Instagram is rolling out three new functions today that will be incorporated into Instagram Stories: links, tags/mentions and its popular Boomerang photo burst feature. The latter two will be available for all users immediately, while links will be rolled out to select verified accounts beginning this week.
Probably the biggest move here is the ability for creators to incorporate links within Stories without having to resort to the now-cliche “link in bio” text. If a particular Story post incorporates a link, “see more” will appear at the bottom of the screen, with viewers able to swipe up — which pauses the Story — and click the link, opening a fully-functional web browser within the app, with the ability to return to the paused Story when done. In a way, it’s a workaround of competitor Snapchat’s Discover function, in which media brands create Snapchat-specific content against which they can sell ads; with Instagram Stories, brands and celebrities will be able to link directly to their own sites that they would be leading viewers towards regardless — a written article, or a link to a new song or tour dates, for example. According to Instagram, Chance the Rapper will be among the first artists to use the links feature.
With the mentions tool, users can post a photo or video to their Story and add text as usual, but the @ symbol will now allow users to tag other accounts, which will alert the tagged user and open up a direct message between the two, which will expire after 24 hours when the daily Story does. Viewers will be able to tap the tag, which pauses the Story, and explore the tagged account; to avoid text-filled spam tags, if the text is made too big or too small — or made so there is with no way to avoid tapping it — the @ tag will not function as a link.
Instagram debuted Stories back in August, which many saw as a rival to Snapchat’s core function of 24-hour video snippets which had attracted millions of users since its launch. The company — which has six musicians among its top 10 most-followed accounts — recruited Calvin Harris, Demi Lovato, Ciara and Nick Jonas to help launch Stories three months ago. Since then, it’s been used by the likes of the Gorillaz, who used Stories to announce their first album in five years, and Lady Gaga, who used the function to document the day she released her latest album, Joanne.