Even if you don’t follow the latest in social media news, if you’ve been anywhere near Instagram lately you’ve probably caught wind of some of the platform’s most recent news.
Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently gave some updates on the app via a video posted to Twitter, sharing that Instagram will soon start showing recommended, full-screen videos on users’ feeds, along with photos and videos from people they know (as we’re used to seeing now). This means potentially less control over what you see in your own feed, with videos coming from accounts you don’t follow.
The culprit, according to Mosseri: the massive popularity of apps like TikTok, which has rocketed video to the top of the list of the most in-demand content types by users worldwide. “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app,” said Mosseri in the video clip. “Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge, YouTube is even bigger, and there’s lots of other upstarts as well. So people are looking to Instagram to be entertained. There’s stiff competition and there’s more to do—then we have to embrace that.”
The announcement went down about as well as you might expect: People started freaking out. And, I think, rightfully so. Instagram has been our destination for photo-sharing for years, and individuals and brands have worked hard to cultivate not only the presence but the skills to stand out. And as Instagram continuously touts its efforts to help creators earn a living on the app by giving them the tools to succeed, this move feels like a slight against that stated goal.
We really don’t know how this strategy shift will play out. The good news is, photos on Instagram aren’t going away. But the algorithms at play are most certainly going to change, making any current strategies a brand may use less predictably successful—at least for right now. But Instagram needs to tread carefully. In its quest to compete with platforms like YouTube and TikTok, it’s possible it could lose its identity and forget what brought people to it in the first place: photos. Yes, we’re loving videos right now, and Instagram’s current video offerings seem to be keeping up pretty well with its competitors’. But to say Instagram is no longer a photo app makes its position vulnerable to new developers waiting in the wings—there are a lot of users that still very much value a platform for their imagery, and if Instagram doesn’t want to cater to them, someone else might.
Many accounts I follow expressed disappointment and uncertainty about this announcement, though there were also many that chose to adopt a roll-with-the-punches attitude. Some of the best advice I saw, in a nutshell? Don’t rely solely on social media for your success. It’s vital, in that there is no doubt. But having your own destination that is in your control—particularly when social media apps, always evolving as they are, are anything but—is the smartest thing you can do. For retailers, that means a great website. For content creators, that means a blog or something similar. It’s important, inspirational, and a very good thing when social media users see success on any given app, and every day there are more opportunities and more money to be made on them. But that can all go away in an instant, so creating your own space for your audience, a place where they can always find you no matter what platform comes next, feels more vital than ever.
So for now, keep calm and carry on. Adapt to doing more video if you’re comfortable, but if you feel like photography is really your strength, stick with what works best for you. While it’s important to change with the tides, especially in an effort to appeal to new generations of shoppers, it’s also crucial for businesses to stay true to themselves. You can have a hand in every single social media app out there, but if you don’t focus on creating a central home for yourself—like a destination website—even the most successful business can see it all go away in an instant. Make sure your followers know where to find you.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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