For the past 13 years, since Instagram became a thing, the platform has been the go-to for still image based social content. Based on the concept of sharing photos with friends, Instagram updates have acted as the key to keeping up with, and evolving, the times of social media. However, where we saw impactful updates like the introduction of messenger, the addition of carousel posts, and the kick-off of Stories, Instagram seemed to have slightly missed the mark with their Reels launch in 2020.
Following the social media explosion that was TikTok, rival platforms, such as Instagram, have aimed to keep up and compete. However, Instagram now seems to indicate it hasn’t quite lived up to expectations in its attempt to step out its lane. Conquering the world of still images, Instagram attempted to transform itself into a direct competitor to TikTok. With Gen Z adopting TikTok in an astronomical way pre-pandemic, and its continued success since, Instagram had some catching up to do.
Instagram Reels now has 2 billion active monthly users, an impressive feat. However, TikTok is still six times the engagement rates that Reels are. So, did Instagram get it wrong?
Instagram Updates or Instagram Backtracks?
In February, we saw some new Instagram updates come into play. Most of which seem to shift the balance of the platform. Where we once saw the Reels tab take centre stage, the Create tab shifted back into the spotlight.
After an initial retaliation from Instagram users, including some big-name influencers, due to the push to create and watch Reels, the subsequent ‘miss’ on the performance of Reels has ultimately resulted in some back-tracking. Including the side-lining of the Reels button. Despite these Instagram updates quickly becoming the norm, perhaps Meta felt they’d never quite won the users over and that’s why this seemingly ‘back-tracking’ has come into play.
We’re not saying Reels are done and dusted. They’re sticking around and still receive a huge amount of audience interaction and user engagement, however, whilst the Instagram updates previously shoved it to the forefront, there is some indication that the platform is shift back towards what it knows best – photos.
Instagram’s Domination of Photo-based Social Sharing
Instagram’s success came from its simplicity. You take and share photos of your life for your followers to see, like, and comment on. Pre-existing platforms such as Facebook, had a more community-based approach, and Twitter was heavy on the copy-side of socialising. Whereas Instagram was all about the photos.
It’s now a huge resource for marketing, with organic and paid social marketing being a huge source of new leads and income for businesses. One of Instagram’s updates in recent years was the introduction of ‘Instagram Shop’, which further boosted sales for companies operating on the social media site. Plus, with the opportunity to post lasting content on Instagram feeds, and short-lived, reactive content on Stories, businesses were able to increase their audience reach.
Why then has Reels not taken off in the same way as TikTok? In truth it kind of has. Arguably, there is more marketing capabilities on Instagram than on TikTok, with more opportunities to divert traffic and make purchases through the Instagram shop.
There is no knocking what Instagram has achieved with Reels. Instagram remains in the top 5 most downloaded apps, and with a 22% increase on engagement rates with Reels over regular Instagram videos the app has made its mark in the world of video and visual content.
Having said all this, Instagram seem to be making the conscious choice to focus on photos again rather than put all their eggs into the video basket. The Instagram updates that previously shone the light onto Reels, such as the button positions and the ‘full-screen’ visual experience have been dropped or re-thought. Making us aware that the platform is re-thinking its direction.
In the end, we’re likely to see Instagram continue to improve its usage of Reels, as well as bring some limelight back onto photo content. However, don’t go anywhere because the rivalry between itself and TikTok is not likely to dissipate any time soon. We’ll be watching as Meta and ByteDance battle it out with new Instagram updates and TikTok advancements over the years to come.
What does this Instagram update have to do with you?
New social media updates are always catching our eye at MacMartin. They raise questions on how it will impact our clients, and we like to stay ahead of the game. That is why, it’s interesting to consider how this Instagram update might make the future of Instagram look.
For now, we still think it can be great to make use of Instagram Reels. If it’s working for you – keep at it. Particularly, if you are already making the most of TikTok, as cross posting content or replicating content for both can be an easy way to get further reach on your video. It is best practice to optimise your videos for each platform, however. So, it’s worth considering how much your company gets out of the organic posting on Reels and TikTok. That’s where a helping hand could come in useful.
Get in touch and we can advise how best to move forward with your social media, whether that be for Reels or otherwise. We take into consideration the trends and the updates in the social media world to point you in the right direction and deliver campaign strategies that will work to achieve your business goals.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to chat.