Instagram is adding three new features to Stories in what they are calling the biggest update to Stories since its launch.
Starting today the company will let creators add URL links to their stories that viewers can navigate to without leaving Instagram, add the ability for users to be “@ mentioned” in someone’s story, and add the ability to add a Boomerang to your story without having to go create one in the separate Boomerang app.
First and most importantly, Instagram will now let creators add navigable URL links to their stories – meaning viewers can tap a button and instantly be taken to whatever website the creator wants to send them to.
When tapped, this button will open up a browser within Instagram that automatically navigates to whatever website or page the creator has specified.
Creators will add a link at the same time they are creating the Story – after capturing a video or picture there will be a button to add the link – just like there are already buttons to add text or a drawing to a Story.
But Instead of actually showing the URL (which could have created a cluttered experience), Instagram will add a “See More” button to the bottom of any story that has a link added to it. This will keep the photo itself free of ugly links, while still letting users navigate to the link with just one click.
While this does mean users won’t actually see the link they are going to before they click it, Instagram will be blocking inappropriate links, just like they already do with links in profiles.
At launch this feature will only be available to verified Instagram accounts. While there’s a chance it may eventually expand all users, Instagram currently won’t say if or when this will ever happen.
Expect to see this tool used by professional creators who want to direct users to consume content they have created on other platforms, like a video on YouTube or song on SoundCloud. Or celebrities and retailers using Links to direct users to purchase something on an e-commerce site. You’ll also probably see media properties use Links to direct users to read articles on their own website.
The addition of Links is sure to satisfy brands who want to promote products, and creators who need to promote their others social channels.
One of the biggest gripes with Snapchat is that creators can’t add links to their Snaps and Stories, meaning their viewers are stuck inside the Snapchat ecosystem. This makes it extremely hard for creators (and brands) to monetize. Creators may now be more inclined to start using Instagram Stories over Snapchat Stories, since they can link viewers out to their own sites.
Plus, it allows Instagram to sidestep the issue of not allowing links inside actual Instagram pictures in the feed, which is something brands and creators have long complained about. Currently only ads can contain links to websites in the Instagram feed.
The second feature Instagram is adding to Stories today is Mentions. The feature will let creators use @ to “tag” any other Instagram user in their story.
Here’s how it works:
After taking a picture or video for a story users can tap to add text, and instead of typing a message they just type @, followed by someone’s Instagram username. And just like in comments and captions, Instagram will autocomplete their username.
Once “tagged”, the username will be underlined and tappable in the story. When tapped, the tag will take users to the profile of whoever is tagged in the picture. And also like comments and captions, users will receive a notification if they are tagged in the story of someone they follow. If they are tagged in a story by someone they don’t follow, it will show up in their “requests” folder.
You will able to tag up to 10 people in one Story. But remember that you’ll have to actually add everyone’s username in a text box, which could mean that lots of usernames will clutter up your picture or video.
Unlike Links, Mentions will be available to all users.
The last feature is that Instagram is adding Boomerang, its stand-alone app that creates one-second video loops, to Instagram Stories. So when you go to create a new story you can just swipe from “normal” (which lets you capture photos or videos) to Boomerang mode, and capture a Boomerang. Previously users had to leave Instagram Stories and navigate to Boomerang’s stand-alone app.
Interestingly, Instagram is only adding the ability to create Boomerangs to Stories, and not regular Instagram. This means if you want to add a Boomerang to your Instagram feed you’ll still need to use their separate app.
These features launch today, and besides Links (which is now only available to verified users) you can start playing with them today.