Remember the days where Instagram was all about having an immaculately curated feed? Regardless of whether you’re into fashion, food or sports, content creators spent hours planning the perfect photo. Creating content on Instagram was hard work, from scouting for new backdrops and staging flat lays to obsessing over angles and scrabbling to shoot during golden hour.
As Instagram continues to push out new updates that change the way the app functions, those days are gone now.
The algorithm doesn’t care about your acquaintances.
In June 2021, Instagram launched a new experiment with algorithm-chosen content. ‘Suggested Posts’ will now appear on users’ main feeds instead of just the Explore page, sometimes before the posts of people you follow.
Giving free rein to algorithm-chosen content is a nod to Instagram turning away from its “square photo-sharing app” brand. As company head Adam Mosseri explains in an Instagram post, research shows that the top reason people use the app is for entertainment. In order to fulfil that function, Instagram is proactively introducing fresh content to its users. That means that a random influencer’s account might make its way to your feed before your friend’s birthday post, given that they are pushing out content that you resonate with.
On the flip side, content creators might struggle with stagnant engagement. Content creators, especially those who have been around for some time, might find themselves receiving lower engagement as their loyal followers discover new content. There is more noise in the Instagram game than ever, and content creators need to find an effective way to stand out from the crowd lest they drown in it.
It was found that video posts receive 150 comments on average, a higher average than image and carousel posts combined. The video format generally performs better on Instagram, which brings me to my next point.
Video killed the Instagram star
Who said a picture speaks a thousand words? Not anymore.
As the video format began gaining traction over the past few years, Instagram has released more immersive video features – the app slowly launched new functions like Stories, IGTV, Reels and a full-screen video experience for video formats.
The Instagram interface is beginning to emulate Tiktok, and people are starting to notice. Combined with their pivot to algorithm-driven content, the app faced backlash from many content creators who accused it of alienating the original Instagram community. But not without good reason – TikTok (29%) narrowly edged out Instagram (25%) as teens’ preferred social platform of choice in 2020.
Visual creatives like photographers will be hit harder by Instagram’s efforts to “embrace video more broadly”, as Adam Mosseri puts it. Content creators that relied on static posts previously need to evolve to video formats. This doesn’t have to compromise the quality of their visual work – they could expand their repertoire to more relatable lifestyle content, such as behind-the-scenes clips.
Love it or hate it, it is undeniable that the latest Instagram updates are pushing content creators to innovate. This innovation is already spearheaded by Instagram, which launched a text translation feature in 2021, including the differently-abled in their campaign to promote the video format. Following in Instagram’s footsteps, there is much potential for progress in the social media industry.