Some announcements from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have come out recently which look set to offer users and brands new ways of using the social networks. These include expanded shopping tags in Instagram and augmented reality ads from Facebook.

What a week in social media! In case all your feeds have been taken up with #England and #Itscominghome, we are here to give you the low down on all that’s happening:

Instagram Shopping tags to be available in Stories

Instagram has had a busy few months, including launching IGTV, video chat, music in stories, an ‘all caught up’ option in feed and, discussed below, a new questions sticker. For brands and businesses one of the most significant changes is the ability to expand your shopping tags from the Feed to Stories. This week they have also announced they are making their Stories shopping tags available to all advertisers who have enabled the shopping option on Instagram.

Ask a question on your Instagram Stories posts

Here’s another interactive feature for Instagram Stories; after the popularity of the emoji polls, we now have the option to add a question sticker to Stories posts. According to Instagram: “It’s a fun new way to start conversations with your friends so you can get to know each other better.”

You can get anyone to ask you a question, or answer one themselves and then see the questions and who they are from in the viewers list. You can then share the responses, however when you share the responses, it won’t show who asked the question.

AR Ads coming from Facebook so you can virtually try on products

Augmented reality has been around for a long time; apps have come and gone, and social media networks have been using them just for fun for a long time now. But Facebook has decided that now is the time: AR can help brand sales. They announced at their holiday marketing event that they are creating tools which will enable users to virtually try on different products, like make-up and sunglasses, direct from their news feeds.

Although not available yet and still in their early stages of development, this will come through main feed ads with a ‘Tap to try on’ option on the main image. You will then be able to put a digital version of the item you’re trying on yourself via your camera. If you like how it looks you can buy. This does seem more of a novelty than a serious shopping feature, as it’s uncertain how often shoppers will actually try this out after the initial release.

Lens Explorer from Snapchat to showcase Community created AR tools

Last year Snapchat opened up their Lens Studio so people could create their own filters. User created AR lenses have proven to be popular; more than 100,000 unique Lenses have been created and they now have a library available for all to discover. And now you can discover these with Snapchat’s ‘Lens Explorer’ – “an easier way to discover and unlock thousands of Lenses built by Snapchatters around the world”.

To find more filters, head to the lens carousel and click the new face icon, you will then be taken to a full-screen listing of community created Lens tools to try out yourself. With Instagram Stories pushing through more and more updates for users, Snapchat opening up their AR development has allowed them to still keep users interested, after all who doesn’t love a good filter!

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