New Instagram Features: Everything You Need to Know

It's not often that Instagram, the well-loved photo-based Social Media platform, rolls out huge updates, but recently they did just that, introducing a bunch of new features, including Boomerang. Let's take a look and see if these additions bring anything truly new and useful to the tried-and-true Instagram platform.

Instagram Stories: Boomerang

With the popularity of short video clips and GIFs all over the Internet it's no wonder that Instagram is now trying their hand at the platform. It’s a super simple add-on that let's you shoot a short succession of five photos that are automatically transformed into a video clip plays back and forth in an endless loop, just like a GIF. They are saved to your phone's camera roll like any ordinary photo, and can easily be shared on Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere else that supports rich media, since the end product isn't tied to the app. It doesn't even require you to log in to use.

There are obvious similarities you can draw from the now dying Vine platform, which just last month was announced to be ending its services. There's no reason to think Vine and Boomerang share the exact same demographic though, as this app doesn't have much in common with Vine other than creating quick video snippets. It functions more like Snapchat's new Rewind feature than anything, with the aim being the capturing of a specific special moment rather than making a short "story" as was often the case with Vine.

Despite the appeal of a service like Vine, this kind of "storytelling" was always limited by the constraints of being painfully short. Boomerang isn't about telling a story, although there's no doubt it could be used to that extent if one were to get creative with it. This new Instagram service is aimed at creating more of an interactive picture that captures something cool as its actually happening, and freezing it.

instagram-man-spinning-ball

The keyword here is "moments" - a term being capitalized on by many social media platforms as of late, as they each in their own right vie for the attention of teens and young adults, their primary demographic. Due to Snapchat's rise in popularity, it is evident that short video snippets do have a huge audience, but they don't necessarily need to be there to tell a story. These "moments" are better suited to show off the fun little things that you might encounter on any given day. It's the next logical step for Instagram, which has tried its hand at video before without much success. Which brings us to Instagram's other newly debuted feature.

Instagram Stories: Moments

It's no shock that Snapchat is taking the social media world by storm. The app is on pace to grow by 27% in 2016, which makes it the second most popular social media platform in America after Facebook.

It should come as no surprise then that other social media platforms would have to try and bandwagon off of their success. It is true that Snapchat in and of itself is not the greatest marketing tool - but it can be used to connect with clients and customers alike, and provides just another outlet to communicate your brand message, if done properly. Despite its drawbacks, there is no denying that the transient nature and fun aspect of the app lend to its success and enable it to reach a wide demographic. Enter: Instagram Moments. To say that it is a Snapchat clone would be putting it mildly. The app is another addition to the "Instagram Stories" platform, and it is basically Snapchat Lite.

However, it would be careless to dismiss this new feature as just a lackluster Snapchat parody. On the contrary, not only does Moments function well, it does things that Snapchat doesn't do at all. For example, to engage properly with Snapchat, even with Stories, the user has to be acutely aware of timing. Posts shared to Snapchat Stories only last for 24 hours, after which they disappear. This does nothing for SEO or sharing. It could only ever be used to directly engage with one's audience in the now. Instagram is different in that whatever the user posts, it stays on the timeline for good. This allows for both on the spot engagement as well as longtime retention and SEO. If a post exists on the Web indefinitely, it can be shared and utilized in some fashion for an ongoing marketing campaign.

This by no means makes Instagram Moments a "Snapchat Killer" as some have proposed, but it does give them a run for their money and something to think about. There will always be a market for "flavor of the year" products like Snapchat, but Instagram's brand power will see fewer users jumping onto Snapchat just for the sake of sharing video clips if the very same functionality can be found on Instagram, which is already hugely popular with young adults. Instagram has been my personal favorite social media platform for awhile now just because it does so many things right without trying to do too much. It harnesses what I believe is the perfect mixture of reach and personalization, the two ends of the Social Media spectrum. Snapchat isn't particularly good at either - favoring more of a direct communication approach. While this isn't necessarily bad, it doesn't lend itself well to the one enduring benefit of most social media, it's ability to be shared and disseminated all over the Internet. As long as Instagram doesn't try and be a full on Snapchat clone (no need for funny filters - let Snapchat do what it does best!) it should expect success from its new services.

- Photo credit: Instagram.