Instagram Is Making Big Changes: Will This Help or Hurt Small Businesses?
Isadora Teich wrote this article
Instagram is infamous for its unpopular platform updates and ideas. For example, users have been complaining about them getting rid of their chronological feed for years.
Meta’s idea to create an Instagram app, especially for kids, was so controversial that they were essentially shamed out of it by the public.
Suppose you are a small business owner or entrepreneur looking to use social media to grow your business. In that case, Instagram’s constant changes can feel more like a personal attack than a golden opportunity.
Let’s take a look at their latest changes, which seem to be another step in morphing the site into TikTok. Why is this happening? And what does it mean for small businesses?
Why Does Instagram Keep Changing?
It’s important to keep in mind that while we use social media products as daily tools, they are run by massive corporations. Like all corporate businesses, they are under pressure to grow their influence and revenue forever.
They have to do this regardless of how it effects their users or society in general. This is clearly illustrated Twitter’s lack of regard for the part many experts say their site plays in global violence and political instability.
According to the head of Instagram, Adam Moseri, Instagram is mostly making changes these days to compete with TikTok. Last summer, he published this Tweet about the upcoming changes. We are starting to see some of them come into play 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
All of these changes are being made because, as it stands now, Instagram has likely peaked. It is one of the biggest apps of the last 10 years and the app responsible for the rise of influencers and influencer marketing. However, it has been in decline since 2019.
It used to be a place where users could grow organically. Now it is known as a place where users have to pay Meta if they want their own followers to see their posts.
Also, younger people prefer TikTok. Gen-Z has clearly chosen TikTok, causing Instagram’s ‘coolness’ to decline. Experts speculate that by 2025, Instagram will be losing users every year.
So, let’s take a look at what Instagram is trying to get out of a tough spot. Also, what does it mean for your business?
Instagram Moves To Become More Like TikTok
Instagram has launched an initial test of a new, full-screen variation of its main feed display. This means that Instagram will start to look even more like TikTok.
The updated UI for this was actually spotted back in March. Reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi posted this example:
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) March 25, 2022
This has obviously been in the works for some time. Instagram has already said that it is no longer a photo-sharing app. This month, Meta noted that more than 20% of all of the time that users spend on Instagram is dedicated to Reels.
How Will This All Actually Work?
TechCrunch has reported that Stories will stay at the top of the screen in this new format. The Stories bar will stay positioned at the top of the app. However, this is likely to change in the future.
In the video example above, you can see that Stories are integrated into the full-screen display format. There is a frame indicator and the bottom of Stories posts. This prompts users to swipe left to see more content.
Andrew Hutchinson at Social Media Today presents the possibility that the final goal of Instagram is a fully integrated single-stream layout. Basically, all of Instagram’s content will be available in a single feed.
However, for now, there are some barriers to this. The way that Instagram currently monetizes its Stories feed is by showing ads between the Stories.
If they integrate stories into the main feed, they will lose one place that they advertise. However, as their monetization tools advance, it is possible that the future of Instagram will look very different.
It is likely a matter of time before Instagram uses only one main scrollable feed where users can find static image posts, Reels, and Stories.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
If you are trying to build a following on Instagram for your business, this means that you should prioritize Reels over photo posts. Instagram wants to push Reels, so it is rewarding users who create them with more reach.
In the past, many people who wanted to grow on Instagram would post photos all day long. Instead of doing this, focus on posting more Reels to gain reach. Then post casual Stories to keep your audience engaged once you find them via Reels.
Also, every social media site is trying to capture the viral magic of TikTok by introducing and pushing short content. If you make a Reel, it can appear in Stories on Facebook and Instagram. It can also be used on TikTok itself and as a YouTube short, for example.
If sites are trying to push short content by rewarding users for creating it, take advantage of that. After all, in the world of social media, nothing lasts forever. This window will undoubtedly close one day.
Also, think about how you can re-use and repurpose content when you make it. The world of social media is chaotic. As such, having your following spread across several platforms owned by different companies is the safest bet.
Platforms can change rules, algorithms, and what is acceptable on them at random. It is critical that you always keep this in mind.
For example, due to changes on YouTube and Instagram, it is almost impossible to go viral organically there as a small creator today. In years past, they were fame-makers for thousands of people.
Ultimately, Instagram’s changes can be a blessing for entrepreneurs looking to build a following.
They want you to make Reels content right now, and if you do that, they will likely reward you for it with reach you would never achieve with static posts.
Also, because of how these short videos can be repurposed and spread across various platforms, they are just smart content to create. It can only really benefit you to try.
Keep in mind that in the world of social media, things change very quickly. In 3 months, this might no longer be applicable. In a year, everyone might be obsessed with a whole new platform.
This is why it is smart to take advantage of opportunities like this quickly, and also try to spread your following amongst different platforms.
What do you think of Instagram’s changes? Comment below!
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