Instagram and it’s Identity Crisis
Calling Instagram HQ 🤳
Instagram is continually surprising its users, but not always in a good way. The number of changes in the last few years shows a desire to blend in with other apps and sites. But have they lost their own sense of identity along the way?
Sometimes we open the app and a whole section of content has moved or suddenly you are seeing accounts you haven’t followed or liked in months. We just want to pop our heads round into the Insta HQ boardroom and see *what’s going on in there?*
Reeling in the years ⌚
When Instagram first came to fruition, back in the days of old, its core focus was imagery. Photography, artwork, lots of selfies and not a whole lot of talking. Revert to now and we are constantly engaging with reels, chatty stories and long-form video content with users sharing every single part of their day. It is more common for users to open their Instagram app to respond to a group chat rather than browse through people’s photos.
But it depends how you look at the situation. Constant videos can be a bit over-stimulating or annoying if you follow a page for their photos. However, it has its bonuses too, with so much more personality oozing from the platform. Especially for businesses, these new features deepen the breadth of options for the platform, giving you a number of routes to target your audience.
We thought we’d reflect on our experience of Instagram for business and offer some suggestions to take its changes in your stride.
Photography first 📸
Instagram is an excellent source of communication, entertainment and digital marketing. Originally an app dedicated to photography, they have come a long way, transforming into something much more than that. The app is a space where you can connect with friends, follow brands and share your life – it is incredibly influential and constantly changing.
The platform is saturated with photos, however being seen by users organically has become increasingly difficult over the years. Hashtags, once a source of immediate engagement, have to now be used more intentionally to reach relevant users. Similarly, accounts exist to share other companies and products in exchange for sponsorship or advertising, leading to a large influencer culture.
Depending on how old you are, you will remember a number of these popular social platforms popping up. The user statistics are astonishing, and each platform has a different key demographic.
The search for fresh ideas 🔎
The app is constantly evolving before our eyes, however its features aren’t necessarily unique to Instagram.
Instagram Stories were directly inspired by Snapchat, whilst Live Streams were once exclusive to Facebook. Furthermore, IGTV was a long-form competitor for YouTube and now Reels are the new focus thanks to TikTok.
Even saving a post that you like to come back to has become a key algorithm indicator for engagement and will boost your visibility – hello, Pinterest?
Every platform now appears to have a space for trending topics, and also, many now have in-app advertising and shopfronts to purchase directly from brands and small businesses.
Many Instagram users and professionals are becoming continually frustrated with the app, with features they know changing or disappearing. A desire for chronological feeds is ever present after the switch in 2016.
The important question however, is, are they copycats or are these decisions part of a wider strategy? Is having a little bit of everything the perfect recipe for success? Or is it overkill?
Business amongst the busyness 💼
Amongst all these changes, the important thing to query is – is Instagram still beneficial for my business? As a Digital Marketing agency, our answer is yes. But your focus might have to shift to accommodate.
The benefit of many social media platforms adopting similar models, is that content can be reused or redrafted to suit different audiences – as long as the platforms are relevant.
It might be worth investing in a test advertising campaign to validate the market. This can ensure that your users are populating where you expect them to.
If you have the resources, creating short-form content can be massively beneficial to help sell a product, service or lifestyle. These videos are succinct, anywhere from 6 seconds to 3 minutes. They can showcase what you have to offer in a more informal and engaging way. Typically, Reels receive 22% more interest than regular Instagram video content. They also reach a larger demographic than TikTok overall.
Capturing user interest 👁️
Younger generations’ attention spans are shortening, meaning that you need to capture their interest early into a video to ensure they don’t keep scrolling. Your content will be aligned with audiences that share similar interests to your account. Reels can feature on the Instagram explore page or flag up if you use relevant, targeted hashtags.
According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, 87% of Gen Z users view Reels and TikTok as “basically the same”. 81% of Gen Z stated that Instagram and YouTube are their preferred social platforms of choice. When asked which platforms Gen Z want to see brands use more of, 56% said Instagram and 38% said YouTube.
One of the vital things for social media users is feeling that the brands they follow are engaging and trustworthy. The more down to earth the content, the more they feel they can relate with your brand.
Instagram and Influencers
Considering the benefit of influencer marketing is important too, with many short-form creators showcasing or reviewing products. Either for free or through sponsorship. This gives your brand a larger audience to speak to. This can also mean you have additional video content to repost on your own social feeds.
Often users have already instilled time and trust into an influencer’s content, meaning that they will trust a positive review the most. MuseFind found that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.
Big collaborations are also a great way to reach new users, with Reels allowing you to use Enhanced Tags to tag collaborators and businesses together, with content appearing on both brand/people’s feeds.
More and more so business and social are blending, with brands getting on board with internet jokes and trends, such as TikTok dances and BeReal content. Regardless if a brand adopts all social media accounts or just one, it is impossible not to see reference to other corners of the internet.
Moving Forwards or Moving Back ⏪
The question is, is this blend of trends intentional? And is it valuable for businesses?
We believe the answer is yes – by having this crossover (*cough* Metaverse) of platforms in one space, it is easier to ensure your content can be seen by users. By having a mix of organically shown and curated content, the potential for furthering audience engagement is huge.
We recommend considering each platform, looking at user statistics and deciding whether a platform is suitable for the demographic you’re targeting. For example, if your target audience is 15-35 and you already use Instagram, there’s no harm in sharing the same content to TikTok or adding an extra medium to your content to push further views. If you would like help identifying your target audience get in touch with us!
Using Reels is a great way to introduce a series, raise awareness, show personality, behind the scenes and more, and this can be shared elsewhere – especially TikTok, Facebook and YouTube.
Embracing change 😌
We believe that half the battle with social media is understanding, adopting new trends and growing with upcoming generations.
Instagram is such a largely used app, despite users feeling frustrated with the changes. Perhaps shifting the way you use the site or tailoring your content could make a big difference.