Instagram is squaring up to Snapchat with the launch of live video and disappearing images functionality.
Following the launch of Instagram Stories in August, which allows users to share moments from their day and which remain on the platform for 24 hours (also a feature of Snapchat), it is now rolling out Instagram Live within the Stories function.
To go into “Live” mode users can simply swipe right from their feed to open the camera, tap the “Start Live Video” button and start sharing for up to an hour. Followers may get a notification when a user goes live so they can tune in. While a user is live they can pin a comment for everyone to see or turn comments off altogether.
When someone starts a live story, it will be indicated as “Live” under their profile photo in the stories bar. During the broadcast, followers can comment and like as much as they want (as it stands users cannot comment on Stories but instead send a direct message to the poster).
Users can also check out new Live stories on Explore. Tap “Top Live” to see Instagram’s pick of the Live stories happening at that moment. Live video on Instagram Stories and Explore will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.
In another direct play for the Snapchat audience, Instagram is also launching disappearing photos and videos for friends in Instagram Direct.
Since launching improvements to Instagram Direct last year, the number of people using Direct each month has grown from 80m to 300m, claims Instagram, adding that many of them use group threads every day to stay in touch with their closest friends and family.
To access the function users swipe right into the camera to take a photo or video, then tap the arrow to send it privately. You can choose a group or create a new one and also send to individual friends at the same time. Unlike other messages in Direct, these photos and videos disappear from inboxes after they have seen them. For security users will be able to see if a follower replayed a post or took a screenshot.
Whether an account is set to public or private, users can only send disappearing photos and videos to people who follow them. Instagram has already begun the global roll-out of this feature.
Last week it was revealed that Snap, the owner of Snapchat, had secretly filed for an IPO which would value the business at around $25bn; analysts place its daily user figure at around 150m and it is particularly popular among teens and young millennials.
Facebook-owned Instagram has around 500m users of which 300m access the app every day. It is widely considered to be fashion’s social network of choice due to its visual appeal. However Snapchat is gaining in popularity with fashion brands and retailers and a number of new advertising functions, such as Snap Ads in Stories, have made it a very attractive way of reaching an engaged young audience. Brands to have recently employed Snapchat in high profile marketing campaigns include John Lewis, Burberry, River Island and YSL Beauty.