Instagram is testing a new 'Challenge' sticker for Stories which would enable users to call on their connections to participate in visual competitions, prompting more engagement.
As you can see in these screenshots, posted by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, the Challenge sticker would be added to the regular sticker tray in Stories. When applied, you'd then be prompted to tag friends to participate, while as you can see down the bottom of the screen, there's also an option to 'search challenges' within the hashtag field, based on trending content.
The inspiration here is TikTok - on TikTok, users can use the 'Duet' mode to respond to any other clip and have the two play side-by-side, which many use to reply to challenges and interactive elements built into the posts.
But more broadly, challenges have become a key part of the TikTok eco-system.
As you can see on TikTok's Discover page, hashtags like #siblingcheck, #workdistractions, and more popular variations like #FlipTheSwitch have become key tools for inspiring interaction.
Each of the top hashtag challenges inspires millions, even billions (as you can see here) of user responses, with people providing their own takes on the same, and seeking to tap into the fun of the topic, while also potentially boosting their own view counts.
Instagram's likely hoping to hook into that usage trend with its Challenge tool - though it does seem that it would be more confined on Instagram, given privacy settings and the way the Explore tab highlights content.
On TikTok, there's a real community feel to its Discover tab, which is more based around these types of tags, while on Instagram, Explore is more topic-focussed. Stories content is also not discoverable in the same way, while it also only exists for 24 hours, so it doesn't seem like something that could become as big a consideration on Instagram.
But it may spur more engagement. Maybe, user behavior on TikTok will spill across to Instagram Stories, and the Challenge sticker and inspire more interaction as a result. I mean, even if it only boosts engagement a little, it's probably worth it.
There's no word from Instagram on a potential roll-out, but based on the images here, it looks like it could be close.