Meta Gets Collaborative

Meta wants you to get over posting anxiety.

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Sharing is caring. And according to Meta, that counts for social media, too. 

The company wants to patent a system for “collaborative stories.” As the name implies, this tech allows users to add multiple other users to be collaborators on a shared story, enabling anyone invited to share photos and videos to it. 

These story posts are viewable to anyone that follows any of the accounts that are collaborators. Users can also follow the collaborative stories themselves, and can request to collaborate. Meta said this helps users gain access to a “larger audience than any single user may reach.” If a user’s account is private, they are notified before posting to the story that their content can be viewed publicly. 

The Facebook and Instagram parent company noted that this feature is helpful for users’ shared topics, events and experiences. For example, if a group of friends take a trip together, those users can create a shared story that they all add to throughout the trip, so that they don’t need to tag one another in story posts, and don’t need to all repost the same images to their own story. Or if a group of users all have dogs, they may start a collaborative story to show off their pets, and users can request to be collaborators if that shared story gains traction. 

The company also said this feature could help users feel less nervous about posting, as it circumvents the “one-to-many relationship” of conventional social media platforms. “Users may wish to share content, but may be hesitant to share content by themselves, in some examples discouraging users from creating and sharing content at all,” Meta noted. 

Photo via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

This isn’t Meta’s first attempt at getting users to work together. The company launched a collaborative posting feature in late 2021 that allows two users to create feed posts and reels together, so that the same photo surfaces to the top of each user’s profile. Adding this capability to story posts – and expanding it to allow more than just two users – could be the platform’s next addition to its collaboration tools. 

There could be a few reasons Meta is trying to cultivate a more collective experience, one of which the company notes in the filing: Posting on Instagram can be intimidating, and “individual users may be fearful of judgment when sharing content,” Meta noted. The less users post, the less engagement the platform as a whole gets. 

And while this tech isn’t explicitly a copycat of any TikTok feature, the company is constantly fighting for relevance against the short-form video behemoth. Collaboration could be its plan to break down the barrier of posting anxiety and boost engagement as a whole.

Another potential reason for this tech, however, is brand partnerships. Instagram has long been working on features to facilitate brand-to-creator collaborations. Adding a way for brands to work with a creator on stories just gives both parties another tool in the toolbox (and another reason to pick Instagram over rival platforms like TikTok). 

All this said, collaboration tools are likely just a piece of the much larger engagement puzzle: Holding onto user engagement in any form it comes is vital to feed the beast that is Meta’s digital advertising business. 

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