.”

Last week, during announcement of the new features, Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager, wrote for the site, “Over the coming months, we plan to introduce new ways for the Facebook community to create their own frames and effects that can be used on any photo or video created with the new Facebook camera.

“Our goal is for the camera to be a home to hundreds of dynamic and fun effects that give you new ways to connect with friends, family, and your community. . . .”

As a marketer, it’s important to start developing a camera-first strategy and to explore ideas for frames and effects. Marketers at the big entertainment studios didn’t waste time getting their movie promos in front of Facebook’s core app users. An important note is that some of those users never migrated to Snapchat or Instagram and are part of an untapped market.

It’s only a matter of time before Facebook begins monetizing the new features. In January,  five-second photo and 15-second video ads started popping up between Instagram Stories. Soon, ad products will most likely be worked into Facebook Stories, making “Facebook the go-to place for brands and media companies to engage with the largest audience.”

For some time, Facebook has pushed users to create and share more visual content. Introduction of Facebook Live and the perks of posting videos natively encourage users to rely on visual, not text-based, communication.

Marketers, you have a prime opportunity to think of creative ways to use the new features to promote your brands and include camera-first communication in your overall marketing strategy.

Getting Started with Facebook Stories

Want to post your first Facebook Story? See how here: