All posts in “Instagram Stories”

PSA: Those Instagram Story emoji sliders will snitch on your ass

Beware the emoji slider!
Beware the emoji slider!

Image: damon beres via instagram

Here’s a hot tip: If you vote in one of those emoji slider polls your friends may be posting to Instagram Stories — to gauge how cute a dog is, say — your friends will absolutely be notified of your answer. 

There is no anonymity here.

Take, for example, a recent emoji slider on my own Instagram Story:

Image: Damon Beres via instagram

Image: Damon Beres via instagram

My friend Rebecca decided this dog was extremely — almost comically — low on the “yas???” scale.

Her defense? “I didn’t know you could see individual responses.”

You sure can.

This is becoming tale as old as time for the internet’s favorite photo-sharing and data-collection platform. You can already see exactly who viewed your Instagram Story, and who took a screenshot, so of course you can see how your friends fiddled with that emoji knob. 

And, in fairness, maybe that’s the whole point. Not all emoji slides are created equal: I respect Rebecca’s opinion more than most, so I’ll take her vote to heart and throw this dog in the garbage.

(Kidding! I’m kidding. It’s not even mine.)

Still, remember this the next time you’re tempted to dunk on a friend’s charred brunch frittata or whatever: They’ll know it’s you. And given Facebook’s track record with this sort of thing — they own Instagram, don’t you know? — it’s possible this will come back to haunt you decades down the line, when The Dog Beings from Beyond have ascended as the ruling caste and their secret paw police (or whatever) are doing background checks to see who lives and who gets shipped off to, like, the kibble factory.

Think carefully about your choices, is all we’re saying.

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Instagram is proof shameless copying pays off

Instagram's constant copying is really paying off.
Instagram’s constant copying is really paying off.

Image: vicky leta/mashable

The best way to beat your biggest competitor is to straight-up copy them. 

That may go against everything they teach you in business school, but that’s the lesson we can draw from the past two years Instagram has spent relentlessly copying Snapchat.

It’s been almost two years since Facebook gave up building its own Snapchat clones and instead announced Instagram had simply created its own version of Snapchat’s signature feature.

Since then, Instagram has gone on to unabashedly copy a whole bunch of other features, from face filters to disappearing messages. It now happens so routinely, in fact, that we’re legit surprised when the app introduces an original feature not lifted directly from Evan Siegel’s playbook. 

And while Spiegel may prefer to call out Facebook for the privacy features it hasn’t copied, that doesn’t change the fact that this strategy has proved to be unbelievably successful. 

With 300 million daily users, Instagram Stories isn’t just more popular than the entirety of Snapchat, but Facebook now predicts its many versions of Stories will soon be more popular than Facebook’s News Feed — a format the social media giant actually invented. 

Worse for Snapchat, Instagram’s increasing dominance has coincided with lagging user growth and the departure of influential users like Kylie Jenner. (Instagram can’t take all the credit here — Snapchat’s unpopular and clumsily rolled-out redesign was an unforced error that hurt Snap as much as it helped Instagram.)

Instagram shows no sign of slowing down, either. And really, why should it when the current strategy is going so well. This week, the company announced that it was doubling down on ads in Stories.

Elsewhere, developer Jane Won discovered Instagram appears to be testing a feature for adding longer videos to Stories, which, naturally, looks remarkably similar to Snapchat’s version of the feature. 

Next week the company is set to host an event where it’s rumored to be launching its own version of Snapchat’s media hub, Discover. The as-yet-unnamed Instagram feature will reportedly include content from influential users and publishers as well as videos up to an hour long. The app could also announce that it’s finally reached that 1 billion user milestone, which would pour extra salt on the wound for Snapchat.

There are still important differences between the two platforms, by the way. Snap’s focus on creativity and augmented reality is an important selling point for the app, whose AR filters are still better than Instagram’s. Snap Maps is still one of the best discovery portals on social media (though Instagram says it’s redesigning its own Explore tab, so don’t be surprised if they incorporate a map in some way).

For users, the copying might feel old or impolitic, but for as much eye-roll emojis as the updates inspire, Instagram just keeps getting bigger, which in turn validates the strategy.

And no matter what side you fall down on, it’s hard to argue with the bigger lesson: sometimes straight-up copying is enough.

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With new shoppable stories, get ready to spend all your money on Instagram

It was only a matter of time.

On Tuesday, Instagram announced the introduction of shoppable stories. Now, brands can tag their stories with the specific products featured in them. Then, when ‘grammers click on the tag, they can see more information about the product on Instagram, which includes a link to the brand’s website to buy.

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Instagram first introduced in-feed shopping in November 2016. It further rolled out a more robust version of that feature in March 2017, including business analytics. Most recently, in May 2018, Instagram debuted “action buttons,” which allow users to do things like buy tickets or make restaurant reservations directly on businesses’ profiles. Shoppable stories are just the next step in making every piece of delicate jewelry, glass of sparkling rosé, or pair minimalist sneakers that appear on the app available to buy — immediately.

Instagram says these shopping options are all about turning “discovery into action.” And with Instagram’s focus on beautiful photos and aspirational lifestyle,  shopping on Instagram makes a whole lot of sense. It removes almost all the barriers between seeing something enticing that represents the literally picture-perfect life you want to lead, and turning that impulse into cash. 

Clicking on the briefcase reveals the tagged products.

Clicking on the briefcase reveals the tagged products.

Image: instagram

The product details page includes a link to buy.

The product details page includes a link to buy.

Image: instagram

Instagram debuted ephemeral stories in August 2016, a format it outright stole from Snapchat. But now, Instagram story use is crushing Snapchat, and stories have become an increasingly dominant way that people are using the app. Up from 200 million daily active users in April 2017, Instagram now reports reports that 300 million people use Instagram stories every day. Hot damn.

Monetizing those interactions could be huge for businesses. Especially since up to this point, story creation just might not have been worth it. With filters, stickers, tags, and the need for a narrative (and not just a single, ad-like image), Mashable reported in May that story creation is cumbersome for some brands. Making stories shoppable gives brands more incentive to invest that time in the app.

Mashable has asked Instagram whether it takes any commission on in-app purchases, and will update this story if and when we hear back. But either way, getting brands to invest more time and money in the app is good for business.

UPDATE 6/12/2018, 1:15 p.m. ET: When asked about whether Instagram would take a commission on in-app purchases, Instagram said: “Instagram does not charge businesses for Shopping capabilities.”

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Instagram adds shopping tags directly into Stories

Instagram’s shoppable tags are about to pop up in Stories. The company first started testing the feature back in 2016 with a limited set of 20 partners. Since then it’s been a hit, expanding broadly to regular brand posts in the feed. Starting today, hitting a little shopping bag sticker in a Story will lead you to more details on the cute and/or dope thing that caught your eye and how to score it.

It’s a simple addition, but given the success of Stories it’s a potent one for brands that drive sales on the platform.

“With 300M using Instagram Stories everyday, people are increasingly finding new products from brands they love,” Instagram said in a press release.

“In a recent survey, Instagrammers said they often watch stories to stay in the-know with brands they’re interested in, get an insider view of products they like, and find out about new products that are relevant to them.”

As a longtime daily Instagram user, I used to be skeptical that people really engaged with brands like this and not just their friends or dogs they know. Now, after seeing my fiancée’s considerable #engagement around makeup brands running wildly popular accounts, Stories and all, I get it. Well, I don’t get it, but I get that some people get it and that the often vast and expertly crafted brand Stories are a logical evolution for a platform trying to get more users buying more stuff in the product categories that call to them.

Instagram update lets you re-share Stories posts from friends — but there’s a catch

Instagram will let you re-share Stories posts ... as long as you're tagged in them.
Instagram will let you re-share Stories posts … as long as you’re tagged in them.

Image: lili sams/mashable

Instagram just added one of its most-requested features to Stories: the ability to re-share a post from friends.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the feature is limited to posts you’ve been tagged in — you won’t be able to just re-share any Stories posts to your own account.

Still, the feature should be welcome news to Instagram fans who’ve long relied on a various assortment of third-party apps to repurpose other users’ Instagram posts. 

Here’s how the new Stories feature works: When a friend tags you in their Story, you’ll get the same notification you’ve gotten in the past, which lets you view the image or video in your Direct inbox. 

But now, when you view the post you were tagged in, you’ll also see the option to add it to your own Story for a 24-hour period.

Image: instagram

Interestingly, Stories you re-share this way will look a little different than the original post. Choosing to re-share generates a sticker version of the Story, meaning you can remix it with your own stickers, GIFs, and other additions.

Re-shared Stories posts will link back to the original account that posted them, and the feature will only be available to public-facing accounts in order to respect users’ existing privacy settings.

Limited though the feature is, the update is the first time Instagram has acknowledged the desire to re-share posts with an official feature. Though there have been clues that the company has tested an official “regram” button, Instagram has so far resisted a feature that would let users re-share content more widely.

The new Stories feature is available now in the latest version of Instagram’s iOS and Android app.

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