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Instagram has released a set of new features aimed to encourage better engagement and participation with followers, especially when live streaming or creating Stories.

Countdowns

 

Do you have a big event, announcement, or live stream coming up? Now you can highlight it with an interactive countdown sticker in your Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve created the countdown and set the time limit, you can easily insert it in all your stories to remind your audience about important events or promotions. You can also use the stickers to raise awareness of a limited-time offer that is expiring soon.

Followers who see the countdown can also choose to follow it, which will ensure they receive a notification when the countdown is over.

Question Stickers

One of the biggest ways people like to use Instagram’s live videos is to answer viewer questions. The only problem is this can get a bit hard to follow when you have lots of viewers asking questions back to back. It can also be hard for new viewers to know what question is being answered.

Now, viewers can create and share question stickers during live streams to make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

The stickers are easily browsable for streamers to pick from. Once chosen, the question will be shown at the bottom of the screen so that viewers know what question you are answering. You can see an example below:

Both of these features are now available for both iOS and Android users. However, broadcasting live videos is only available currently on iOS. Android users can still view the streams and share questions.

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Instagram is coming up in the world. This week the social network revealed it has reached more than 1 billion monthly active users, jumping from 800 million in September of last year.

The extra 200 million users also make the site the fastest growing social network around right now by a fair amount.

For context, while Facebook remains the biggest social network overall, its growth in monthly users has fallen to just 3.14%. Snapchat, trapped by its own niche market of younger users, is growing even slower at 2.13%.

Instagram, however, continues to grow by almost 5% from quarter-to-quarter.

There is certainly some irony in the latest numbers. While Snapchat continues to stall, Instagram is largely making its gains on the back of similar features like Stories and image stickers.

Stories, in particular, have taken off to surprising popularity. According to the latest numbers, there are more people posting Stories on Instagram than Snapchat’s entire userbase.

The continued growth of Instagram also hints at Facebook’s gradual disconnect with younger users. Teens and other young social media users are adopting Instagram, rather than signing into Facebook.

The social network still has plenty of hurdles in its path, but their user growth shows it may be worthwhile to establish a business presence on the platform sooner rather than later.

The popular “Stories” feature that has expanded from its SnapChat origins into Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has always been known for its short-term lifespan. Stories have always been something that disappears sometime after sharing.

Now, Instagram is changing this with new ways to save and reshare your Stories long-after they’ve vanished from people’s feeds.

Instagram recently launched two updates to its Stories feature that gives users the ability to add Stories to its Archive feature and include Stories in the “Highlights” section of users’ profiles.

In a blog post, Instagram said that Stories will be automatically saved to users’ private Archives once they expire. From there, you can view or reshare your old Stories as a normal video post or add them to highlights.

The feature is turned on by default, but you can opt to turn off the Archive feature if you like.

Instagram explained, “To access the Stories in your Archive, tap the Archive icon on your profile. From there, you can easily switch between your Posts Archive and your new Stories Archive. In your Stories Archive, your stories will appear in a grid with the most recent Stories at the bottom. The first story from each day will show a date indicator to help you navigate your archive as you scroll. Only you can see your archived stories, and you can choose to turn off auto-archiving at any time in your profile settings.”

At the same time, Instagram has launched the new Stories Highlights section, where users can add Stories to their profiles.

Stories Highlights can be created by simply tapping on the New circle on the far-left side of the app. After that, just choose which Stories you want from your archives, select a cover for the Highlight, and give it a name.

Once that’s all done, the Highlights will appear as circles on your profile where they can be viewed.

You can add as many Highlights as you want, and they will remain on your profile until you delete them by tapping and holding on the circle.

In the blog post, Instagram said: “Over the past year, Instagram Stories has become a key part of how you express yourself—but there hasn’t been an easy way to keep your Stories around for more than 24 hours. Now you can more fully express your identity by grouping Stories you’ve shared into Highlights and featuring them on your profile. Story Highlights lets you show all of the sides of your personality, and you can make highlights out of anything you’ve shared to your story in the past. From the best moments of your ongoing soccer season to all the stories you capture of your loved ones, the interests and activities that matter most to you have a home right on your profile.”

Brands and marketers will likely find these new features provide a number of ways to make Stories a more powerful marketing tool. In an email to Social Pro Daily, Instagram suggested brands can take advantage of the tools by:

  • Extending campaigns and promotions beyond 24 hours.
  • Showcasing immersive video and behind-the-scenes content on the increasingly significant profile page.
  • Re-engaging people around best-performing Stories content.
  • Sharing customer reviews

Instagram Stories

In just five months Instagram Stories has grown into a force to be reckoned with, as the company has launched numerous new features like links, live video, and hands-free video recording. Now, the platform is working to make Stories more attractive to businesses with ads and insights for Stories.

According to Instagram’s own numbers, over 150 million users interact with Stories every day, with one in five Stories also receiving direct messages from viewers. The company also says 70% of users follow a business on Instagram and a third of the most viewed Stories are created and shared by businesses.

Now, the company has announced that ads and insights for Instagram Stories are coming soon.

Ads for Instagram Stories

For now, ads are limited to just 30 brands like Maybelline, New York, Nike, and Netflix, who have been given the ability to test a new 15-second, full-screen ads during Instagram Stories.  If you want to see what the ads might look like, check out how Airbnb is using ads in Instagram Stories:

 

Insights for Instagram Stories

In addition to the testing of ads for Instagram Stories, Insights will also be available as part of Instagram  Business Tools. Anyone with a business account can now view impressions, reach, replies, and exits for all their stories within Business Tools. You can see a preview of Insights for Stories below:

 


These new features are expected to roll out globally in the new couple of weeks, so keep your eyes out.

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Instagram’s live video feature is officially available to all 70 million US users. After announcing the feature in late November, the social imaging platform has announced the feature is available across America and will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.

While it may be tempting to compare Instagram’s live video streaming to Facebook’s growing live feature, it is actually more similar to the live options available through Snapchat.

With Instagram’s live video, users can broadcast to followers in real time through Instagram Stories. However, once the stream is over it is completely gone. There is no saving or replaying old broadcasts. They disappear as soon as you end the broadcast.

How To Get Started Broadcasting

To get started streaming, you just have to follow a couple easy steps.

  • Tap the camera icon in the top left of the screen or swipe right from the Feed to open your camera.
  • Tap the new Live icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Start Live Video.
  • Once you are ready to end your stream, just tap End in the top right.

Broadcasts can last up to one hour and you can choose to notify your followers when you go live. The number in the top right corner of the screen shows just how many followers are watching, and you can pin or share comments to others by tapping and holding it. You can also turn off comments entirely if you desire.

Marketing with Instagram Live Video

The idea of marketing your business through live video that immediately disappears may seem unattractive at first. Why bother with vanishing video when you can spend time crafting marketing campaigns that last, right?

However, live video can actually be a great way to make followers feel like they are in on exclusive events and information. The function is especially great for letting your customers and fans see special engagements like product launches or milestones for your business.

You can also use live video to engage your audience in new ways with impromptu interviews or Q&A sessions that help your followers learn more about who you are and why they should be invested in your brand.

For more info on Instagram’s live video feature, check out the video below:

Instagram is launching a new feature, but many are saying the new feature seems inspired by another popular social photo app – Snapchat. The new feature called Instagram Stories lets users and brands share a collection of moments that disappear after 24 hours.

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If that sounds familiar, it is because the feature is very similar to Snapchat Stories. Not only does it allow users to easily package their best moments of a day into one easy-to-view collection, but Instagram Stories also includes the ability to draw on photos or videos to make them even more exciting.

“With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about over-posting,” an Instagram rep told AdWeek.

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The new feature is already available on iOS and Android mobile operating systems. It can be found at the top of Instagram feeds, where you can either share your own stories or tap icons to look at what others have shared in the past day.

Unlike most Instagram videos, clips included in stories are limited to 10 seconds. There are also no likes or comments on stories.

For now Instagram isn’t saying whether marketers will be able to take advantage of stories by promoting them like normal posts, however, businesses can still use the feature to engage with the community and build recognition for their brand and products.