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Instagram adds ‘BeReal’ dupe, holiday engagement elements

BeReal, the candid app, has soared in popularity since launch, despite some declining data in open rates – but Instagram sees their threat.

Selfie of two girls on iphone representing BeReal app

Meta has made some updates to Instagram, designed to foster engagement and interaction on the platform. Let’s take a closer look at each new feature, and the direction Instagram is heading!

The first and most controversial is the new Notes feature. Notes are supposed to act as a conversation prompt, to get people to message you and therefore foster engagement on Instagram. Direct Messaging is currently the number one way users interact on Instagram.

While I understand the feature for building brand relationships and getting to know larger-scale creators better, it seems a bit redundant to me. I mean, I’m no more likely to reply to your note than I am to the Instagram story you posted.

When they first launched, I thought notes were intended like away messages, reminiscent of instant messaging apps of the nineties and early aughts. It turns out; however, Notes are meant to be 60-character (text or emoji) statuses meant to act as conversation prompts and encourage messaging between users.

How to use: To leave a note, go to the top of your inbox, select an audience (followers or close friends, the same options you select when posting a story), and your note will appear at the top of their inbox for 24 hours. Then, sit back and wait for the replies.

Screenshot was taken directly from author’s Instagram profile

This next feature, Collaborative Collection and Group Profiles are the newest way to group chat inside the app. Group Profiles are where multiple users share a profile and can post photos and captions that can only be seen by members of the group. Think Facebook Groups meet Group Chat!

Collaborative Collections enables users to save posts to a private collection within your group chat. Think private Snapchat Stories mixed with group chats. These features were added to provide new ways for communities to interact and prompt discussion.

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How to use: Sorry folks, this one is still in testing and has only been rolled out in select countries. Keep an eye out for it in 2023, though!

Meta is also adding two new interaction-prompting options “to help people more easily share in spontaneous, fun ways.”

First up, ‘Candid Stories’ and let’s be real, it’s essentially a clone of the mega-popular BeReal app, which encourages candid sharing. It has grown from 900,000 users to 21 million users in just one year’s time and was named App of the Year. Candid stories prompt users to capture and share what they are doing at that moment, and that story is only visible to others who are doing the same.

How to use: Users will be able to prompt a Candid Story among their connections via a new option within the Stories Camera. Then, after you launch your first Candid, Instagram will continue to prompt you and your connections with a daily notification to capture another Candid and share what you’re all up to at a given time.

Instagram is known for adding features for its billion-plus users to compete with other social media apps. They added Reels to keep up with Tik Tok, so it was only a matter of time until they added something to keep up with the BeReal app. Meta is also testing the Candid feature for Facebook Stories.

You may have seen the ‘add your prompt’ stories floating around for a while. Add your wedding day, a photo of your baby, a picture of you and your best friend, favorite memory or beloved pet, and more, which has maintained popularity it since it was added earlier this year. It allows users to start or join a chain of prompt responses and different trends from time to time. There’s now a new feature called “pass it on” which allows users to pass on their answered prompt to other users.

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How to use: When you come across an existing “Add Yours” sticker, you can click on the sticker itself to view other IG Stories from public Instagram profiles that participated in that particular prompt. If you want to view responses to your own “Add Yours” prompt, you can navigate back to your Instagram story and click your sticker to see who’s participated. At the bottom of your story there will be a pass-it-on button, simply click and invite others to join the prompt with you!

Social media constantly has to evolve to keep up with current trends and new applications and to provide new, fun, and engaging ways to connect. What do you all think the changes Meta has implemented?

Nicole is a recent graduate (okay fine, a recent-ish graduate) of Texas State University-San Marcos where she received a BA in Psychology. When she's not doing freelance writing, she's doing freelance Public Relations. When she's not working, she's hanging out with dogs or her friends - in that order. Nicole watches way too much Netflix and is always quoting The Office. She has an obsession with true crime and sloths.

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