Instagram Stories

For the second time in as many weeks, Instagram is making it easier for marketers to sell on the platform.

Today, the image-sharing platform will begin letting verified account-holders add links to Instagram Stories. This means, for example, that a brand can share an image of a product, then add a link to the product’s purchase page; or, a media outlet can share a behind-the-scenes image from an event or photoshoot, then add a link to the corresponding story.

The links will appear as a “See More” option at the bottom of images and videos shared through Stories, which is the 24-hour disappearing feature that Instagram added in August, and is considered the platform’s answer to rival Snapchat. Already, Stories has more than 100 million daily active users.

This update is a test that is available today to all verified accounts. Verified accounts, indicated by a checkmark in a blue circle on an account, were introduced two years ago to confirm account-holders were who they said they were, such as celebrities or official brand accounts. There is currently no “official” process to submit one’s account for verification, Sharp said.

Instagram product manager Nathan Sharp said that he sees deep application in the worlds of fashion, retail and media. In addition to the obvious value in being able to add a mobile link to a product, it can aid in a brand’s storytelling by adding a call to action to learn more, or take a “deeper dive” into an article, he said.

The links in Instagram Stories follow the same rules as links in profile bios, with regards to illicit content, but Instagram users are still not able to add links to traditional Instagram posts. Just last week, Instagram began slowly testing a feature that lets brands add product details and outside links in special shopping posts, but this pilot is limited to a small group of fashion brands and appears only when a user clicks on a tagged item’s details page.

Sharp said that the thinking was that this implementation optimized “for narrative form” by facilitating a smooth and coherent experience.

Additionally today, as part of Instagram update for iPhones, for Android and for Windows 10, Instagram is adding two new tools for Stories that are available to all account-holders: mentions and Boomerang.

Sharp said that users had already begun tagging people with text in Instagram Stories. Now, those mentions, indicated with the @ symbol and a username, can become official links to the account-holder, much like in an Instagram post’s caption or comment. This means, for instance, that a fashion blogger can share an outfit on an Instagram Story, then tag each brand she is wearing.

Finally, on the Boomerang front, Instagram is adding the ability to make a Boomerang, which is a popular repetitive video effect, directly within Stories. Previously this capability was only possible using an outside app.

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