What are YouTube stories?
In the past, YouTube introduced a feature called “Reels,” (later renamed into stories) which aimed to put a unique twist on the popular format by incorporating several notable differences. The Verge highlighted some of these distinctions:
YouTube decided to deviate from the conventional Stories approach in several ways. One significant departure is that videos uploaded as Reels do not disappear after 24 hours or a predetermined timeframe, as is the case with other platforms. Additionally, YouTube allows users to create multiple Reels, each with its own collection of video uploads. This sets it apart from platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, where temporary posts are typically part of a unified and centralized story.
So, what motivated YouTube to adopt this approach?
The driving factors behind YouTube Stories are community engagement, channel promotion, and overall site activity. Tech Crunch explains:
The concept behind YouTube Stories is to provide content creators with a convenient way to interact with their fans and followers between their more polished and meticulously produced video content. Today’s creators are no longer simply turning on a video camera and vlogging; they are producing professional-grade content that requires editing and extensive work before it is published.
YouTube’s objective seems to be encouraging the audience to visit the platform and engage with content creators continuously, rather than solely when new videos are posted. While some YouTubers create videos on a daily or weekly basis, others may have longer gaps between their releases. During these periods of inactivity, their audience often interacts with them through other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. By introducing the Stories feature, YouTube aims to eliminate this intermediary step and keep viewers returning to their platform on a daily basis.
End of an ill-fated feature
On June 26th, YouTube bid farewell to its ill-fated feature, YouTube Stories. Introduced in 2017, just before the announcement of “Reels” (now known as YouTube Shorts), YouTube Stories had its own unique twist. Unlike other platforms, the videos posted on YouTube Stories were temporary, vanishing into thin air after a week. However, there was a catch. Only users with a minimum of 10,000 subscribers had access to this feature.
The requirement of 10,000 subscribers proved to be a fatal blow for YouTube Stories. From the start, it struggled to gain traction and remained in beta mode throughout its existence. Frankly, I can’t recall a single instance in the past six years where any of the content creators I follow actually posted a YouTube Story. While YouTube Shorts have seen their fair share of popularity, the same cannot be said for Stories.
According to an announcement on the Google Support website, YouTube has decided to shift its focus to Shorts, long-form content, and live streaming. As a result, starting from June 26th, users will no longer be able to create new Stories on the platform. Not that many of you were utilizing the feature anyway. Any existing Stories that were published before the cutoff date will expire and automatically delete themselves after seven days, adhering to the previous protocol of YouTube Stories.
It seems that Google is aiming to enrich other parts of Youtube by killing off the Stories feature, with Community Posts and Shorts coming to mind first as potential benefactors of Stories being retired. Community Posts are a type of text-based update feature on the platform, which are also time limited. This gives creators the ability to make polls, quizzes, and images that will appear in a tab on channels and expire after a period of time.
Furthermore, the TikTok competitor, Youtube Shorts, has been on Youtube’s improvement list, as they’re trying to goad creators to make more short format content. Since February of this year, Youtube has started sharing ad revenue from Shorts in an effort to revamp its monetization plan but also encourage a creative approach to its feature.
While Youtube was not the first to adopt the Story format (initially popularized by Snapchat), it is the first one to get rid of the feature. With TikTok heavily scrutinized by the US government, and Meta managing to piss off creators on an almost daily basis, the timing for retiring Story and shifting focus on a short story format seems impeccable for Youtube.
Though, only time will tell whether this new push by Google and Youtube will catch on and make the platform more popular and more profitable in the long run.