Uh Oh: Slack Is Getting Stories Now, Too
Slack has seen user numbers soar during the pandemic, and during this time, sought to adapt and grow to serve remote workers. The Verge has reported that the platform plans to add two new features, including an “Instagram-like stories” feature and push-to-talk audio.
Slack’s stories are intended to add a new dimension to check-ins and announcements made on the platform, rather than a way to chronicle food and travel (“It’s a little bit more of a human way of giving updates,” Slack’s CEO told The Verge.) But it’s also the latest example of the stories format invading another platform. YouTube allows creators with more than 10,000 followers to make their own stories. LinkedIn is testing out its own stories feature in some countries.There’s even a version on Pinterest now. It’s a sign of how successful Instagram’s story feature, itself originally inspired by Snapchat, has been. But how many versions of stories in our lives do we need?
The main goal for many platforms today is engagement, which increases the time we spend on the apps. If we have stories on top of posts, images, and longer-format videos, we view more ads and make the company more money. But, for influencers and brands, it adds another box that must be constantly checked to keep up posting on multiple platforms. And for the casual user, it can feel like the platform is losing what made it special. While Instagram was once a place known for sharing images, it now has long-form videos, lives, expiring short stories, and short-format videos. While some of those features have seamlessly integrated into the user experience, the newest one, Reels (created to compete with TikTok, the way Stories were created to compete with Snapchat) still feels like an awkward add-on with little promise. What makes someone good on Instagram does not necessarily translate to short-format videos, and visa-versa.
The more obvious lesson from this is that, while these platforms glom on new features to ensnare current users, they’re doing little to attract new ones. With an overwhelming hodgepodge of offerings, is it little wonder Facebook use is trailing among Gen Z? But Slack’s choice to add stories also speaks to a more insidious trend. As platforms like LinkedIn and Slack mimic other social platforms, we are looking at a future where we are increasingly forced to perform the kind of social sharing we do in our private lives for our employers and co-workers. The ease of communication in platforms like Slack has led some to criticize it for turning the workday into one endless meeting. With increased social features, it could turn it into an endless Instagram scroll, too.