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One thing Instagram has done best these last few years is taking something that works and copying it. The upcoming changes are no different. Instagram will once again be dialing into the success of others and adapting it to their platform.
- Instagram stories – A complete ripoff of Snapchat and now it’s one of the most important (if not the most important) features of the platform.
- Snapchat launched the “My Stories” in 2013 and Instagram launched Stories 3 years later.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says “Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app”. So what does this mean?
Don’t panic, we’re not trying to tell you photos will go away. Mosseri says it’s time for short form video. You guessed it. Instagram Reels. What is Instagram Reels? It’s basically TikTok. Instagram Reels allows you to Create multi-clip videos up to 30 seconds, and get creative with easy-to-use text, AR filters and audio. Sound familiar? It’s basically TikTok without the TikTok watermarks on all your videos. Much like Insta implemented the stories feature from Snapchat, they’re now gearing their entire platform towards a more TikTok-ish experience.
So what does this mean for the future? Well, Mosseri says they’re “changing the algorithm”. We all love that phrase, don’t we? But essentially what will happen is that the algorithm will get shifted more heavily around Reels and video.
But possibly the biggest news is coming over the next few months as Instagram starts experimenting with recommendations. Follow us here, this part gets important…
Let’s step back and quickly discuss a feature that many think they use properly but don’t. Hashtags. You’ve seen it… People posting on Facebook or YouTube using hashtags because they think it puts their content in this magic bubble that will somehow be noticed. Let’s discuss why hashtags DO work on Instagram but have little to no impact on platforms like Facebook and Youtube (and even Twitter anymore).
One thing Instagram does terrible is recommending content to its users. It tries, but we’ve all seen some of the stuff recommended to us. There’s a lot improvement to make. That’s the purpose of hashtags. We use them to bypass the recommendations in Instagram. Other platforms such as Facebook and Youtube handle recommendations so much better so the need for hashtags ins’t there and they’re basically ineffective (so stop cluttering up your text content with all the hashtags).
Could this mean the end of the hashtag?
If Instagram develops its recommendations and improves them to the level as its competitors, hashtags could be a thing of the past as their effectiveness is now useless due to developed recommendations for content. *We do know hashtags can also be used for tracking and audience studies. This section only refers to their purpose on the platform*
So, back to the algorithm changes. With focus moving to a video first platform, be prepared for spikes and dips in engagement and reach (and everything in between).
The Reels algorithm has been created to help new contributors grow. We’ve seen lots of people blow up in the Reels side of the platform. But Mosseri mentions he wants to get the Reels algorithm over to the regular feed. There’s speculation that Instagram is working on having videos auto-play full screen on scroll. There’s also been rumors the Reels feed could become the main feed. Remember that full-screen video experiences have been in place for a while for content posted to IGTV, Reels, and Stories. The main feed may be the first big change we see looking more like Reels or IGTV.
Another new feature you may see hitting the Instagram platform is topics, much like Youtube.
As you use Instagram, keep an eye out for new features popping up (and likely new bugs popping up as well) as they start testing these new features and the algorithm.
Could this be the end of Instagram being a photo based social media platform AND be the end of hashtags? It’s looking like things are definitely moving towards a video first platform which will be improving it’s recommendations leaving hashtags not needed to override Instagrams terrible recommendation system.