Popular social media service Instagram is reconsidering its move to a TikTok-style video feed after recent changes have proved wildly unpopular with its fanbase.
For the past few weeks, Instagram has been testing a version of the app that opens into a feed of full-screen photos and videos, seemingly trying to transform the service into something more akin to TikTok. Similarly, the new feed also pushes seemingly random “recommended” posts, crowding out content from the people Instagram users actually want to follow.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri has now announced that the social media platform will “take a big step back and regroup”. Mosseri announced the reversal an interview with The Verge Casey Newton added: “I’m glad we took a risk – if we don’t fail every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough.”
Mind you, this isn’t a permanent pullback, and Mosseri clarifies that Instagram plans to “work through” and learn from the changes to “come back with some sort of new idea or iteration.” The social media service is temporarily suspending the app’s full-screen trial and temporarily reducing the number of featured posts and accounts. However, the goal is to refine the personalization algorithms and try again with a feed that delights users by providing more relevant recommendations.
“When you discover something in your field that you haven’t followed before, the bar should be set high – it should just be great. You should be pleased to see it,” Mosseri told Newton, acknowledging that this is not currently the case.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these changes prompted a massive backlash from fans unhappy with what is becoming their favorite social media service. Twitter is full of tweets from frustrated users that quickly rack up tens of thousands of likes and retweets, and Celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian have chimed inwhich insists parent company Meta “make Instagram Instagram again”.
If Kylie Jenner speaks it, your platform is in trouble. Never forget Snap lost over $1 billion when she said she stopped opening Snapchat (2018) before the redesign pic.twitter.com/jkmAuWoFen
— Ashley Carman (@ashleyrcarman) July 25, 2022
However, it wasn’t just the public outcry that caused Instagram to take a step back and reverse these changes. The company’s own analyzes also showed how unpopular the new design was in practice. While almost all social media is seeing a shift from photos to videos, Instagram may have moved too impulsively. Mosseri said the “high-profile dissatisfaction” is supported by Instagram’s own internal data. However, the most severe criticism seems to focus on the design changes.
The new Instagram update really got what I was looking for:
– no content from my friends
– Reposted TikToks from meme accounts I don’t follow
– 100x more ads
– everything played against my will at full volume
— Meg Watson (@msmegwatson) July 14, 2022
“People are frustrated with the new feed designs and the usage data isn’t great,” Mosseri told The Verge. “So I think we need to take a big step back, regroup and figure out how we want to move forward.”
One thing that seems clear, however, is that Instagram’s targeting of videos isn’t going away. In a recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg shared that the time people spent watching reels increased 30% over the past quarter. There is clearly a demand for algorithmically recommended short videos and Meta will continue to work towards giving it a prominent place on both Facebook and Instagram. The biggest challenge for Mosseri and his team will be getting it into the app in a way that complements rather than distracts from the Instagram experience.
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