Will Instagram’s identity crisis shift users towards new photo sharing apps?
Reading time: 4 min
With the boom of TikTok, Instagram has been running the race to stay at the top by prioritising video and suggested content.
But sometimes imitation is not the best form of flattery.
As we know, Tik-Tok is a leading platform as it appeals to the younger generation (Gen-Z). This is because Tik-Tok lets Gen-Z, a far more expressive and imaginative generation, create and share short videos they are truly engaged with (source: Forbes).
However, the millennials that fuelled the rise of Instagram aren’t happy they’re following Tik-Tok’s footsteps and have criticised the app for losing its identity.
Gen-Z already has their video sharing app so Instagram must find a way to improve its original photo-centric feed before users gravitate towards alternatives.
In light of Instagram’s recent updates, users have criticised the platform for copying TikTok by favouring reels and videos instead of the original chronologically ordered posts. Plus, they implemented “recommended posts” suggesting content the algorithm thinks you want to see. This meant less engagement on photo-based posts and users having less chance of seeing content from their actual friends and family. In fact, according to a study by Later, posts that didn’t include video, like a reel or IGTV, had a 44% decrease in engagement rate since 2019 (source: Later).
Considering these pushes for video content and algorithmic favouritism, Instagram is clearly moving away from what it was originally designed for – to share photos.
These concerns have left many frustrated users wanting to “make Instagram Instagram again” and user Tati Bruening (@Illuminati) took action to get everyone heard. Tati created a petition alongside an Instagram post which stated “Stop trying to be TikTok, I just want to see cute photos of my friends. Sincerely, Everyone.”
Having only been open for 5 days, the petition already has over 280,000 signatures and has been supported by Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian sharing the post on their stories (source: Change.org).
The last time the Kardashian’s publicly criticised a social media platform (Snapchat) for their changes in 2018, they lost $1.3 billion in market value in one day – so it would be wise Instagram makes changes and fast (source: CNBC).
Instagram CEO Mosseri, responded to the user campaign shortly after it went viral however not with a promising response. He released a short video stating “I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time” and though they plan to hold fire on the recommended posts for now, they are going to work on getting them “better” (source: Twitter). The response clarifies that Instagram are remaining industry-leader focussed rather than user-focussed.
For now, it seems to be a waiting game for Instagram’s next updates as they “take a big step back and regroup”. But if changes aren’t made soon enough it could be too late for Instagram to redeem themselves as Gen-Z is already drawn to something new.
This is where BeReal has a real growth opportunity. Recently soaring to the top of the charts as Apple’s No.1 top free app, the authentic photo sharing platform has captured the attention of the younger generation and users claim to support the app because it’s so “anti-Instagram” (Source: PetaPixel) .
BeReal encourages users to share unfiltered, real-time content offering a unique way to discover who your friends and family are. The app easily fills the gap that Instagram is struggling with as they over-saturate feeds with video, boosted posts and endless filters.
Gen-Z values authenticity and craves a real connection to their friends and family. BeReal offers the perfect place for this generation to thrive with no followers, likes or filters- just photos. The app is mostly known for its dual-camera feature that allows users to capture your real-time reaction to your surroundings which is spontaneous and unstaged. Its minimalistic style doesn’t overcomplicate social media unlike Instagram with reels, IGTV, stories and posts.
Although, of course notorious copycats Instagram have already made moves to keep up.
They have recently introduced a dual camera to mirror BeReal’s unique feature, but this feeds their issue of copying rivals instead of producing their own niche.
All Instagrammers want is for it to be “Instagram again”.
So, the question is, whilst Instagram goes through its identity crisis will we see a shift towards newcomer BeReal?
If BeReal does continue to gain momentum, it’s a perfect time for luxury brands to make themselves familiar with the app. The platform gives brands that lack personal connection to their audience a chance to ignite a bond with them through raw content. So, in this new era of authenticity, it’s time for luxury brands to really consider new social platforms that will best represent their genuine online presence.