Instagram fights to stay relevant

In 2012, when Facebook (now Meta) acquired Instagram, the photo-sharing app beloved by millions, for $1 billion, it looked like another billion-dollar acquisition by a Big Corporation. Tech. In 2014, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that “in 5 years, most [Facebook] will be video,” his statement was seen as a threat to the dominance of Google-owned YouTube, the home of online video. But that threat would not materialize then. In November 2015, Facebook revealed that its 500 million users watch 8 billion videos every day. It looks like Facebook was grooming its newly acquired startup, Instagram, to be the standard bearer for its video vision.

Instagram started out as an image-sharing platform, and it wasn’t until 2013 that it started supporting video content. Since then, IG has launched a series of features that support video content: Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live, and Reels.

Recently, Instagram’s algorithm showed users popular content – photos and videos – from people they don’t follow. This trend and recent testing of a full-screen “immersive experience” home stream that will see videos become the focus of the app has seen the app receive backlash for becoming more like TikTok. On Tuesday, media moguls Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who have a combined 687 million followers on the platform, joined thousands of other Instagram users in urging IG to “stop trying to be TikTok “.

“Remake Instagram Instagram. Stop trying to be TikTok. I just want to see cute pictures of my friends. Sincerely, everyone,” reads the message over the lead image of a Change.org petition shared on Facebook. The sisters’ story The petition, launched on July 22, has garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

While arguably the massive success of TikTok has played a part in the urgency with which IG is moving to video, it would appear that IG isn’t duplicating TikTok but is following a predetermined roadmap – given the comments aforementioned Zuckerberg in 2014 and Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram 2 years prior.

As fears of Instagram’s move to videos hit a new high, in one video he posted on tuesday Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri allays user fears that Instagram will continue to support photos, but he also dwelt on the app’s desire to focus more on videos.

“I’m hearing a lot of concerns right now about photos and how we’re transitioning to video. Now I want to be clear, we will continue to support photos. It’s part of our heritage… That said, I have to be honest: I believe more and more Instagram is going to go video over time,” Mosseri said in the video. “If you look at what people like, consume and see on Instagram, it’s increasingly moving to video over time, even when we stop changing anything. We will therefore have to look into this change.

Earlier in May, Mosseri had said a move to videos was imminent. “We’re moving Instagram to a place where video is a bigger part of the home experience,” Mosseri said.

Every month, 1 billion people log on to TikTok to access various content including dances and lip sync videos that make them laugh, learn and experience new things. Since its launch 5 years ago, the rise of TikTok globally has reignited a competition for the attention of social media users once dominated by Silicon Valley social media companies. In 2020, YouTube, known for its long videos, officially dabbled in shortened content with the launch of YouTube Shorts to allow creators to create and share 15-60 second video content with their mobile phones. The feature showed that YouTube was finally taking the competition posed by TikTok, Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, and the rested Twitter Fleets and Linkedin Stories seriously.

In 2010, when Instagram was launched, co-founder Kevin Systrom created a logo that looked like a Polaroid camera to represent that Instagram stood for photo sharing. Over the years, Instagram has become the home of aesthetic images. But now photographers, who have driven Instagram’s rise as a photo-sharing app, are skeptical of the app’s ability to continue supporting their work. Emmanuel Samakinwa, a photographer working in Lagos, no longer feels welcome on the platform and is looking for other ways to showcase his work. “They don’t push photos anymore. Instagram is no longer for photos. And we are photographers. We use photos a lot. So it’s no longer a place for us. Of course, we are still on the platform until something else comes along,” he said.

According to a survey conducted earlier this year in the United States, the average TikTok user spends 50% more time on the app each day than the typical user spends on Instagram. Additionally, IG has multiple incentives to focus on video. For example, despite being called Snapchat’s heartthrob, 5 months after the launch of Instagram Stories, the feature reached 150 million daily users, a number that had taken the entire industry 6 years to complete. Snapchat app. Earlier in April, on an earnings call, Meta announced that Reels account for more than 20% of the time people spend on Instagram. It’s not unlikely that Instagram has also been eyeing up the success of YouTube Shorts. In just 2 years since its launch, YouTube Shorts has surpassed 1.5 billion monthly users, and IG will be ready to replicate that success and likely steal users from Shorts and TikTok.

As Instagram evolves, brand owners and content creators are most pressured to adapt.

“This means that for brands and content creators to gain visibility or reach a wider audience, they will need to include video in their social strategy, especially short video content due to diminished attention spans. users,” digital marketing expert Karen Okoro told TechCabal.

“Even though we love and are addicted to the platform, IG remains a business at the heart of it, and like all businesses, it must evolve with the interests of its consumers. We keep saying we don’t want see than our friends, but that’s not what we scroll through most often,” said Nigerian writer Maryam Adetona. “The fact remains that we collectively tend to appreciate short clips more, and yes, TikTok helped speed up this format somewhat, but we consume a lot of it, the algorithm shows, and IG doubles the bet.

Following the backlash from users last week, yesterday Instagram said it was changing its mind about recent changes to its platform. The company has promised to phase out full-screen feature testing over the next 1-2 weeks and reduce the number of recommended posts users see from people they don’t follow while working online. improvement of its algorithm.

“For new flow designs, people get frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” Mosseri said in an interview with Casey Newton of Platformer, a tech newsletter.

Instagram is committed to showing fewer recommendations to users, and meanwhile, it wants to continue improving the content it recommends to individual users. “When you discover something in your feed that you haven’t followed before, the bar should be set high, it should be awesome. You should be thrilled to see it. And I don’t think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of streams that are recommendations, improve rankings and recommendations, and then, if and when we do, we can start growing again.

For content creators, this proposed change means they need to scale to a point where they’re creating platform-friendly content. “As content creators, we are constantly evolving. I used to share a lot of long videos, but then Instagram Reels came along and I started sharing 30 second to 1 minute videos. When you are in the creative space, you have to constantly evolve,” said Jay On-air, a popular Nigerian content creator who posts content on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. “But the truth is, it’s not just content creators who want to be on the platform. Other people just want to be on the platform, just to see their friends and family members.

Although it agreed to roll back the changes, Instagram says it was informed by its own internal data about the growing popularity of videos among users and the massive growth TikTok has enjoyed. Instagram admits the rollback on these changes is temporary as the company returns to the drawing board.

The lure of video is too enticing for the company as it’s what has made TikTok the most downloaded app so far this year and the most visited website in 2021. Instagram has a lot of work to do to do to seamlessly integrate videos in a way that doesn’t change its role as a way to track the activities of friends and family and maintains its legacy as a static photo app. But its success as a platform that relies heavily on videos is not guaranteed as it is still seen as a photo sharing app. It will have to fight hard to tear users away from the already dominant video-sharing platforms.

“I believe Instagram hasn’t taken hold of the video market yet because it didn’t start out as a video app, and there’s still a perception of Instagram as a photo app, versus its competitors,” Okoro said.

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