Instagram’s new ‘Stay Home’ Stories sticker is encouraging people around the world to self-isolate … [+]
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Under ordinary circumstances on the first Saturday of spring, Instagram users worldwide would likely fill their Stories with multimedia from concerts, festivals, sporting events, parties and social gatherings.
But with much of the world locked down because of coronavirus precautions, the Facebook-owned platform has introduced a clever new wrinkle designed to encourage people to continue to create while sequestered.
A new ‘Stay Home’ sticker was added Saturday to the app’s Stories interface, allowing users to tag their ephemeral decorated photos and videos from home with a badge of solidarity.
The platform has added a broad variety of timely stickers in the past; for example, creators can still employ a slate of LGBTQ-themed icons, like rainbow sunglasses and a rainbow icon reading ‘Queer.’
But the ‘Stay Home’ sticker appears to have earned additional emphasis from the platform: stories tagged with the sticker are added to a custom story that compiles all uses of the sticker by accounts followed by a user. (‘Stay Home’ has also been positioned atop of the menu of tools within the creative interface.)
The curated story is particularly valuable because it appears ahead of all of a users’ friends posts, which are sorted by a sophisticated, secretive and highly personalized algorithm. So users are likely to see content from accounts whose story they might not ordinarily watch, if that content is tagged with ‘Stay Home.’ However, it appears that — for now — the curated story consists only of posts from accounts a user is already following.
Screenshots from users on Twitter showed that the ‘Stay Home’ sticker isn’t just in English; Seana Davis, social media correspondent for Euronews, shared a screenshot of the sticker in French. The scope of the ‘Stay Home’ sticker is unclear; a Tweet sent to Instagram seeking comment had received no response at publication time.
Paul ‘BizPaul’ Ince, founder of the UK-based digital marketing agency Likemind Media, was among the first creators to use the sticker on his personal story on Saturday.
“I think anything that can help spread the message is important because people aren’t listening and taking this seriously,” Ince said. “It’s that herd mentality: people need to see others they know doing the right thing.”
Unclear at publication is the long-ranging implications for Instagram on how this feature may be used by businesses in the future: will major cultural moments like the Oscars or the Super Bowl receive that same front-of-the-line curated story placement? Will brands be able to purchase such positioning? Will this lead to curated topic-focused stories from popular creators being more prominently featured? (Twitter introduced a ‘Topics’ feature in Nov. 2019.)
The ‘Stay Home’ sticker sits atop the menu of creative tools available to Instagram Stories … [+]
Chris Strub / Screenshot
“The idea of curated themed content with stickers truly adds a community movement element to Instagram Stories,” said Brian ‘@iSocialFanz’ Fanzo, a digital futurist. “Glue of conversations and movements in story structure can be used for rallies, events, even to connect tribes much like TikTok hashtags and algorithm does.”
Other social media platforms are also instituting reactive changes to the coronavirus crisis in their own unique ways. Location-based app Swarm rewards users with virtual coins for checking in along their travels; users can still currently check in, but now are given 0 coins with a message to ‘Stay at home!’
And on a broader scale, Facebook has also unveiled a coronavirus information center designed to appear at the top of users’ news feeds.