Of all the intricacies of social media, swipe-up is the most mysterious.
On Instagram, for example, if you have over 10,000 followers, you can create an Instagram Story and then, when a follower swipes up, they will see a clickable link.
Normally, the only place to have a link is in your profile, so it is a perk of extreme popularity.
In summary, swipe up gives people a link. That’s it.
I wish it was more complicated, although the process of accumulating 10,000 followers is still woefully arcane. (Some have suggested the fastest way to that number is to buy them.) The rules haven’t changed in a while, but the methods are always evolving.
This week, Instagram announced the swipe-up gesture is going away. The replacement? That would be a sticker you can place anywhere in a story as a way to entice followers to follow a link.
In the annals of social media feature changes and new interface designs, it is not exactly monumental. In terms of quirky fixtures of our digital existence, it’s a major milestone.
I have to say, I have never understood why links don’t work. Maybe there’s some deep-rooted history behind it, like the reason a tweet used to be 140 characters (because that’s the original length of a text). Maybe it’s all a ploy to keep us in the app (probably).
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A better explanation and one that is not so jaded might be that Instagram is all about visual appeal. We’re sharing our best moments by photo and video with each other. Who needs links? And yet, for a company, those running a marketing campaign, or just someone writing a blog once in a while, the idea that a major platform doesn’t let you share links is quite strange.
And now, it is even stranger.
I understand why stickers make sense. The visual presentation in Instagram is of utmost importance, even if most users don’t really know what Photoshop is or care that it exists.
Younger users like the fun vibe of stickers and slapping them everywhere. The rest of us are confused, mostly because this is not Pokémon. Instagram is a serious business to a lot of folks. Someone I know second hand recently decided to become a full-time Instagrammer. Changes like this rock their world. They feel like a landslide. Everything changes for them.
And then there’s the user interface issues. Swipe-up lasted so long because, once you get how it works, you get hooked. It’s a bit like figuring out how to unlock the next level of a game. The first time you see an Instagram Story and swipe-up, you know the trick.
It might not be on the same level as a “like” on Facebook or a retweet, but swipe-up has been a staple of influencer culture for a really long time.
Rest in peace, I never liked it anyway.