In an attempt to compete with TikTok, social media marketing platform, Instagram, is moving further away from its photographic roots and more towards video and entertainment.
A video published to Twitter by head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, declares that Instagram is ‘no longer a photo-sharing app’ and is now ‘leaning into’ video and entertainment.
”We’re no longer a photo-sharing app, or a square photo-sharing app. The number one reason people say they use Instagram in research is to be entertained. So this past week in our internal all hands, we shared a lot about what we’re trying to lean into that trend – into entertainment and into video. Because let’s be honest, there is some really serious competition right now.’
Changes are coming to video on Instagram 📺
At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. pic.twitter.com/ezFp4hfDpf
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) June 30, 2021
Those familiar with Instagram’s developments since the 2012 Facebook acquisition will view Mosseri’s statement as the bleeding obvious.
Instagram has incrementally transitioned from an authentic photo sharing platform into a commercial monster driven by a lifeless algorithm that tightly controls engagement and reach. Competing video sharing social media platforms have also entered the fray, including the likes of Snapchat and YouTube and more recently the Chinese-owned TikTok. Instagram has challenged these social networks by ‘leaning’ hard into video-centric features by introducing Stories, Reels, and IGTV. If it ‘leaned’ any harder it may well topple over.
Snapchat and TikTok-style video features have been a success, as they encourage users to engage with more content for longer than just scrolling through a traditional static Instagram feed.
Mosseri says Instagram will introduce recommendations – posts in the Instagram feed ‘showing you things you may not be following yet’. It’s a continuation of Instagram’s commercialisation by using an algorithm to dictate what users see, rather than giving them more decision-making automony.
For many businesses, including professional photographers, Instagram is essential for marketing. And for most of Instagram’s existence, this marketing has primarily consisted of posting pictures with captions. Although as the platform ‘leans into’ new areas like video, many Instagram-centric photographers have been challenged to maintain the same level of organic audience engagement.
Instagram’s enormous impact on professional photography has been both positive and negative. Many photographers have built entire careers off the platform, while others have scored jobs where the client simply needed photos for the ‘Gram.
TikTok is a much trickier platform for a photographer to master. It’s hard to establish where photography fits among the synchronised dancing, pranks, viral content, and fast-paced videos. And the influence TikTok has on Instagram doesn’t look like it will benefit the average professional photographer.
Could it be that a new photographer-friendly app will emerge Phoenix-like from the ashes of IG’s Big Lean?