So far, Instagram’s Stories have been–more or less–a polished copy of the self-destructing, sticker-laden videos pioneered by Snapchat. But a new update shows Instagram’s greater ambitions for these clips. The feature places a poll-style sticker on any video, allowing you to ask your viewers to vote on something as simple as “plain” or “sprinkled” donuts. The voting results play out in real time to anyone watching the video, including the poster and the voter.
It’s a small but brilliant engagement play that will surely get people not just watching more videos, but potentially rewatching them, too. And this one single affordance–letting the audience weigh in publicly–could lead to all sorts of new use cases. Imagine a fashion influencer having their followers vote on which pair of shoes to buy, a chef asking their fans which dish should be tonight’s special, or a travel blogger allowing their audience to choose the next step in their adventure.
However, it’s easy to imagine that this simple tool could evolve into something bigger, since the button needn’t be limited to mere polling. It could just as easily serve as a hyperlink, connecting one Instagram story to another. Right now, meme-driven Instagrammers have to screenshot one another, making copies of copies of copies of the same viral post. It’s messy, not to mention nowhere near the potential of a mobile-native video viewing experience. With hyperlink button, Instagram could let you essentially channel surf, one clip to another, outside the bounds of any single, finite Instagram story, and into the bottomless well that is the Instagram community.
Of course, maybe Instagram has zero interest in such an approach. Yet either way, this little poll demonstrates something important: Mobile video is still in its infancy. And there’s still a ton that could change overnight, with the tiniest nudge of UI design.