Our social media guy explains Facebook’s Snapchat-type tool

Ben Watanabe is The Herald’s social media news producer.

Ben Watanabe is The Herald’s social media news producer.

Ben Watanabe is The Herald’s social media news producer.

Know what a producer is?

Many people don’t. They associate the term producer with broadcast news, not newspapers.

Ben puts print news into social media lingo and onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He writes and curates copy so it doesn’t look bot-ish (done by a robot).

In other words, we don’t do it with a bot, we do it with a Ben.

It is a fairly new position in newsrooms. Ben, a 29-year-old Everett native, was hired on at The Herald a year ago, after five years in print at a weekly paper.

He’s the go-to guy when reporters and editors have questions, such as “How can I make my Facebook post read better?” and “What can I do to get more Twitter followers?”

(OK, so maybe a few of us have gone to him with dilemmas about which Snapchat filter works best: Dog ears with the slurping tongue or bunny ears with the rosy cheeks?)

Ben recently got all excited about this newfangled thing called Facebook Stories.

We figured we’d let him explain it.

Where is Facebook Stories?

Facebook Stories is only available, at least for now, on the Facebook mobile app. You might need to update to the latest version of the app to get it. When you open the app on your smartphone, “Your Story” is at the top of the screen.

What can it do?

Facebook Stories creates short clips, either photo or video, that can be strung together and edited with filters (those bunny ears, face swaps and funky sunglasses vids and pics you see are filters). It’s a running snapshot of what you’re doing and seeing in a day. Filters seem to be one of the sticking points for which service people use, and Snapchat has some of the best, most playful and weirdest.

How do I do it?

Just tap the “Your Story” icon at the top or swipe right to access the camera feature in the app (again, if it is available to you).

Why do we need it?

Need is probably an overstatement of its utility. We have it because Snapchat, the most prominent social media app that capitalized on this function, has a massive daily user base, something in the 150 million range. Facebook sees a function it can provide to its even more massive daily user base, something in the 1.2 billion range. Once the social media giant rolled out a Snapchat-like feature a while back to its other product, Instagram, the writing was on the wall that Facebook would get something similar.

People don’t engage in text posts and shared links the same way they did back in 2004, or, heck, even when they did in 2014. Video seems to reign supreme, and this is a way for Facebook users to do so without signing up for a new service or app.

Uhhh… what’s Snapchat?

Snapchat is a visual-based app. Your children and grandchildren probably use it a lot. That was one of the first apps to catch on that had filters, visual effects over your selfie to give you rabbit ears, impeccable skin tone and glittering eyes, or swap faces with someone (or something). It has disappearing posts, either after you send it to another Snapchat user or after 24 hours of publishing it to your story. Here at The Herald, we used it meeting Pokemon GO trainers and during Donald J. Trump’s visit to Everett during the presidential election. More often than not, it’s an innocuous message service for the web team.

If we shoot embarrassing videos on Facebook Stories, will they disappear or can we keep them forever?

They disappear after 24 hours if published to the story and after two views if sent directly to someone. But if you like it after you make a short video or put together the most excellently edited and filtered photo, you can save it with a tap of the download arrow in the Facebook Story function, before and after you publish it. That saves it to your camera roll, bunny ears, rosy cheeks and all.

What are some social media tips for those who grew up in the typewriter age?

The best social media posts have to be easily understood because of their time limit. Brevity is the soul of wit. Make it clear and concise. In general, the best social media photos are going to be close to the subject of the image. That means move your feet and get close to whatever you’re photographing or videographing. Oh, and definitely ask your child or grandchild before posting pictures of them.

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