It started with Snapchat and then it spread to other social media platforms. We are speaking of disappearing messages and content. It works like this: the content is available either for a number of hours (usually 24) or until the intended user has viewed it. Now Instagram appears to be working on such a feature as well.
Why Are Disappearing Messages Popular?
People are worried about their privacy online. There are many examples of messages and photos posted by users in the heat of the moment and then coming back to haunt them years later. It happens to celebrities, politicians but also to regular people.
Apart from the privacy issue, there is another aspect that makes disappearing messages appealing to people. It’s the psychological factor called scarcity, something used in marketing for decades. When something is available only for a short time or in a limited quantity, people become suddenly interested in getting it.
Is Instagram Joining the Game?
This is a case of the company being presented with evidence of their work in progress and having to acknowledge it. It all started on the 19th of March, with reverse engineering specialist Jane Manchun Wong. She spotted a code in the Instagram Android app, tested it and shared the results in a Twitter message.
She posted the demonstration as a GIF accompanied by a message including the “speak no evil monkey” emoji. As per Wong’s own observations, this is a very basic version, which is still far from ready to deploy.
One day later, on the 20th of March, Instagram responded to Jane Manchun Wong’s tweet and acknowledged the project:
“We’re always exploring new features to improve your messaging experience. This feature is still in early development and not testing externally just yet!”
What Could This Development Mean for Marketers?
Disappearing messages for Instagram could present interesting opportunities for businesses. They may be able to use them to promote limited time offers or share behind the scenes images of upcoming products and events.
It is not clear whether business accounts will have access to disappearing messages from the moment this feature eventually launches. However, it is quite probable that Instagram will monetise it one way or another.
What Is the Bigger Picture?
The disappearing messages and content trend it growing stronger among the apps under the Facebook umbrella. In parallel with Instagram, Whatsapp is also working on a similar feature. From the screenshots posted by WaBetaInfo from the beta version of Whatsapp for Android, it appears that users will be able to set the time when their messages will be deleted, from 1 hour to 1 year.
These developments are confirmations of an announcement the Facebook Team made in August 2019. Back then, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Instagram chat would be integrated with Messenger. The ultimate goal is to join together all the direct messaging services owned by Facebook.
Will Marketers Have Limited Options to Place Facebook Ads?
As you know, right now you can choose to place your ads on Facebook, Messenger or Instagram and, up to an extent, on Whatsapp, What happens when Messenger, Instagram chat and Whatsapp are unified? What happens when disappearing messages become the norm?
The fact of the matter is that none of these services will actually disappear by merging into one platform. It will only mean that users will be able to access all of them with the same account. Thus, businesses will still have access to the same number of placements for their ads.
We will keep you informed as soon as we have more information on any of the issues we discussed in this article.