Instagram rolls out Stories for close friends to keep platform intimate

Instagram wants to make it easier to share content with your inner circle.

On Friday, the photo-sharing network announced the ability to share Stories with a smaller group of friends. The feature, called Close Friends, has begun rolling out globally.

“Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone,” the company wrote in a blog post. “With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.”

Earlier this year, Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users. As the platform becomes bigger, users may not feel comfortable sharing certain content with a wider audience.

Analysts say it’s a smart strategy considering users are already flocking from the main feed to Stories.

“Stories are in themselves already more intimate. You can share things that are maybe a bit less polished, less perfect, [and] daily moments from your life,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer who covers social media marketing. “From there is the ability to narrow the audience. I think that’s valuable.”

Instagram added Stories to its platform in 2016 and usage has taken off tremendously with 400 million people now using the feature daily. Snapchat pioneered the concept of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Tap the “Close Friends List” option in the side menu on the right side of the app to create or add people to the list. The list is private and only the creator can add friends or see who is on it. If someone is on another user’s close friends list, a green ring will appear around their photo in the Stories section of the app. They’ll also see a green badge when viewing that person’s Stories.

The move further fuels Instagram’s competition with rival Snapchat, which also lets you share content with select people.

Snapchat has had a similar custom Stories feature since last year. On the app, Stories can be customized around a specific event or location, like a concert. The Snapchat user decides who can add to the Story and who can see it.

“In general, everything that Instagram is doing is in some ways in competition with Snapchat,” Williamson said.