What Instagram ‘No Longer Being a Photo Sharing App’ Means For YouJul 11, 2021
The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently declared that Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app. This Instagram mega news is making waves through the ether, and based on a recent poll of my community on Instagram, it has many Instagram users feeling uneasy. Understandably so, as creators, influencers, and entrepreneurs pour blood, sweat, and tears into building personal brands and businesses on the app.
While I don’t always weigh in on social media platform updates, I felt the need to write about this one. Mainly because this announcement feels bigger than most. The reason why people are feeling uneasy about Instagram no longer being a photo sharing app is because way back in 2010, Instagram originated as exactly this: a photo sharing app.
So, what does this update actually mean, and where do you go from here?
For starters, although this is kind of a big deal, I promise you that there’s no need to panic.
In fact, this announcement helps bring clarity to what social media users have been experiencing now for years: decreased visibility, less engagement on photos, and an ever-growing favor towards video.
As someone who’s worked in social media marketing for a decade, I can confirm that the only constant in social media is change. And, those who embrace change come out ahead. Each time Instagram rolls out a new feature, it rewards those who embrace the feature by prioritizing this content in the algorithm a.k.a. new features = more visibility.
Change can be overwhelming, frustrating, and confusing, yet we adapt, learn and grow. Remember when Instagram Stories were introduced to the app in 2016, and you had to figure those out? Or that time last summer when you first heard about Reels, and now you can’t get enough of them?
In many ways, this big announcement is simply another pivot that users everywhere will have to make. You’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again.
So, WTF does this actually mean? Here’s my take on how this impacts your personal brand or business account on Instagram, along with answers to some of your most urgent questions.
Why is Instagram making this change?
In Mosseri’s announcement on Instagram, he states “stiff competition” and “entertainment” as two key reasons for shifting the app’s priorities from photo to video.
Stiff competition from YouTube and TikTok is very real, though I’d be willing to bet that Instagram views themselves in closer competition with TikTok than YouTube, based on the fact that YouTube still largely hosts long-form video content, while TikTok dominates the short 15-60 second clips that are most similar to Stories and Reels on Instagram.
There’s no question that TikTok has given other social platforms a run for their money over the last year or more. In fact, TikTok users are now spending upwards of one hour on the app each day. Since social media platforms commoditize users’ attention and have an interest to keep people on their apps for as long as possible, it’s not surprising that Instagram wants to pivot to occupy as much of this user attention as possible. Videos hold attention longer than photos.
The second main factor Adam cites is that users of Instagram want to be entertained. While the concept of entertainment isn’t new, this ties back to point number one. Video content has been increasingly dominant on social platforms for years because videos are simply more entertaining than photos.
Now, the concept of entertainment is where it’s easy get caught up.
Rest assured that you don’t have to be doing a viral TikTok dance or full-blown comedy sketch to be entertaining. Rather, use the lens of entertainment as you create your content by asking the following question:
Would I stop scrolling on Instagram to consume my own posts?
Do your posts grab people’s attention? Are you enticing your ideal clients to stop scrolling and look/listen to what you have to say?
While dancing is not required, you do need to stop the scroll. Consider how you’ll grab attention in the first few seconds through your audio, titles, and captions, and go from there.
Can I still share photos?
If you’re someone who prides themselves on a gorgeously curated feed of photography, don’t panic. Photos are not going anywhere. I repeat, photos are not going anywhere. Yes, you’ll still be able to share your photographs on Instagram, just as you always have. That said, in order to fully optimize your Instagram account, look to expand your current content mix to include both photo and video posts.
How do I maintain my feed aesthetic?
As you integrate more mobile-first video content into your feed, you may notice that things won’t look as perfect as they used to, and that’s okay. Embracing the scrappy, more organic off-the-cuff nature of social media platforms can actually serve you well when it comes to engagement. That said, if you live for your aesthetic, more power to yah. The best solution to for keeping your feed cohesive while still incorporating more Lives and Reels is to create a cover photo in Canva and upload it your Reel or Live prior to posting.
How should I pivot my content strategy on Instagram?
The best way to make use of this announcement is to start mixing more video you’re your current content strategy. Fortunately, Instagram has been steadily introducing video features to the app for years, so you have lots of options. Stories, IG Live, IGTV, and Reels are all examples of video product updates that have been disrupting the ‘photo sharing’ app since 2016. If you have yet to experiment with each of these content formats, now is the time to try them out. In order to pivot your content strategy to align with Instagram’s emphasis on video, aim to make use of all these video formats. If the thought of jumping into Stories, Live, IGTV and Reels has you sweating, put your eggs in the Reels basket for now.
What if I’m “too boring” for video?
If you think for even a moment that you’re “too boring” for video, I’m going to stop you right there. This is absolutely not true. Remember that there is only one you in this world, and that my friend, is your super power. Think quickly about the types of content that you enjoy the most, whether it’s getting that behind the scenes look at how something was made, or learning the morning routine of someone you admire, chances are your audience desires the same type of content. This is entertainment. Showing all aspects of your life and business, not just the perfect parts. Telling yourself lies like “I’m too boring” is only blocking your abundance. Next time you find yourself in negative self-talk mode, I challenge you to Shut. That. Down. Show up and be authentically you, because we need you!
The announcement from Instagram that it’s no longer a photo sharing app is, in many ways, a big deal. The beloved photo-sharing app has grown up quite a bit since its debut in 2010. Although many of us long for simpler times where all we had to debate was which filter to use on our pictures, the evolution of this platform and others has given us more ways to create connections online, and arguably, video does this better.
Although all change can be intimidating at first, humans have proven over centuries that we’re more than capable of adapting. Now is the time to dive into Instagram’s video features including Stories, Live, IGTV, and Reels, and experiment with the ways to make these video formats work for you. Remember that users often complain about being in the dark about what the algorithms want (I’m definitely guilty of this). Take advantage of this clarity and transparency around Instagram’s priorities; video, entertainment, & creators, and use it to your advantage to grow your Instagram presence!
Remember, my friend, the one constant in social media is change. Stay ready to embrace the pivots.
What do you think of this change? Head over to my latest Instagram post to say hi and share your thoughts!