Starting today and rolling out to users in the next few weeks, Instagram will let users share live video in Instagram Stories and also let users send direct messages with disappearing images and videos — taking a page from the Snapchat playbook.
The videos shared on Instagram Live can be up to an hour long and the content will immediately disappear afterward. An Instagram spokeswoman said people who follow a user may get a notification when that account goes live. Notifications will go to people who interact more closely with that account and are more likely to tune in.
Instagram is also adding a disappearing option for images and videos sent through its messaging tool, Instagram Direct. With the update, an Instagram account can send disappearing content to any user, or group of users, that follows them. The images disappear after a user has viewed them, and, as with Snapchat, the sender is notified if the recipient replays or screenshots the content.
This follows a number of updates from Instagram that compete with Snapchat and piggyback on parent-company Facebook. In August, Instagram added Stories, which are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The feature already has 100 million daily users. Direct, after being updated last year, now has about 300 million monthly users.
Live video has been a buzzy offering from platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Twitter’s version, Periscope, lets users live-stream content on Twitter and imbed it in an outside web site. Benefit Cosmetics, for example, has used it to share Q&A and makeup tutorials, Ralph Lauren has used it to stream a fashion show and Target created a live commercial with Gwen Stefani during the Grammys.
Since opening up Facebook Live to all users in April, the social network has been promoting tutorials that show people how to use it and has been encouraging media outlets to stream content. For example, Elle magazine and Ashley Graham used it at New York Fashion Week, Refinery29 streamed from the Cartier mansion and Vogue streamed from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala.
Glow Recipe founder Sarah Lee, in speaking at WWD’s Los Angeles Digital Summit, said the shift in social media has reflected an overall desire for authenticity — an approach that lends itself to live video and candid, less-than-perfect disappearing content. In speaking with video blogger Jenn Im, who prefers YouTube, she said that the concept of “let me show you” transitioned to “let me tell you,” then “watch me,” and now, it has become “join me.”
“It’s a really smart and efficient way for brands to get closer to viewers and followers,” Lee said.
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