Things are changing… again (and again, and again).
Instagram has, rather ironically, faced widespread backlash from a static asset created by photographer @illumitati and shared by thousands, including the queen of lip kits (and chickens) Kylie Jenner. We all know the famous phrase ‘a picture can say 1000 words, but here we are seeing the defiant power of a picture when put in the hands of everyday users
Here’s a quick Spin-centric rundown of why this happened, what happened next and what this means for brands.
It’s simple really:
When we think of TikTok we think of short video clips.
When we think of YouTube we think of lengthy videos.
When we think of Twitter we think of sassy snippets.
When we think of Facebook we think of our mums.
And, when we think of Instagram we think of a feed of static images.
Not so fast! Early this year, Instagram began testing a brand new version of its app’s home feed that featured full-screen photographs and videos, similar to TikTok, and the response was very very loud. Users said the feed was cluttered, ugly and pushing for the primacy of video far too hard. This was no accident; this feed re-jig came hand in hand with other recent changes which include an increasingly algorithmic main feed, a push for TikTok-style “reels” videos, and the increasing presence of a remix function.
These changes have led to everyday users struggling to interact with their friends and family’s posts which get sucked down the bottom of the algorithm in favour of ads and (poorly) recommended posts, hand-curated by the algorithm.
Soon, the post by @illumitati began to spread like wildfire, with a whole app seemingly uniting behind a shared hatred for the new update. The post, overall, gained 2.2 million likes and 43k comments. And, eventually, the spreading of this post led to collective action – with a petition being signed over 300k times.
What may seem like a funny or playful post, could be disastrous for Instagram. Let’s not forget that when Kylie Jenner last talked smack about a social media app, the tweet reduced its market price by $1.3 BILLION (🪦 RIP Snapchat).
What’s Going on Now?
Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO (aka the cause of many SMMs’ stress and anxiety), quickly responded to the widespread criticism with a video (lol) carefully doubling down on the controversial changes. He told his audience that Instagram would “continue to promote photographs,” but made sure to reiterate that: “over time, more and more of Instagram will become video.”
The reaction to this? Similar to this brilliant slack from a client:
What does this mean for brands?
It may seem like a lose-lose scenario, but fear not, here are some quick tips on how to ride this wave for social success:
Push for authenticity 🔥
Audiences are sick of their feeds appearing manufactured, ad-centric and controlled by the algorithm. Now, more than ever, producing authentic and engaging content is key. Show a little humanness with friendly faces or relatability. Gone are the days of a polished Instagram (whether that be in video or static format), so act like the best friend and not like the big brand.
Use (real) reel content 📹
Look, video isn’t going anywhere. So, it’s a perfect time to experiment with reel content and see what sticks. The likelihood is your reach will Skyrocket. Again, just keep it as authentic as possible.
Keep in mind what people want 🪧
Maybe it’s wouldn’t be a bad idea to play around with statics and see if you can hit the sweet spot of engagement: people are hungry for the return of pictures. Yes, your reach might drop, due to the ever-changing algorithm, but your audience will appreciate a feed made up of a variety of content. Don’t be a one-trick pony: have a content plan based on statics, Carousels, Reels AND Stories.
Virality is still a thing 🦠
It’s kind of crude, but the mass spreading of this post shows us that ‘things’ can still go viral. Don’t give up hope! Here is our go-to guide for all things viral.
Play it by ear 👂
Things are changing every day. New trends rise, and old social media sites fall. Algorithms change, but sometimes the users do not. A great social media presence requires A LOT of social listening, reading and knowledge. Keep up to date on everything social.
Or, what if we told you that there is a dream team of social media experts waiting to help you out with this confusing digital landscape? Experts in the algorithm AND the everyday user. We are here to help. Spin is an award-winning pure-play social media agency that combines the sharpest creative minds with the smartest performance specialists.
For more information or to enquire about scaling your brand through social please email firstname.lastname@example.org