You may have read that headline and said, ‘Wait, what? Instagram isn’t becoming irrelevant, it’s the biggest social media platform in the world!’
Well, you would be right on one point.
Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms right now but will it still be the giant that it is in five years’ time? In two years’ time? Maybe even less?
Well, who knows but personally, I don’t think Instagram is doing all that great right now.
There seems to be a few up and coming competitors who are ready to take Instagram’s social media crown and if Instagram isn’t careful, they might just do it quicker than expected.
Related post: Is TikTok the New Instagram?
Is there too much going on?
Remember the days when Instagram was a platform for photographs and photographs alone?
We would take pictures of flowers, of our friends, of ourselves or our pets and write a caption followed by hitting ‘post’.
We didn’t care too much about how many likes we got, how many followers we had or how many hashtags we could add, we just liked to post and share photos that we liked.
Fast forward a few years and now we have this empire of photos, stories, videos, reels, IGTV, guides, shopping, swipe-ups, GIFS, lives, and more.
Like humans, social media apps evolve, and so it was only natural that Instagram would innovate and launch new features that users would love.
But have we lost the reason we came to the app in the first place?
We loved to share images and now our images are no longer shown to our followers in chronological order. The app favours videos and stories compared to images.
At its core, Instagram was a photo-sharing platform.
If you were to define the app now, what would you say? Is there so much happening on the app that it has now lost its identity?
Probably one of the biggest and most recent complaints about Instagram is the dreaded algorithm.
One day we all woke up to an Instagram feed that was no longer in chronological order. *Cue foreboding music*
As our love for the app quickly plummeted, so did our number of likes and rates of engagement.
Today, it seems that Instagram is no longer a ‘liking’ game. Where once we pined for as many likes as possible (some even went as far to buy likes), we now pine for saves and shares.
Save my post to a folder and watch as it ranks higher in the algorithm. Share my post to your story or to a friend and again, watch it rise in popularity.
Might Instagram have made it this way because we can’t buy saves and shares? Is it a way to fight the bots and the fake influencers?
But only for a matter of time. It won’t be long before websites are offering 1,000 saves per post for $5 I’m sure.
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Where is the originality?
I think we’ve all been waiting a long time for Instagram to come up with an original idea that actually worked out well for them.
Don’t get me wrong, Insta isn’t the only copycat out there as it appears every social media app is just copying what everyone else is launching and trying to make it their own with little to no differences.
Let’s look at Instagram stories, probably the most obvious of all.
Instagram took the idea from Snapchat that we could add images to ‘stories’ that would last only 24 hours. At the time, we loved Snapchat and didn’t think it would take off.
But now? Snapchat? I don’t know her.
I will give credit to Instagram that they did take stories and make them better.
We’re able to keep certain stories and add to highlights on our profile, we can add GIFs, question features, polls, images and more. It’s probably the most used feature on the platform, so kudos to Instagram for copying Snapchat’s idea.
Instagram reels, or as they were first known – TikTok videos.
TikTok exploded during the first lockdown back in March 2020 and Instagram took notice, copied the idea and ran with it. However, it doesn’t appear to have taken off too well with TikTok still attracting creators and users.
However, this may be a repeat case of Snapchat stories where we think TikTok is safe, but watch as Instagram make reels better than TikTok and TikTok will become the new Vine.
Related post: How Influencer Marketing Will Work on TikTok
The most recent
steal innovation from Instagram is four people co-hosting an Instagram live, aka Clubhouse room.
We just need to lose the video feature and Instagram will take the Clubhouse app and cover it with an Instagram sticker and claim it as their own idea.
The last feature we will talk about is IGTV; probably Instagram’s least used function.
Jumping on the long-form video contend (read: YouTube) Instagram even developed a separate app for users to immerse themselves in video content.
It didn’t work out too well as IGTV then merged within the Instagram app and is very rarely used, because well, who has time for that?
Lacking innovation and inspiration?
Where are the new ideas from Instagram?
I can sense that the app is trying to become the social version of Amazon, adding shopping features left, right and centre with one-click-to-buy options, but I just don’t see that it’s done very well right now.
Personally, I use Instagram to see what my favourite influencers are up to. I don’t even look to see what my friends and family are up to anymore.
I want to see what these influencers are watching, reading, wearing, where they’re traveling to, what they’re eating and what information they can give me.
So of course, the shopping feature is great for all of the above but I just don’t see it that often on my feed or within Instagram stories.
Yes, I see swipe-ups for influencers’ affiliate links, but I don’t actually see ‘shop this product here’ because I don’t follow that many brands.
The art of promotion on Instagram is hard. Once you land on a profile, you have everything right there – their shop, their reels, their IGTV content, their highlights and their guides.
But how would we know there are profiles out there with so much information?
Has Instagram become so saturated now with all of these different features that it’s hard to discover other profiles?
How do I search for the top profiles in certain niches? How do I discover people talking about a topic I’m interested in?
If they don’t use hashtags and don’t have the keywords in their profiles, I probably won’t find them.
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Swipe Up? Sorry, head to the link in my bio
What’s the beef with Instagram and links? Are they afraid of becoming a fake news platform?
Currently, Instagram only allows accounts with 10,000 followers or more the ability to add the swipe-up feature to their Instagram stories. This means users can link websites to an Instagram story.
But why only those with 10,000+ followers? What makes them so special?
Shouldn’t Instagram offer this feature to everyone with a business profile? Wouldn’t this make more sense?
And now let’s talk about links in captions and on grid posts.
You can’t do it.
Why not? Who knows.
Instagram needs to step up its link game and allow either links in captions, links to images on the grid or the swipe-up to more than just those with 10k+ followers.
I don’t want to sell anything, I just want people to read a blog post.
And I want to cut out the steps to get there. Aka, click on my profile, then click on the link in my bio.
Then more often than not, they have to actively search for the piece of information they want.
So much hassle.
How Instagram will stay relevant
I’ve heard some inklings of a new app called Hive which is supposedly the new Instagram without the algorithm.
I don’t know all the details and whether this app will take off, but it’s on my radar.
In order for Instagram to stay relevant and retain its users, it will need to figure out what kind of app it is.
Is it an online shopping site? A video content platform? A photo-sharing app?
What is it?
It does seem that Instagram wants to become the only social app you will want to use, having Instagram stories so no need to use Snapchat, IGTV so no need for YouTube and reels so no need for TikTok.
Whether it succeeds is another story.
At the moment, there is huge potential for growth on TikTok. Views are through the roof and people are gaining thousands of views on their videos with very small followings.
To stay relevant, Instagram will need to take a look at its algorithm, its room for growth for content creators and how to keep content creators on the app.
The platform will need to figure out how to stop influencers from switching to TikTok or similar should these apps adapt the same (or better) features that Instagram already has.