Face filters have arrived in the Instagram camera, enabling users to overlay their selfies and regular shots with Snapchat-like animations.
This is an overt move by Instagram to get people to take photos and videos in its platform, and, as always, these recordings can then be sent to friends via Instagram Direct or added to a story.
The Facebook-owned app has also rolled out new “creative tools” — a phrase that comes straight from Snapchat’s playbook — to its stories platform, including a Rewind feature to play videos in reverse, custom hashtag stickers that users can tap to explore related posts, and an eraser brush to go alongside Instagram’s existing drawing tools. These features are less about coaxing people to use Instagram’s camera than increasing engagement more generally.
These features all have Snapchat in their crosshairs, and aim to increase Instagram engagement in the following ways:
- Face filters. These can only be accessed in the Instagram camera, meaning users won’t be able to retroactively add filters to images or videos recorded on other cameras, such as the smartphone’s default camera, Snapchat, and other camera-first apps. Three billion Snaps are created daily as of Q1 2017 — a metric that Instagram will want to surpass.
- Editing tools. The Rewind feature adds to Instagram’s Boomerang and Hands-Free camera formats and seems tangentially similar to the Looping feature that Snapchat rolled out two weeks ago. Instagram’s eraser brush also triggers memories of Snapchat’s new ‘Magic Eraser’ tool, but while these two features are analogous in name, they differ greatly in function.
- Hashtag stickers. Adding custom hashtag stickers to Stories, which users can tap into to see the hashtag page and explore related posts, builds upon the open nature of Instagram’s social network. This feature increases the visibility of Stories, making them more easy to search and discover. It also complements Instagram’s existing Mentions feature for tagging users in Stories.
Mobile-app makers and content creators are vying for consumer attention in a crowded and noisy market.
Even if an app can stand out enough to prompt a consumer to download it from among a list of millions, it then faces the challenge of enticing him or her to use it enough times to recuperate development, maintenance, and marketing costs. To make matters worse, those marketing costs have hit record-high levels over the past year as discoverability has become more challenging.
And while consumers are spending more time in apps, most of that time is spent in a few favorites. Consumers spend almost three-quarters of their total smartphone app time in just their three favorite apps, according to comScore.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: There are numerous tools at a publisher’s disposal to engage and re-engage consumers, and there are new products and solutions coming to market that can help alleviate some of the issues around this app engagement crisis.
Jessica Smith, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on app engagement that explores the current state of the app market, the issues around engaging consumers, and the tools at a publisher’s disposal. It also identifies best practices for the implementation of some app engagement tools, and presents the pitfalls that some publishers fall into in this pursuit.
Here are some key takeaways from the report:
- The app market today is challenging and volatile. It’s difficult to stand out, and most apps have to be offered for free in order to entice consumers who have too much supply to choose from. This puts greater emphasis on engaging consumers after they’ve downloaded an app in order to recoup costs.
- Consumers are more difficult to engage today, as most have dozens of apps installed on their devices yet spend most of their time in just a select handful of favorites.
- There are numerous solutions at hand for mobile app publishers and content creators seeking to engage consumers. Push notifications, in-app messaging, and app message centers with badges are three tools publishers can use to engage consumers.
- While many publishers mistakenly rely solely on push notifications for app engagements, this is a poor practice because many consumers don’t allow push notifications and those that do can easily be overwhelmed when they receive too many.
- The best solution often includes leveraging two or three of these tools to engage consumers with the right message at the right time. The technology in this market has grown increasingly sophisticated, and publishers that don’t diversify their approach run the risk of annoying their consumers to the point of abandonment.
- There are emerging engagement technologies that will change the current app engagement norms and present new ways for app publishers to communicate with users. The mobile ecosystem is changing quickly as technology improves and consumers become more comfortable conducting more activities on mobile devices.
In full, the report:
- Identifies the major challenges in today’s app market and explains why employing good app engagement practices is more important than ever before.
- Presents the major app engagement tools currently available.
- Examines the pros and cons of each app engagement tool while outlining some pitfalls that publishers encounter in implementing them.
- Prescribes best practices for adopting various app engagement tools or strategies.
- Assesses how the market will likely change over the next five years as emerging technologies change both consumer behavior with mobile devices and introduce new tools with which to engage consumers.