- Instagram is adding three new features to its video messaging Stories platform: “Boomerang,” user mentions and links, according to a company blog post.
- Boomerang converts a series of still images into what is essentially a GIF that loops forwards and backwards; mentions allow users to tag profile names in Stories that then link back to that profile; links to Stories is only available for verified accounts for now, but lets users dig deeper into a profile's content.
- Stories, which launched in August and has accrued over 100 million daily active users since, is often seen as a blatant Snapchat copycat down to its name, so the new features could help distinguish the service in the social video space.
As ephemeral social video messaging becomes more ubiquitous, platforms providing the service need to make their content models more distinctive. Snapchat recently upped its AR capabilities through 'world lenses,' and Facebook-owned Instagram seems to gunning for a more social, sharable angle with the Stories upgrades.
The new features potentially present strong opportunities for brands on Instagram: Boomerang offers marketers a new content format to play with — the product looks a lot like GIFs, which are a solid source of short entertainment — and the mentions tool might be a better way to personalize 1:1 consumer conversations on posts, as people mentioned receive notifications.
But the most powerful marketing tool might be the ability to add deep dive links to Stories for verified accounts. It could be useful for verified brands to build a longer narrative for campaigns, and could also extend to influencers who promote products through the site.