Instagram is aiming to make the site more “flexible” and “fun” as it unveils new features that once again seem to copy rival Snapchat.
The first update brings live video to Instagram for the first time. It enables users and brands to broadcast live through its ‘Stories’ feature, with the videos disappearing once the user stops broadcasting.
It is also adding new functionality to its one-on-one messaging service ‘Direct’, adding temporary photos and videos. Direct has more than 300 million monthly users, with the update aiming to give them more control over private sharing.
The goal of both updates, according to the company, is to give users the “flexibility” to share in a “fun, low pressure way”.
Live video will begin testing today (21 November) ahead of a wider roll-out in the coming weeks.
Instagram first introduced stories in August and claims that they have had a big impact on engagement with the site. And at the start of the month it included new tools so people can add links and information within the content.
Speaking to Marketing Week at a recent event, Instagram’s head of brand development for EMEA Amy Cole explained how brands have been using it: “We have seen brands make use of the fact that you can message people through stories and they go straight into your direct messaging. Brands can use this to obtain feedback, for competitions or to privately ask for email addresses. It gives brands that extra flexibility.”
Both Instagram and Snapchat have taken to copying features from each other in a bid to boost their audiences and engagement with users and therefore attract brands and their ad dollars. While Instagram was accused of finding inspiration from Snapchat for its stories launch, Snapchat has since introduced similar features such as the ability to share a snap from one friend’s story to another and watch stories again.