Some may say it’s because Instagram is slowly turning into an e-commerce app with shopping tabs dominating our feeds. Others may say Instagram just aren’t original enough with their ideas. First, they stole stories from Snapchat, and now reels to keep up with the TikTok hype.
The evolution of Instagram
First launched in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram was just a simple photo-sharing app. It racked up 25,000 users in 1 day, then a whopping 1 million users after a week. The app had limited features such as direct messaging other users, uploading pictures in square aspect ratio which meant that users could only post media that matched the 640-pixel width of the iPhone 4 at that time.
However, over the years Instagram has gradually introduced new (and questionable) features. Carousal posts, where you can have multiple images and videos in one post, Instagram stories and its engagement features have been a huge hit as it lets users grow their accounts. Hashtags have always been a solid feature within Instagram but again, has become a useful feature in growing and networking with similar users to you.
Now, everyone knows that Instagram actually stole the stories feature from Snapchat. However, it has become one of their biggest features with over 500 million users uploading Instagram stories each year.
In 2019, TikTok was the third most downloaded non-gaming app, crawling up as a strong competitor for Instagram. When TikTok dominated social media in 2020, Instagram then introduced reels to keep up with the competition. Again, a very unoriginal feature. When Instagram realised many users were just re-uploading existing TikTok videos to their feeds, Instagram stopped pushing out any reels that had a TikTok watermark. This was to try and encourage users to create their own videos using the resources that Instagram had. However, Instagram tools are limited when it comes to reels.
Firstly, Instagram doesn’t provide analytics for reels, so it’s hard to figure out whether the music or hashtags you may have used actually worked in terms of reach and engagement. TikTok also has a different algorithm to Instagram, allowing users to grow their accounts much quicker than on Instagram. Most importantly, TikTok has far more editing features to create your perfect videos such as slo-mo effects, voice effects, timing effects, visual effects and much more.
In late 2020, the social networking app Clubhouse rose to popularity allowing multiple people to enter professional audio chat rooms. This allows people to send out invitations to users who want to join the conversion. Coincidently, Instagram then introduced ‘lives’ where you can now invite three more people. Before, you could only go live with one other person.
Ultimately, Instagram has taken a downward spiral in the past year or so. They fail to come up with original ideas and focus too much on business and e-commerce features. Instagram isn’t well known for listening to its audience. A lot of users have asked for features such as chronological posts, but instead, Instagram has trialled removing ‘likes’ on posts and introducing Instagram lives with up to 3 other people rather than 1. If Instagram wants to survive and compete with other apps in the next few years, they’ll have to introduce new, imaginative features and listen to what its audience wants from the platform.
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