They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Snapchat must still be blushing then after the latest Instagram features rolled out — updates that seem to be direct replications of the core features of Snapchat.
Related: How to switch your account to Instagram for Business.
With these new updates to Instagram and Instagram Stories, marketers are working to figure out which channel suits them best and from which channel they’ll see a bigger ROI.
Users and businesses are still waiting for Snapchat analytics, while Instagram began offering analytics and business profiles to users earlier this year. While Instagram continues to cater to the needs of marketers and users, Snapchat is holding strong to its fundamental setup.
A lot has happened to Instagram in recent months, and keeping track of all the changes is no easy feat, which is why we’re doing it for you. We’ve recapped Instagram’s biggest changes in the last few months in one easy place as it continues to battle for its place amongst the most popular social channels.
With just a couple easy taps, users can now shop some of their favorite products right from Instagram. Brands like Kate Spade, Target, and J Crew are currently utilizing the new taggable feature in their organic posts within their Instagram feed.
Posts that have tagged products in them have a shopping bag icon in the bottom left corner of the image in the user’s feed. Clicking on that shopping bag brings up price points on the items available for purchase. Users can click on the price, which will take them directly to the business’s website where the items can be purchased.
While this feature is still just in beta mode and only available to a handful of retailers, the option could soon be rolled out to more users, as well as in ads and Instagram’s Explore section, James Quarles, Instagram’s Vice President of monetization, said in this Adweek article.
Instagram is catering more and more to retailers — an area Snapchat has not stepped into yet. In May, the platform also rolled out dynamic ads that targeted users with ads featuring product they’d abandoned in a shopping cart on the retailer’s website.
Mentions & Links in Stories
If you don’t happen to be one of the few retailers given the taggable feature, don’t worry. Instagram didn’t forget about you completely. The app now allows all users to tag other users, as well as provide links within an Instagram Story and create and upload Boomerangs in stories.
Brands are utilizing the tagging feature to create user-generated content for their Instagram stories.
Brands like Starbucks have been utilizing the tagging feature to create user-generated content for their Instagram stories, sourcing images from followers and tagging the user in the photos used to create their stories.
If mentioned or tagged in a story by a brand or another user, users are then able to tap the mention and be directed to the users’ profile. The tagged user will also be notified when they’ve been tagged in an Instagram Story video.
While links are only available to verified users, they offer an easy way to send people directly to a site through their Instagram Story. When a link is added into a story, it gives the users the option to see more at the bottom of the story, which takes the user to the specific link within the Instagram app.
Disappearing Videos and Live Streaming
Snapchat may be the app of choice for users when capturing that in-the-moment video or image, but Instagram is hoping to change that with its new Live feature.
Some users now have the option, when posting to the story, to post a live streaming video instead of a video, image, or Boomerang. This feature will be rolling out to all users in the coming weeks, but to see if you have the option to live stream, go to your story to add something to it, and at the bottom you should have the option for Normal, Boomerang, or Live. The only catch is, unlike Facebook Live and Periscope, the video disappears after a user is done live streaming.
Live stories will appear in the top of the app with the rest of stories. Some users will even receive notifications when someone they follow is live (based on an algorithm that determines which followers are most likely to be interested). If a user has post notifications for an account turned on, they’ll also receive alerts when someone goes Live. Live videos will also appear in the Instagram app’s “Explore” section.
Instagram new Live feature is trying to overtake Snapchat for capturing that in-the-moment video or image.
The other disappearing act Instagram also recently rolled out is disappearing messages to an individual user or group through direct messages. Much like Snapchat, users will be notified if someone replayed or took a screen shot of their photo or video.
Likes and Disabled Comments
Although we like to think of comments on photos and videos as a means of communication, not all of them are always pleasant or welcome. To help combat those unwanted comments, Instagram is now allowing users to disable comments on photos and videos posted in the app.
While some comments aren’t always welcome, others deserve some kind of award for their witty and thoughtful remarks. Now, those comments can be rewarded by liking the comment. A feature users have long awaited, no longer do you have to respond to someone through the comments to let them know you like or agree with what they’re saying, you can simply like their comment.
Though some have deemed 2016 as the year they’d like to forget, we like to think of it as the year Instagram stepped up its game. If history is any indication of the outlook on 2017, we can’t wait to see what the platform has up its sleeve next year.