Things have been heating up between Snapchat and Instagram lately, with Instagram constantly nipping at the heels of Snapchat on both interface design, features, and usability. The competition between the two companies has never been fiercer, with both companies chasing after the same goal: the best temporary photo-sharing service on the market. And while Snapchat may have created the market, Instagram’s no slouch. Though parent company Facebook seems determined to add Story-like features to every single app they have out on the market, the one place it seems to be making a real impact is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Instagram. The photo-based social network has spent the last year adding direct photo messaging, Stories-support, and so much more to compete on the market with Snapchat, and it seems to be working. In fact, Techcrunch reported back in January that Instagram Stories was stealing Snapchat’s own user base away from the original app, and according to Recode, Instagram hit 200 million Stories users per day back in April, surpassing Snapchat’s own 158 million daily user numbers in less than a year.
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So it’s obvious people are making the switch from Snapchat to Instagram, even if both apps are still drawing massive numbers. If you’ve made the switch over to your Instagram community—or you’ve been meaning to invest a bit more into the app—you might be a bit confused on certain aspects of the app. Instagram’s camera and editing interface, though similar, isn’t identical to Snapchat’s, and whether you replaced your Snapchat usage with Instagram or you’re just jumping into the “Stories” game for the first time with Instagram’s own application, adding stickers and emoji to your Instagram Stories is a must-know for creating innovative or artistic photos. Here’s how Stickers and Emoji work inside of Instagram.
Adding Stickers or Emoji to Instagram Stories
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re looking to add an image to your Instagram Story, there’s multiple ways to access the camera interface for your temporary posts. Once you’re inside the Instagram feed on your account, you can do any of these things to open the camera interface:
- Tap the “Add to Story” icon at the top of your Instagram feed, located to the left of all other stories on your Stories panel.
- Tap the Camera icon in the top-left corner of your display.
- Swipe right on your Instagram feed to open the camera.
While it might seem obnoxious to have this many methods and actions for launching the camera, it also makes using the app far easier than it otherwise would be. No matter whether you like to slide or tap icons, you can access the camera easily from your phone’s display. Once you’re in the camera interface, things might start to look a bit similar to experienced Snapchat users. Your shutter button—which, of course, doubles as a record button when you hold it—is at the bottom of your display. You can pinch to zoom to increase your digital zoom, and you can slide your finger when recording to do the same. Your controls are all laid out along the bottom, with (from left to right) a gallery icon, a flash toggle, a camera switch, and the ability to add augmented reality effects similar to that of Snapchat. At the very bottom of the app, you’ll find camera settings, including normal, live, boomerang, and rewind.
Once you’ve taken your snapshot you want to post to your story (or recorded a video), you’ll be given the opportunity to edit your capture. Since we’re looking to add stickers and emoji to our photo, we’ll cover both of these one at a time.
At the top of your photo, you’ll see a few options for adding content to your display. Ranging from left to right, you’ll see a smiley icon, a marker icon, an a “Aa” icon that indicates text. That smiley icon is your stickers icon. Tapping it will open a drawer on your device with a blurred background (you can also open this drawer by swiping up on your display). These are your Instagram stickers, and they can be added to any photo or video you wish before posting the content to Instagram. You’ll find a bunch of content in here, often changing in or out depending on the day and time of year, but here’s just a few examples of the types of stickers you’ll find in Instagram Stories.
- Location: When you tap on location, you’ll be brought to a location-lookup display, where you can search for different areas around the world, including hotspots that happen to be near you. The customization seen here is really nice. Instead of relying on an app like Snapchat to have a geofilter ready for your area, you can simply rely on yourself to enter the correct data. Once you’ve selected your own location, you can cycle between designs, logos, and more to set your sticker.
- Weather: Unlike on Snapchat, the weather isn’t so much a filter as it is a sticker. We love this—the ability to not have the temperature permanently in the center frame of your image is an excellent add. Once you’ve selected the weather, you can cycle through a ton of designs and options for how you want the weather to look. Once you’ve made your decision, you can zoom in and out of your sticker, move it to the corner or side of your display, and really make it feel like your own. Compared to Snapchat’s own version of the weather, we much prefer Instagram’s implementation of this sticker.
- #Hashtag: Alright, this is pretty cool. Since Instagram is one of two social networks that led to the uprise and prominence of hashtags (Twitter being the other, though the hashtag has a long and varied history that most people don’t know), Instagram Stories has the ability to add a hashtag sticker to your story. Once you select the sticker from your lineup, you’ll be asked to input your own text into the sticker. This can be anything you’d like it to be, and Instagram will add suggestions as you type for popular or trending hashtags.
- Day of the Week: This operates exactly how Snapchat’s own Day of the Week filter works, though Instagram allows you to move, zoom, and control how the sticker looks.
There’s a ton more of stickers spread over two pages, typically offering fancy or time-based designs, like watermelon slices for the summer, along with hats and glasses you can place over your own selfies. You can have as many stickers as you’d like on your story as you’d like, though the more you add, the busier your image will be. All of them can be dragged around the screen as you’d like, some of them can have different designs by tapping on the sticker itself to cycle through the variations. And if you accidentally make a mistake in your sticker choice, dragging the sticker to the bottom of your display will delete the sticker completely.
Adding an emoji to your Instagram story is a bit different than adding a sticker. Instead of swiping up from a display and accessing either all 1,000 emoji (or a select few, as Snapchat does) within one panel, you’ll want to use the text tool within Instagram Stories to add your emoji right from the keyboard on your iPhone or Android. On our Android test device, we’re using Google’s stock Gboard, which is available for download both within the Play Store on Android and on the iOS app store.
To add your emoji to your Instagram shot, it’s the same as you would with any other emoji-based app. Tap the type-based tool on your Instagram shot and you’ll see your keyboard pop-up, along with an entry field for text. Open up the emoji menu on your keyboard and begin to tap whatever emoji you want to add to your photo. Tapping the ‘A’ icon at the top of your display will highlight your emoji in white or a transparent white background. Once you’re done adding emoji to your photo, you can hit the “Done” button in the top-right of your display. The text will be centered on your display, but you can move, zoom, and rotate your emoji wherever you’d like to place them on your photo.
Posting Your Story
Once you’ve decided you like how your shot is designed with stickers and emoji, you can either post your photo directly to your story, or hit the next button in the bottom-right hand corner of your display to make a few choices on where the image goes. Here are your options:
- Hitting “Next” will load a display that allows you to send your image directly to your followers. You can start a group, send individually to multiple people, or search through names to select. Direct messages, if you haven’t used them, essentially function just like Snapchat’s standard snap sending service (try saying that five-times-fast). Your recipients will get the message, and once the photo has been viewed, it will disappear forever. You can also add the photo to your story from this message.
- If you just want to add the photo directly to your story, instead of hitting the “Next” button, just hit “Your Story” in the bottom-left hand corner of the display. Hitting “Save” will also save the photo directly to your device.
Though Instagram was open to some pretty justified mockery when Direct Messages and Stories were added to the app last year—both obvious takes on Snapchat’s main operations—it’s obvious people have taken to the app anyway. With the already-existing audience and easy Facebook integration within Instagram, it’s easier to find your friends on the platform than ever. In addition, problems with battery drain and photo quality that have become commonplace within Snapchat—and ignored for years—just aren’t there on Instagram, making it an easy switch for people looking to get away from the poor design problems that seem to plague Snapchat. Stories are a super cool feature, and copy or not, they work just as well as what we’ve seen from Snapchat. Definitely check these out, and let us know in the comments below if you’re enjoying Instagram’s rival feature after a year of using it.