Instagram is today beginning a small test for a new feature called "favorites," which allows users to create a customized list of their closest friends, and from there choose to share posts and story updates only with their favorites list. Instagram product lead Robby Stein told The Verge that the company has been working on the feature for more than a year, and a broader release is expected over the next few months.
The first step tasks users with creating their favorites list by tapping on friends and family members they want to be able to see their private posts. These additions can be edited at any time, and other Instagram users are never notified when they're added or removed from a favorites list. Then, when creating a post there will be a new option to share the image or 24-hour story post only to a favorites list, instead of posting publicly or direct messaging as usual.
Instagram has begun testing a way to share posts with a more limited group of friends. Called favorites, the feature attempts to improve on earlier social network friend lists, encouraging users to post more often by giving them more control over their audience.
The green “favorites” badge is a small thing, but it signals your affection to the friends of yours who see it, in a way that I suspect will build a sense of intimacy. Seeing a favorites post nestled in among all the other posts in your feed feels like a bonus.
When posted to favorites, those in the list will see the post on their own Instagram feed, but it'll be denoted as a private post with a green "favorites" badge. User profiles will be updated with a favorites tab as well, and every traditional Instagram post that's been shared to favorites (not including ephemeral stories) will be accumulated there for all of a person's favorites to return to and browse.
Stein said that the company is trying hard "to get this right," emphasizing favorites' privacy angle. Those on a person's favorites list will never be made aware of who else is on the list as lists aren't made public, so the only way for them to know they're a favorite is by looking for the green badges on posts. If someone decides they want to remove a favorite, that person will immediately lose access to the other user's favorites tab on their profile, which will appear empty.
Additionally, there's no cap on the number of favorites that can be in one list, but Instagram expects each user to have between 10 and 30 since the whole point is sharing pictures in a more intimate, closed-off setting.
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Now, that said, Instagram has a huge advantage over Snapchat because folks with large (or small!) audiences no longer have to convince their followers to add them on a separate social media platform (Snapchat). With Instagram Stories, we -- figuratively -- now all follow each other on both Instagram AND Snapchat simultaneously (because it exists within the same app). I want to see what's going on in the lives of the photographers that I follow on Instagram? No problem, let me view their story, here inside of Instagram. Ditto for celebrities or music artists. That's huge, in my opinion. Content creators are going to go where the eyeballs are (Instagram).
Oh, and Snapchat still has no way to find and add people easily. You have to add by username or Snapcode or phone number. Come on Snapchat!
I don't see Snapchat going anywhere. It still has a strong community, and you can't beat its curated stories from around the world (like when you can watch snaps from a major event or music festival). And people will still use it for peer-to-peer communication. But Instagram Stories has put a huge dent in the Snapchat platform, if you want my personal opinion.