As of late, Instagram has been beta-testing tons of new features, including a brand new Stories timer that will let users know how long they have to view someone’s Story before it disappears. But will this lowkey nudge be enough to boost story engagement? According to Social Media Today, not everyone has witnessed this feature yet—leading us to believe that it’s still in the very early testing stage. So how and where will these countdowns work?
Just below your profile photo, the number of hours and minutes your followers have left to view your story appears, the idea being that the subtle reminder could make you want to click into the story after being reminded that it’s there. It’s interesting to speculate as to why Instagram wants to boost engagement for Instagram stories. It could be a way to promote the newly updated ability for users to shop directly in Stories.
Or perhaps they’re simply creating yet another way to keep users on the app as long and as often as possible. With so many of us still under stay-at-home orders, it seems easier than ever to do.
Personally, I’m not sure that this update will make much of a difference. I tend to gravitate towards people whose stories I know will be entertaining or fun to engage with, and those people tend to be close friends IRL. I don’t know that seeing the time left on a Story created by strangers or a casual acquaintance will necessarily motivate me to watch. What could be compelling is including the expiration time under Stories set to disappear within the hour or next few hours. A smaller window of time could spark a sense of urgency that a 22- or 10-hour countdown may not.
In addition to this beta-test, Instagram is also experimenting with live-streams that can host up to three users at a time (currently only available in India), in-app shopping opportunities, personal fundraiser capabilities, and more. There’s also talk of a Twitter and Instagram collab which will allow users who have both platforms to share tweets directly to their Instagram Stories (Twitter just launched a similar collab with Snapchat). Try to keep up!
Subscribe to the BlogHer newsletter for our top tactical tips, exclusive content, and timely event updates.