How To Guide: 4 Ways Instagram is Changing

We often feel that social media platforms are changing all the time – tweaking their functionality or algorithms to make our life tricky. However, although there may be changes to what they offer, we don’t often see such a big shift as the one Instagram recently announced.

Why do we need to understand? If you use Instagram for your business, it’s going to be important to understand what kind of platform Instagram sees itself in order for you to be able to ‘be seen’ as well as offer your audience what they’re hoping to see.

The first big bombshell was from the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, who announced at the end of June that Instagram was no longer a square photo sharing platform.

What is it then you ask!

The core of the change to Instagram is to grab some of the hugely successful TikTok and Youtube market after the first platform exploded during 2020. TikTok was one of the biggest downloaded apps last year. The boss of Instagram now sees the platform as somewhere to be entertained and enjoy video in a more ‘full screen’ experience. There is also going to be ‘topic’ suggestions for users to allow them to discover content they’ve not seen before.

Many are seeing this as a huge experiment and certainly it will be interesting to watch play out.

Here are the 4 key things that Instagram are focussing on changing and how you might like to harness them. Of course it’s worth mentioning here that you may find Instagram is no longer the place for your business if your audiences are put off by this evolution.

  1. Creators – Instagram have a clear goal to put the power of business growth in the hands of the individual and want ‘creators’ to have the best chance of monetising their Instagram activity. Reels has been seen as the start of this process and it appears that new money making opportunities will follow on top of the already available ‘brand partnerships’.
    • What does this mean? It looks like there will be more chances to grow profiles and influence within the platform and make money. What we do know is that video is growing. This doesn’t mean that you need to say goodbye to square images, carousels or graphics if they work for you, but it may mean more video needs to weaved into your content. My advice is to keep your eyes peeled!
  2. Shopping – Instagram have taken notice of the explosion in online shopping during the pandemic and want to make the most of that. Although we won’t yet know of any new features, we know that this is their focus. Instagram Ads will continue to evolve and maybe more important as times moves forward too.
    • What does this mean? It means that if you sell products then Instagram is moving even further into a ‘selling space’ and if you’ve ever wondered if using the  platform as a place to sell then wonder no more. Invest time in finding out what works best for you and set up your shoppable posts as well as consider placing small ads to boost your response rates.
  3. Messaging – Instagram have seen that messaging is the way that folks like to communicate (see the success of Snapchat, WhatsApp and so on). There has been a move away from friends and fans using comments and story comments as a way of communicating and an increase in DMs.
    • What does this mean? It means that you may need to allocate more time to managing your DMs on Instagram. There is an expectation that Instagram will try out new ways to improve the DM interface so it’s worth watching out for this. It might also be worth inviting followers to DM you with questions, comments or as a way of ‘chatting’ with you and your brand away from the public gaze.
  4. Videos – Instagram has done research that shows that the number 1 reason people go to Instagram is to be entertained. They want to grow this. This means that they will prioritise content that is in video format to make the platform more entertaining. Added to this they are going to focus more on recommendations of ‘topics’ in the feed to introduce users to content or brands they may not know yet. This will based on the users viewing patterns so far. Video will be mobile focussed and full screen.
    • What does this mean? It means that video content might need to be a bigger priority in your marketing strategy. This could be IGTV or Reels and they will need to be in the 9:16 format i.e. mobile, portrait. ALSO be aware of the topic or category areas that Instagram introduce and try to make sure your content fits into one of these so that it gets recommended.