This is interesting.
According to a new discovery by reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong, Instagram is working on a new 'Links' option within its business profile settings that would enable brands to add a new quick link, via a profile button or sticker, to guide visitors to purchase gift cards or make donations.
As you can see here, there's an added 'Links' option here beneath 'Profile Display'. That would be in addition to your main website link, which is included in the bio section above these 'Public Business Information' settings.
In the text here it notes that:
"You can now set-up links to giftcards from Stories stickers and your profile so customers can help your business."
Presumably, this would add a new button to your business profile, maybe alongside the current 'Follow' and 'Message' buttons.
But the addition of stickers here adds another angle - it seems that, maybe, Instagram is looking to launch a new sticker which, when tapped, would connect through to a special gift cards or donation process, adding another promotional element to consider in your strategy.
We don't have to much to go on here, but I'd hazard a guess that this has been added in the last two weeks as Instagram looks for ways to help businesses that are suffering due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. With retailers closing their physical stores, they'll be looking to online options to help maintain some level of revenue flow where possible, and maybe, even though people aren't heading out, they'll be able to support their local businesses by buying up gift cards for use at a later date, when the closures are over.
This could be a way for impacted SMBs to lessen their losses. For example, a local bookstore that's going to lose money due to loss of foot traffic could offer a 5% discount on gift cards, then call on their local community for assistance, along with an added benefit. Kids play centers, movie theaters - there's a wide range of businesses that have lost all of their revenue flow right now. Maybe, this is another way for the community to band together to support them, despite them being shut down at present.
Obviously this won't offset the full impacts, or even most of them, but maybe this is where Instagram is looking - and definitely, it would provide some level of help.
On another front, Wong has also uncovered a test of a new option which would show who among your contacts within the Instagram Direct messaging tab is active in the app at any given time.
Which is just like Messenger - which makes sense, given that Facebook is working towards integrating all of its messaging tools into a single back-end system.
We noted the same in regards to another recent discovery by Wong - a test of disappearing messages in Instagram. WhatsApp is also testing disappearing messages, which means that Messenger likely is too, as they'll all soon have to have the same functionality.
So an active tab will be coming to Instagram, along with any other feature you can use in Messenger or WhatsApp.
Will that add a heap to Instagram? Probably not, but it seems more about integration than functionality in this respect.
UPDATE (3/28): Jane Wong has additionally discovered that Instagram is also looking to add a new 'Support' sticker for the purpose of gathering donations/promoting gift cards for SMBs and artists.
This looks set to be another element of the platform's effort to help businesses and artists who are suffering as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns.