On June 30th, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri posted a video announcing some changes on the platform. Among many other things, the standout quote to hit headlines was announcing that Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing app. The industry’s take? Instagram wants to be TikTok. Watch Adam Mosseri’s Video here before you read more!
Instagram’s four new focus areas are: Creators, Shopping, Messaging, and Video. But what does that mean for the platform? Let’s check in on the history of Instagram.
Instagram was initially conceived as an app called Burbn, allowing users to check in, post plans, and share photos of whiskey or bourbon. It took the location sharing aspect of Four-Square, and added a photo sharing element to it. After the first round of VC funding, IG’s team studied other photo-sharing apps popular at the time. They ultimately stripped Burbn down to photos, commenting, and liking, and rebranded it as Instagram, a combination of instant and telegram. The initial product was a minimalist app design requiring as few actions from the user as possible. Instagram launched to the public on October 6th, 2010. The app hit 25,000 users on the first day, and 1 million users before Christmas.
Fast forwarding to March 2012, Instagram had grown to 27 million users. They continued to release other versions of the app for Android, website, tablets, and more. In April 2012, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock.
Major Instagram Platform Updates
Check out the infographic below
Like we said, the next big changes on Instagram are focused on their four new focus areas: Creators, Shopping, Messaging, and Video
The key thing to remember when looking at all this is that everything Instagram is doing is focused on keeping their users on Instagram for longer. Anything that could send you off, is an area they want to either prevent, push down, or ideally, incorporate into the platform. That’s shown in the platform’s history, incorporating things like Stories to prevent users from going to Snapchat, IGTV to incentivize using Instagram over YouTube, and most recently Reels to prevent users from leaving to go to TikTok.
Now looking to these new focus areas, Mosseri didn’t go much into detail about them, but let’s briefly chat about what he said.
Creators are the powerhouse of Instagram and play a major role in the platform. So much of what people are doing nowadays isn’t necessarily seeing the content of friends and family, but rather influencers and creators in areas they enjoy. Gamers, beauty gurus, conspiracy theories, car guys, Target, local businesses, whatever. They’re all creators and influencers. Instagram is focusing on helping creators, because they are what keeps consumers on the platform, making them a top priority going forward.
A big aspect of influencers and creators on the platform is shopping, especially after COVID-19’s acceleration of the world’s movement to online shopping. Whether its businesses promoting their products or influencers promoting others, it’s a major element of how people engage in the platform. By allowing a user to shop within the platform, it is one fewer way people are leaving. Even more, shopping in livestreams allows people to shop without even leaving the content they’re on!
Mosseri cites changes in how people are communicating on the platform as a reason to focus on updates to messaging. This one was a new element to consider, and the best way to view it was to analyze our own behaviors online. Initially, the reaction was why messaging? Who is sending that many messages? Then considering how often we reply and react to stories, that DMs are the best way to send funny reels or memes to friends, and I send my SO photos of local restaurants to determine our dinner at least once a week! So it all really is going down in the DMs, and we’re just not seeing it. I”m curious to see how Instagram will improve messaging though, hopefully taking the reactions OUT of the DMs, for all our sake.
According to Instagram’s research, people are using the app to be entertained, and they’re leaning into that on the platform. As per Mosseri, video is driving immense growth on all platforms. This may be in part due to generally changing online landscapes, but is certainly due in part to the meteoric rise of TikTok, and how shareable its content is. They’re testing different video options, but moving towards presenting video-driven content that is full-screen, immersive, and mobile-friendly.
So what are our thoughts on this?
They are correct in the way that focusing more on video will increase user retention, focusing on making that video experience better and stronger and more competitive with the rest of the industry. If this is done messily or in a way that ticks off their user base OR their creators, we’re going to see the rise of other platforms. If done well, we can possibly see Instagram rising to even higher heights as a top platform.
As social media managers though, we’re not super excited. Reel and video content is time-consuming to create and in many cases, difficult to shoot. Especially with clients who aren’t local, it’s very difficult to coach non-techy clients on how to shoot content. Furthermore, Reels cannot be pre-scheduled. This means that SMM’s are going to have to either send content to clients to have them hopefully post at the correct time with correct captions and tags. OR, what we’re doing with our clients, logging in at posting time, even on nights and weekends, to make sure that the content goes live when it needs to. Maybe FB/IG can get on those scheduling options at the same time?
What do you think of these announced changes with Instagram? How will they affect your business or brand?