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Instagram Expands Group Video Chat Option [Video]

Here’s a small, but interesting update – Instagram has announced that users can now add up to six people to a video chat, a 50% capacity increase from the original four when the feature was launched back in June.

Why does that matter? It’s an interesting development in that it likely reflects the popularity of the option, which is what, you’d think, would have sparked further investment of time and effort into the tool.

As we noted when the feature was launched, with group video chat, Instagram’s looking to tap into the rising trend of video catch-ups, which have become increasingly popular among younger users.

When Instagram first launched its own live-streaming option back in 2016, Instagram Live product manager Shilp Sarkar noted that:

“The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a live-stream and hang out. That use of live is particularly interesting to us.”

That trend is what fueled group-streaming app Houseparty to rapid growth, with the app reaching 20 million users mere months after launch. Interestingly, Houseparty recently launched its own messaging-like option, called Facemail, which enables users to record and share 15-second snippets of chats with friends in the app.

Houseparty now has ‘a couple of million’ daily active users, who are active in the app for an average of 55 minutes per day.

The stats underline the popularity of ‘live chilling’ via streaming apps, a way to be present with your friends at any time, and without leaving your house – which, no doubt, some would also argue might not be especially healthy from a social skills perspective.

But it’s a trend nevertheless, and there’s clearly benefit to giving users a way to talk to others at any given time.

Facebook’s other efforts to tap into the same have seen mixed results. While group video calls on Facebook Messenger have seen significant usage growth, Facebook’s own, dedicated group streaming app Bonfire still hasn’t been rolled out to all regions, which likely suggests take-up hasn’t been great.

Maybe, then, Instagram is Facebook’s best bet to own the trend, and fend off another potential video competitor – and while Houseparty would not appear to be a significant concern in the battle for online attention (20 million users is a blip in comparison to Facebook’s massive scale), it is still an area that Facebook can dominate.

And with the company’s ongoing push into video content, every video element is important – the more Facebook can get users coming to its apps for video, in any form, the more it can help form habitual links with its video products.

If you’re more accustomed to watching video on Instagram, maybe IGTV holds a little more appeal, as an example.

It’s small, yes, it may not seem like much. But the broader significance of the announcement is worthy of note.

This story originally appeared in Social Media Today. Image courtesy of Buffer.

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