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The Skinny on How to Make the Most of Facebook Stories

By now, you probably have a glancing familiarity with Facebook Stories, a new feature launched by the social media giant a few weeks ago to rival the Snapchat app. If you’re scratching your head and wondering how to use Facebook Stories to your advantage, you’re not alone.

A recent article published on CNN did a great job of exploring the ins and outs of Facebook Stories. Since we had a number of “a-ha!” moments when we read the story, we thought it would be a good idea to touch on some of the highlights. Following are three things you need to know, plus a word of advice from the article’s millennial subject matter experts. Enjoy.

1. What is a Facebook Story? Simply stated, a Story is a collection of videos and photos from the previous day and is separate from your newsfeed photos and videos. To create a Story, you start with one image, then add a cartoon or text overlay for context, repeating as often as you’d like throughout the course of the day. All clips added in the past day are shown as one continuous stream which then disappears after 24 hours.

2. How do I create a Story? In the top left corner of the Facebook app you’ll find a new camera button. To create a Story, tap the button and then use the magic wand icon to add graphics, text, drawings and animations. Holding the big button down enables you to shoot video; tap it once and you have photo. (You can also import existing photos and videos.) When you’re finished, tap the giant arrow, select “Your Story” from the list of contacts, and send.

3. What generally goes into a Story? According to CNNTech production assistant Lisa Fischer, Stories should consist of images and videos that are “interesting or funny in the moment but not long-term interesting enough to post as… on Instagram.” CNNTech multi-platform editor Ramy Zabarah adds, “A good story should either be interesting, funny, or both. I prefer funny, so creative use of the filters and lenses, witty captions, or absurd things caught on the subway or street.”

Ready to get started? Not so fast. There’s a selfie caveat to Facebook Stories: “Don’t post too many selfies or you’ll seem like a narcissist,” says Fischer. And if you can’t resist a selfie-based Story? “Do it with a filter so people think you’re being tongue-in-cheek,” she advises.

One last tip: Skip the sound (Facebook Stories are designed to be a visual medium) and always — always — shoot vertically. Why? Stories live only on smartphones (they’re not viewable on desktop). Still not convinced? Zabarah puts it this way: “I will literally quit your story if you post a horizontal video.” And Fischer echoes that sentiment. “I’ll turn my head before I turn my phone,” she agrees.

This article is excerpted from “How to Use Facebook Stories” published on CNN tech April 3, 2017.

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