Instagram will never "be Instagram again". - Your Social Team

Instagram will never "be Instagram again". - Your Social Team

Before we start: don’t miss the 5 Free Reels templates in the bottom of this blog post! 👀

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Yes, I said what I said, Instagram will never be Instagram again.

To “make Instagram Instagram again” we will need either to make Instagram purge over 1.5 BILLION users, so there’s the same amount of unique monthly users Instagram had in 2016, and less competition again OR we will need a time machine.

For the sake of a productive conversation and our mental health, we can’t keep discussing Instagram changes and new features productively if we continue to completely ignore the fact that the landscape has drastically changed from 2016 to now.

I hear so many people say they want back that Instagram from years ago. The Instagram where we all shared photos with each other and grew our accounts easily. But I haven’t yet seen 1 person talk about numbers to show how much more competitive Instagram is today, and that this competition affects your engagement or ability to grow much more than any of the recent Instagram changes.

To say our photos aren’t doing well because Instagram is pushing Reels is to consider only 1 of many variables that add up to a more challenging situation when we talk about our ability to reach people on Instagram.

For the most part, photos aren’t doing well anymore on Instagram because of all these variables:

  1. Instagram is pushing Reels and adding more discovery for Reels (yes, I agree!), with a dedicated tab for scrolling and more space in the explore page.

  2. Video content generates more engagement across the board. That has been true before Reels were even released. In fact, according to Twitter, a Tweet with video generates 10x more engagement. Even if you forget social media, Magazines are dying but Netflix has never been more popular. This is nothing new.

  3. People want unique content. No matter how beautiful a photo is, people don’t want to see the same type of content they have been seeing for the past 6 years. Think of this: if your favorite store had the same exact thing they always had on the window and the shelfs, just in different colors and prints, would you be excited to go in?

  4. Instagram is a much more competitive landscape right now.

Instagram engagement is not harder today just because Instagram is pushing Reels. Engagement would be harder today than it was in 2016 because competition went up probably more than tenfold.

  • Instagram had 500M accounts in 2016. Now it has over 2B

  • Your Instagram followers followed around 100-300 accounts in 2016. Today they follow over 1,000 accounts — this is my own observation of 6 years focussing on Instagram marketing.

  • Every account people follow on Instagram, used to post an average of 5 times a week. Now they do the same but have 10 stories up at all times (again, my observation).

2022 will never be 2016, no matter what good or bad choices Instagram makes as far as new features, algorithm changes, or trying to be TikTok. 🤷🏽‍♀️

Instagram pushing Reels is the new algorithm.

I’ll explain:

In 2016, Instagram was growing rapidly and their research showed people were only seeing 30% of the content of the accounts they followed. Because of that, Instagram decided to implement the algorithm, and ditched the reverse chronological order in the scroll, to make sure that the 30% they saw were the most interesting 30% for them.

In a very simplified explanation: the more you engaged, spent time looking at and had a relationship with the account/content, the higher the priority you’d see them in your scroll when you logged in.

People were not happy. As Instagram had recently gone from 250M to 500M users and continued to grow fast, accounts have noticed a decline in engagement and growth, which by this number alone, we would have expected it would have dropped 50%, do you agree? But the drop wasn’t that drastic (maybe thanks to the algorithm).

But for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because our brains don’t handle change too well, the algorithm became the number 1 villain of Instagram.

Now we are once again completely ignoring the difference in landscape between 6 years ago and now, to make the same exact complaints that we had been doing for the past 5 years, but blaming Reels instead.

Hey, before you get mad at me, I TOTALLY get being upset with this.

  • Change is hard for everyone

  • Many people don’t want Instagram to be TikTok, because they don’t like TikTok or because they have TikTok for this

  • Many of not comfortable creating video content, which I also totally get

My point is NOT that everyone needs to love and accept every Instagram change. But to be unrealistic about the landscape and what to expect from Instagram, is only taking a toll on your mental health, and causing collective stress for business owners and creators on the platform.

I don’t want anyone to think that if we were able to convince Adam Mosseri (head of Instagram) to go back to focussing only in static content, make the chronological scroll default again, even if we convinced them to remove the Reels feature altogether, you still wouldn’t have the same results and experience you did in or around 2015.

BUT here’s where I come in with the good news, and please trust me on this one:

Instagram will never “be Instagram again”. BUT even with less engagement and more video, there has never been more opportunity to make money off Instagram than there is today.

Here’s why:

  • While in the mid 2010s brands needed to hide under lifestyle content to be accepted on Instagram by users, today businesses have many tools to directly grow their revenue on Instagram, such as detailed analytics, Shop, link in Stories available to all and more. I in fact do half of all my sales from promoting on Instagram. The rest comes from my email list. And guess how I built my email list? Yep, by promoting freebies on Instagram.

  • Influencer Marketing went from 1.7B in 2016 to 16.4B industry this year. I am sure a lot of these $$$ went into Instagram partnerships and content and were made by Influencers, Bloggers and Creators who grew made their businesses on Instagram.

  • Whether you like them or not, there are also a lots of focus in tools to support the Creators economy, AKA Influencers, Bloggers and Entertainers, like bonuses, badges and the best one, Subscriptions, where you can get paid for exclusive content. That one is rolling out slowly starting in the U.S, and is basically a whole business in a few clicks.

So keep speaking out about what you want Instagram to be. But don’t forget to adjust your expectations and be able to celebrate the content you put out instead of always compare it to what happened in 2016, when reality was completely different.

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