Instagram adds more Stories features

The updates come following a big surge in users for the platform.

Instagram has rolled out an array of new features for its Stories including updated AR face filters, lenses to alter visuals, as well as background music (although the music feature is not yet available in Canada).

In addition, parent company Facebook recently announced that it would bring its AR camera effects (which it debuted on its flagship mobile platform last year) to Instagram. This means that creators, influencers and brands will soon be able to create custom Instagram filters using Facebook’s open AR studio. The custom filters created by influencers and brands are only available to those who follow them. The update is currently in a closed beta.

These updates come amidst a massive surge in popularity for the mobile platform, particularly on Stories. On Thursday, Instagram announced that it has more than 400 million users creating and viewing Stories (and one billion users for the whole platform).

This is more than twice the most recent reported numbers reported by Snapchat in its quarterly report. The platform is currently at 190 million daily active users.

Indeed, Snapchat’s growth has been slower than Instagram Stories. For Snapchat, its daily active users in Q1 2018 represented a year-over-year increase of 15%, and a 2% increase quarter-over-quarter. Although Facebook does not release Instagram’s story users on a quarterly basis and instead when it hits certain milestones, it did announce that stories achieved 200 million daily active users in April of 2017, resulting in a 100% increase over 15 months.

Jonathan Davids, CEO of Toronto-based influencer marketing firm Influicity said that many of the company’s partnered creators still use Snaphat, although interest from the brands the company works with has dropped.

“The demand from brands and media buyers and Snapchat has really waned,” he said, adding that lately it’s rarely brought up in client meetings.

Although Snapchat has added numerous advertiser-friendly features in recent months – such as its own self-serve AR platform and switching its story ads to a programmatic platform – Davids said the user-friendly features on Instagram stories are what it really giving it an edge.