Instagram, as we know it, is changing. But that’s not something new. It has been happening slowly for years now. First, the company introduced personalised video feed and a new Explore tab with focus on video channels in 2016. As the shift from chronological feed to personalised feed started settling in among Instagram users, the company introduced IGTV (or Instagram TV) videos on its platform in a bid to compete with long-form videos offered by YouTube. It also launched a separate IGTV app, which it shut down in March this year. Then two years later as TikTok’s popularity suddenly soared, the company introduced Reels. Two years since then, the company’s top bosses have revealed exactly what they have for platform — focus on videos.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri, in a video shared on Twitter earlier this week, said that Instagram will continue to move away from photos and focus more on videos going forward. “…I need to be honest — I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time,” the Instagram boss said in the video.
“So, we’re going to have to lean into that shift [of people consuming more videos] while continuing to support photos,” he added.
The video followed a message shared by Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner wherein they criticised Instagram for trying to copy TikTok. “Stop trying to be tiktok I just want to see cute photos of my friends,” the duo shared in a petition shared this week. Their concerns were echoed by thousands of Instagram users on various social media platforms.
If you want to know more about what he said, you can watch the video here:
👋🏼 There’s a lot happening on Instagram right now.
I wanted to address a few things we’re working on to make Instagram a better experience.
Please let me know what you think 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/x1If5qrCyS
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) July 26, 2022
If that isn’t direct enough for you, then Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg, while addressing the shareholders at an earnings call earlier this week cemented Instagram’s fate forever. Zuckerberg told the shareholder that going forward, the company will more than double the amount of content from recommended accounts people see on its platforms. He also said that this number stood at around 15 percent at the moment and that it would go up to 30 percent by the end of 2023. This change will take place on both, Facebook and Instagram, with the percentage being much higher on the photo and ehmm…video-sharing app.
“Social feeds are going from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also being driven by AI recommending content that you’ll find interesting from across Facebook and Instagram, even if you don’t follow those creators,” Zuckerberg told the investors.
“We expect these numbers to double by the end of next year,” he added.
What this means for the end users is that Instagram, as we know it, is dead.
First, Instagram users will see less content by the accounts that they don’t follow in their feed. This content will be based on what the company thinks you will like or in other words you will get addicted to. It may or may not be what you want to see in the app. It will also include more and more videos as it is likely to keep you hooked to the platform for a longer duration.
Second, with the changes that Meta has in plans for Instagram, you will see less of photos and more of videos in the feed on photo and video sharing platform. RIP photos on Instagram!
Third, with these changes you will also see less content from the people and pages that you follow on the platform, unless of course, they are videos and they are trending, in which they are likely to crop up in your feed and of millions of Instagram users across the globe. Or you can switch to the Following Feed. But Instagram is likely to favour videos over photos there as well.
Now, this change might seem as a way for Meta to compete with TikTok. But there’s more to it than that.
Simply put, there is method to this madness. And the reason is revenue.
The Meta founder at the company’s earnings call revealed that that Meta has made more than a $1 billion via Reels ads. While addressing the shareholders and investors, he also revealed that the amount of time spent on Reels has increased roughly 30 percent compared to the last quarter. So, it is natural for the company to focus on its money-making functionality than anything else. It is also a win that the company needs after reporting its first decline in quarterly revenue since the time it went public. For reference, Meta reported a revenue of $28.82 billion in the part quarter, marking a decline of one percent compared to the revenue of $29.07 billion in the second quarter of 2021.
The outgoing COO Sheryl Sandberg blamed this trend on the decrease in value of Euro. “Foreign exchange trends had a significant impact in Q2, in particular the depreciation of the Euro relative to the dollar,” she said during the earnings call. However, it might be indicative of a bigger trend wherein users are moving away from Meta’s family of apps, or at least, Facebook and Instagram. Under such circumstances, Reels appears as a cash-cow that can give Meta the win it needs.
Simply put, Instagram users will have to put up with anything and everything that helps Meta meet its targets, whether they like it or not.
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