Facebook quietly tests group video chat app, whilst Instagram attempts to boost engagement on Stories

The creative teams at Facebook and Instagram have been working hard this week to roll out a couple of creative additions to improve the user experience.

Firstly, Instagram has just launched an update to its Stories feature that allows users to reply to a story using photos or videos. In addition, filters and stickers can be added to make the whole process more creative.

Once a recipient opens and views the content, the sender will be notified.

The move is likely to boost engagement with the app, which is what Instagram is currently focused on in addition to boosting its advertising business.

According to research by Locowise which analysed 2,500 Instagram profiles, engagement rates on Instagram were 1.1% during March 2017, a 10% increase over the previous month. That’s also 746% higher than engagement on Twitter and 83.3% higher than that on Facebook. So it seems, Instagram is doing something right.

Interestingly, over eight million brands are now using Instagram for their business profiles and a million of them are active advertisers. That’s a quarter of Facebook’s four million advertisers. More importantly, 80% of Instagram users actually follow at least one business, and during February over 120 million of them visited a website or engaged with a business otherwise.

Is Facebook preparing a group video chat app?

In even bigger news, parent Facebook is rumoured to be launching a Houseparty-style live group video chat app in the near future. Called Bonfire, the app is already said to have the potential to become a teenager-favourite given the popularity of Houseparty.

That’s why Facebook recently conducted a survey among teens to find out what they thought about apps such as Fam and Houseparty. Here’s an example of Houseparty:

There’s one particularly interesting aspect to Houseparty: whilst groups can live chat, it also notifies a user when a friend is using the app. That’s likely to trigger a missing-out effect and lead to higher engagement.

If Facebook is indeed working on a copycat version of the app, it may be able to attract a considerably younger audience many of whom have flocked to Snapchat in recent years.