- Instagram added several features to help users of the photo-sharing app stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic. Its new media sharing feature lets people look at Instagram posts while sharing a video chat session, per a blog post.
- Instagram users can start a live chat by tapping a video chat icon in the app's Direct inbox for messages from other users, or in an existing Direct discussion thread. The video chat lets people view saved, liked and suggested posts by tapping a photo icon at the bottom left corner of a chat session, per the post.
- In addition, Instagram added a "Stay Home" sticker that people can use to share posts to a collective story about social distancing, and a donation sticker for people who are looking for nonprofit groups to support. Instagram's update includes more educational content about the coronavirus in Instagram Search and digital stickers to promote accurate information. Instagram also is removing COVID-19 accounts from recommended posts unless they're from a credible health organization, per its blog.
Instagram's update includes a mix of features aimed at helping people to connect while in isolation and also encourages the sharing of accurate information about the coronavirus. The media sharing feature that lets people view Instagram posts in video chat sessions is the most notable addition to Instagram, making it more like other messaging apps such as FaceTime, Skype, Snapchat, WeChat and WhatsApp.
With the media-sharing feature, Instagram can provide a more engaging user experience (UX) that likely will prolong the time that people spend in the app, which mostly had been limited to viewing posts in a news feed or sending direct messages. That improved engagement can help mobile marketers and social influencers prolong the exposure to their organic and promoted posts as Instagram users share them while chatting.
By removing COVID-19 accounts that don't come from a credible health organization and urging users to share accurate information about coronavirus, Instagram's parent company Facebook can help to defuse criticism that its platforms spread misinformation about "miracle cures" and other false claims. The company has tried to crack down on coronavirus spam, although its algorithms inadvertently removed posts that contained news and information from legitimate news sources, The Verge reported. Facebook last week restored posts that had been removed because of a bug in its anti-spam software, Guy Rosen, VP of integrity at the company, said in a tweet. Rosen has provided ongoing updates about the company's efforts to support public safety.
Instagram's updates come as social networks experience a surge in activity as people use the platforms to stay connected during the pandemic .Campaign impressions on Instagram rose 22% in Q1 from the prior quarter, and by 27% on viral video app TikTok in March from the prior month, per data from influencer marketing firm Obviously cited by Campaign. However, it's not clear whether those increased impressions will drive revenue for social networks, as advertisers postpone or cancel campaigns as business activity stalls. Twitter this week warned that the coronavirus had negatively affected its ad revenue even as usage surged.