by Sophie Meiling, Content & Paid Social Specialist
Instagram is actively rolling out and testing updates that will impact your creatives, how your content is ranked, and how your content generally performs.
Instagram has announced updates to its feed, Direct Message features, algorithm, tagging, and much more. And these updates are not insignificant and will be rolled out throughout 2022.
The increasing popularity of videos on social media has not escaped Instagram's notice. In 2020, they introduced Reels as a new video-based format on Instagram. This is undoubtedly a result of the strong competition from TikTok, which has been the most downloaded app since 2018.
Today, Reels is one of Instagram's most important features, and Instagram's CEO, Adam Mosseri, has announced on Twitter that video will only become more important on Instagram.
And what does this mean for you and your business? If you don't already consider video as part of your content and social media strategy, it's time to shift focus. Instagram will now rank video content higher than ever before.
This leads us to a test format that Instagram is currently testing, called the immersive feed experience.
What Instagram calls the "immersive experience" is that videos and images will take up more of the screen, similar to TikTok. Therefore, more and more content will be in the 9:16 format. This has a huge impact on all the creators who produce content for social media. We also assume that it will have a big impact on advertising formats.
Currently, the immersive feed is being tested with some creators, and it has received mixed reviews. Creators are requesting more control over how their content is displayed.
Instagram is not hiding the fact that the video format will dominate even more than it has before.
Algorithm & feed
The biggest mystery since the birth of social media such as Instagram has been the algorithm - and particularly how we understand the algorithm so we can reach as many people as possible with our content.
Instagram works with several algorithms depending on where you are on the platform. However, we often speak of it as a combined algorithm. The algorithm's main task is to improve the user experience by decoding what content you like and then suggesting content to you that is valuable and interesting for you.
Instagram does this by ranking content, and it changes how Instagram ranks content over time.
Before we jump into where Instagram's algorithm is heading, let's take a look back at how it has evolved.
Before 2016, all users on Instagram met a chronological feed that showed posts in the order in which they were posted. From 2016 onwards, Instagram has worked with a feed dictated by the algorithm, which ranks content that it believes you would like to see based on your previous interactions.
Since 2016, it has been a big wish for many users to get chronological feedback. Now that wish is slowly being fulfilled because Instagram has introduced two new feed views: "Following" and "Favorites". These feed views allow the display of content in chronological order. However, it is not possible to make this the default, so every time you jump into the app, the standard view is "Home", which is the algorithmic view we know.
Another update to Instagram's algorithm will have particular significance for businesses that work a lot with influencers or reuse a lot of content on their Instagram profiles.
Instagram is planning to roll out an update that will rank content by originality. This means that original content will be ranked higher than content that has previously been on the platform. This is naturally linked to Instagram's strong focus on being a platform for creators.
A new feature that has already been rolled out in 2022 is the ability to tag the people who are behind the scenes such as photographers, stylists, and makeup artists in posts. This gives the tagged people the opportunity to post in their feed and in that way get credit for the contribution they have made to a campaign, a shoot, etc.
This also means businesses can give credit to partners or agree with them that they can use the content on their channels and in that way reach a whole new target group.
Instagram has a big focus on making the platform as creator-friendly as possible. Therefore, it is important to ensure that influencers and creators can profit from their content.
To help the creators financially, Instagram introduces "Subscriptions" in 2022. This means that users can subscribe to their favorite creators and see stories, lives, or posts that only subscribers can see. This personalizes the experience and can in the long run help create closer communities around a creator or influencer.
How companies can use this is yet unknown, but time will tell if it can create further exclusivity for some brands or influencers.
Instagram is a social media platform, and they are now making efforts to make Instagram even more social by implementing changes to Direct Message, allowing users to send music, view friends and followers' activity status, and turn messages on silent.
We're generally seeing a shift towards video, which has been in the making for a long time. The strong competition from TikTok continues to challenge Instagram to push more video-based content, gradually shifting the social media platform from an "image-sharing" app to an app with video content.
The algorithm is forever changing, it's a fact. How the new updates will shape Instagram will be seen over time, but we know it will have an impact on brands and companies, whether they can position themselves in the "Favorites" category and also exposure, as brands will have to have a following as followers can choose not to show brands, they do not know by using the "Following" view.
The new tagging, subscriptions, and Direct Message options will have greater significance for creators than for brands, but in the future, brands may have to negotiate new areas with creators if they, for example, want collaborations that use the "Subscriptions" function.
There's no doubt that Instagram is undergoing huge changes in 2022.