Aside from COVID, crocs and a worrying sense of paranoia, TikTok is definitely the standout talking point since 2020. The social media platform has become a tool for news, entertainment, trends and it looks like the latest algorithm change at Instagram is determined to beat it at its own game.
The good folk of Instagram even said it themselves. In a post on Instagram and Twitter, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said that the OG photo sharing app is no longer about photos but about videos, looking to elbow its way into the entertainment table dominated by YouTube and now TikTok.
In the statement, Mosseri lays out the changes that are focused on creating a richer video experience.
“We’re also going to experiment with embracing video more broadly,” he says in the post. “Full-screen video, immersive, entertaining, for mobile devices,” he explained. “You will see us do a number of things or experiment with various things in this space over the next few months.”
TikTok’s impact has seen even the likes of Twitter change their offering, the short-lived Fleets; Instagram was fairly quick to early adaption by introducing Reels. It had already brought in Stories to combat the popularity of Snapchat and IGTV was kicked off in 2018.
While it’s one thing to keep up with the competition, it’s also true that the ‘Gram has a tendency to consistently muck about the backwoods of its own product in ways that rarely really improve user experience. (It does, of course, improve internal monetising via ad revenue.)
One of our favourite accounts to follow, Sydney’s Jordan Turner, was an early adopted of video in his posts. When everyone else was still posting golden hour, Turner was using glitch filters and short film motion techniques. The co-owner of Gertrude and Alice bookstore says that this evolution of Instagram to preference video has felt inevitable.
“I am not surprised by the call to change as this isn’t the first time – and I know it won’t be the last – that we’ve been thrown a curveball from Instagram,” Turner tells ICON. “I’m also not angry at it as I believe it’s also part of our job to be adaptable and grow with changes that are simply outside of our control.”
This next phase of the Instagram life journey is alleged to be more focused on those longer videos, rather than the short bursts favoured by TikTok. How this works to their advantage – ie how it will make bank for the platform first – is yet to be clear. It’s also unsure what advantages there are to replicating the TikTok format. As social platforms become increasingly same-same, the novelty of using them also loses its edge.
And let’s not forget what happens when you overdesign the offering.
sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad.
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) February 21, 2018
While Snapchat has somewhat regained the ground it lost, we’ll always remember where we were when Kylie Jenner, the platform’s biggest celebrity user, declared it was over. (February 22, 2018 – I was in Venice on a job writing about Louis Vuitton sneakers. Good times. Just not for Evan Spiegel.)
Turner’s approach to the changes – and any future changes to come – is a pragmatic one. “Updates are challenging. They’re the construction, development, and road works of the digital sphere – which means there is nothing we can do to stop it. If we aren’t used to adapting and moving with updates and changes, then we aren’t in the right profession.
“I think as someone who already has an understanding of videography, editing, and creating dynamic content for my audience and for brands I do have an upper hand. For friends or fellows in the industry who aren’t already familiar it will definitely be challenging to start learning something new.”
We already know that Instagram continually moves the goalposts with their updates to algorithms. By the time you finish reading this, get the rhythm of the current wave, it will most likely change again.