2022 has been a mixed year for Instagram, with the platform hitting another milestone of monthly active users, 2 Billion, while also repeatedly copying TikTok and seemingly losing its identity in the process, at least to some extent.

The biggest challenge for IG seems to be that it’s no longer a one-off app. Its tools and features have all been derivative to the point that it’s no longer a cultural leader, not like it once was, while the push to feature more content from users you don’t follow has meant that the app is further away from its roots, and into something of a gap between YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and even Facebook of the past.

Which again seems to be working with 2 billion users, and Instagram’s copycat of TikTok has brought at least one major benefit by preventing many IG users from switching to another app. But it feels like Instagram is also on the edge of the relevance curve, and could quickly fall out of favour if it makes any more significant missteps.

Remember the panic when Kylie Jenner said she was on IG?

Ultimately, the numbers speak, and for now, Instagram remains a key consideration for most marketers simply because of its size. And with that in mind, it’s important to understand where the platform is headed and what’s next for the meta-owned app. Today, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri shared some insight into that, sharing a quick rundown of the platform’s top three priorities for 2023.

According to Mosseri, the key elements of Instagram’s focus are:
1. Stimulate People’s Creativity: It was the foundation of Instagram, Mosseri says, “with all the amazing photo filters and crazy frames”. Of course, the “crazy” feature he’s referring to comes from Snapchat, but Instagram was the first major platform to introduce a variety of photo filters and overlays to customize photo posts.

As such, you can expect Instagram to add more visual customization and editing tools, and I would guess more focus on AR creation and integrating 3D objects and experiences into the app.

Why? Because Meta knows it needs creators to help shape the vision of the meta world, and Instagram is the best way for it to connect with next-level talent—because no one uses Facebook anymore and its other apps can’t create the same level of vision.

So Instagram is Meta’s gateway to the next stage, and it needs to use IG to not only instantly connect with the next generation of artists, but also propel them into multi-dimensional creation.

The social platform that best provides streamlined 3D creation among its many applications will win the AR/VR transition, and you can expect Instagram to add more tools over the next year.

2. Help People Discover Things They Love: This is both a big opportunity and a big risk for IG because doing so requires moving user behaviour away from what they know and love (see the recent posts of the people and profiles they choose to follow) and introduce a new, TikTok-like experience, which no longer revolves around the social schedule you create. This works for TikTok because that’s how the app was built from the ground up, focusing on highlighting the best content across the app based on your interests, rather than forcing you to follow users you like and allowing you to be only what you define yourself to be. in a direct way.

TikTok is ultimately successful with this approach because its algorithm is so good at showing you more of the content you like, allowing it to double engagement by expanding the pool of content to choose from. On Instagram, you’ll first see your friends’ latest posts and the profiles you choose to follow, and while IG is trying to steer users away from that, the transition hasn’t been smooth yet.

It also negates the need for feeding algorithms. The original rationale behind the algorithm was that there were only so many posts that could be shown each day based on how many pages you followed and how many followers you had, so it had to be sorted algorithmically to show the most relevant posts. But now Instagram is adding more. So do we still need algorithms?

Either way, expect Instagram to continue down this path as more content from people and pages you don’t follow gets squeezed between updates on your main IG feed. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted back in July that more than 15 per cent of content in Instagram’s feed is served using its AI recommendation engine, and he expects that number to “double by two” by the end of 2023, more than twice. Probably still planned, despite a few hiccups along the way. Does this also include stories that show stories about people and pages that the IG algorithm thinks you might like too? Possibly – although I’m still pessimistic that it will happen, as Instagram hopes it will.

3. Inspire Human Connection: The last element has to do with using the primary IG feed to discover content, with more and more people now sharing and discussing posts in DMs and Stories, a new shift in social engagement. In the past, people shared messages publicly both to connect with others and to share personal interests. But over time, amid various concerns about divisiveness and “cancellation culture,” more people have become more careful about what they share on their mainstream, which has become more private.

Instagram has been trying to address this need with new additions like Notes, which let users share conversational prompts in a story-like bubble above their direct inbox. The idea is that this will help create new opportunities for conversation and engagement within the app, which Mosseri says could help IG differentiate itself from other apps by building engagement around content rather than just focusing on the content itself. separated.

Would it work? Maybe. Also, Meta has pointed out several times that more people are now sharing stories and DMs than they are in the mainstream, which could be if the second step above works the way Instagram hopes, shifting user behaviour towards discovery is a new way to generate more discussion. And in-app engagement with the latest trending clips and news.

Conclusion: Overall, Instagram will continue on the same path it has been on for the past 12 months, with a major factor being the shift to using the main feed for content discovery. Again, I’m not sure if this will work, but if Instagram uses the right algorithm, it could be a way to increase engagement by understanding usage trends while providing a unique experience based on your social graph.

Until recently, this was Meta’s unsurpassed strength. You might find better content on other apps, but you still have to log into Facebook and IG every day to see the latest news from your closest friends and family, at least some of whom will never bother to download the latest s-app. But TikTok’s discovery algorithm flipped the script and focused on the content itself, quickly rendering Meta’s connectivity benefits largely obsolete. So Meta is catching up now, maybe, maybe not. But you can see what it’s trying to do with this method. So what does this mean for brands and marketers looking to make the most of IG?

On the one hand, I keep up with the latest creative additions to the app and see how I can use these compelling new updates to improve the way I present my news. But keep in mind that no amount of great effects and editing can replace the role your audience and your product play in their lives.

Identify your key value propositions and the pain points your product solves, then accentuate those pain points using creative native methods. In terms of discovery, understanding and engaging with your audience’s broader interests can allow your content to show up in more users’ feeds based on other posts they interact with while considering your DM connection options can also help strengthen your relationships with customers that match their other posts. correspondence.

Instagram tries to work with trends that can help guide your strategy in the same way. Or at least your work will align with what Instagram wants to emphasize, which can help improve your platform’s performance.

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