With its heavy focus on video, it should be clear by now where Instagram (and its parent company Meta) is taking its platform. But is it the right direction?
The immediate backlash to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri’s recent explainer video seems to indicate that users of those apps aren’t sympathetic to the recent changes to their beloved photo and video sharing app. It’s clear they don’t want IG to become a TikTok clone.
In fact, in the answers to Mosseri’s tweeted video were overwhelmingly negative reactions, a Hall Please stop it.
enough. I love Instagram because it’s Instagram and not a generic social app trying to be a third-rate version of what 13-year-olds are using right now. Please don’t lose sight of why people use the app. I know a lot of people work hard, but it’s embarrassing.
– matt (@mattxiv) July 26, 2022
But right now, Instagram and Meta are clearly committed to competing with TikTok. The Verge reported in June that an internal memo revealed that Facebook plans to fundamentally overhaul Facebook to better compete with the hugely popular short-form video app. And then, less than a week ago, Instagram announced a series of TikTok-related changes to its platform, signaling more of a linchpin for videos, which many users have opposed.
While Mosseri’s video said that IG “would continue to support photos,” his statement did little to allay concerns that Instagram’s latest features would take the app in a direction its users seem largely disapproving of. And it’s not just the push for video content that bothers them. Not being able to see more of their friends’ posts is another problem:
I guess for me it’s not just that I’m bad at making videos. It’s like I don’t see my actual friends’ posts and they don’t see mine, and I keep seeing the same people over and over again, then the feed says, “You’re all caught up!”
— Chrissy Teigen (@chrissyteigen) July 26, 2022
Another concern IG users have? Being “bombarded” with videos by people they don’t know and suggested posts. IG users also don’t seem to want featured posts in their feeds:
Yes. I don’t need recommendations, that’s what the Explore page is for. Leave our feeds alone!
– Migs 📸 (@_Miggles) July 27, 2022
But Instagram continues to push this switch to video (and its unwanted feed recommendations), even as many of its own users are vocally unhappy about it. So the question remains: Is it worth competing with TikTok, ignoring the backlash from IG’s current users?
If these reply tweets — some of which came from celebrities and other blue check Twitter accounts — are any indication, it’s hard to see how. This might be a fight IG shouldn’t be fighting. When numerous IG users are taking to other platforms like Twitter to let you know that your last steps aren’t working, it might be time to listen to them.
Instead of putting so much thought into what TikTok does, Instagram could be better positioned for success if they just focused on their own niche and what makes their app special. And that’s photos in all their glory: selfies, thirst traps, Notes apologies, vacation photo dumps, food photos, and cute animal pics. IG is a digital scrapbook for hot girls’ summers, cozy girls’ autumns and photos of all the big and small moments in life before, during and after these seasons. It’s been like that forever.
Trying to emulate TikTok’s unique success is unlikely to work.
Twitter is for drama and gossip and diving into bad takes. TikTok stands for chaos and viral trends. Pinterest is a vision board for the ideal life we want to live. And Instagram is best for casually keeping up with the lives of our loved ones, mindlessly scrolling through beautiful photos of food, fashion, travel, and cute animals.
Sometimes, competing successfully with others in a crowded landscape means figuring out what makes you unique and finding your own lane and simply being the best at that one unique thing. In this case, trying to emulate TikTok’s unique success to assert dominance over all other social media apps is unlikely to bring the longevity and success that Instagram and Meta ultimately want. Instead, it’s likely to further alienate current Instagram users, mostly because this push to be more like TikTok fundamentally misunderstands how people use social media.
People who use social media aren’t necessarily looking for one app that can do everything. They often have different purposes for each platform they use.
Just let Instagram be Instagram and TikTok can only be TikTok. There is room for both on our phones.
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