“We’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app,” revealed Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, through a video tweet recently. The speculation of the statement has alarmed Instagrammers at large. But not to panic! Instagram is not going anywhere, and probably neither the photo-sharing feature. It is just that the creators are looking to add fresh new changes and features to Instagram to take the social media platform forward from being a lot more than just a square photo-sharing app, giving users the most out of a video experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Instagram is about to get fresh new features through the second half of 2021.
  • Changes focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping, and Messaging.
  • The emphasis is on improving Video Entertainment, competitive with TikTok and YouTube.

The photo-sharing or square photo-sharing platform of Instagram catered to a niche user base – home decor, fashion, food, and travel. But that user base is growing and diversifying. Today, Instagram is heavily used for brand promotion and outreach. Such as the greater part of regulated iGaming, like Vulkan Vegas is on Instagram! OTT content, NGOs promoting social causes… So much action is going on right now!

Instagram has around 1Billion monthly active users. And the internal team of the platform is aiming to live up to the expectations of users by embracing current trends with better outreach, communication, online shopping, and content creativity.

Adam Mosseri tweeted this video on 30th June 2021, sharing insights about what new changes they are currently working on. The company is trying to take the photo-sharing app to the next level by building new experiences in four key areas – creators, video, shopping and messaging. Mosseri emphasized how the company is focusing on Video and Entertainment more broadly. He further added that as per records, “the number one reason people use Instagram is to be entertained.” So the internal team has decided to go beyond being just a photos-oriented platform to a multi-dimensional one, where there are more things to do and more experiences to deliver.

Core Ideas

So how is it going to be? Adam Mosseri disclosed some of the core ideas that the Instagram team is persuading right now.

  • Creators. “This has to do with the shift of power from Institutions to Individuals,” said Mosseri. So Instagram may have new features that’ll improve the business prospects of the platform and help creators across different industry verticals make a living through this.
  • Video. Video Experiences are going to be the vehicle in which Instagram is bringing all the new changes. Mosseri expressed that, “Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now.”

The Instagram team has decided that staying put with the photo-sharing feature may not be in favor of the platform’s best future. At a point in the video, the company head expressed that “there’s huge competition right now. TikTok is huge. YouTube is even bigger.” The serious competitive challenge has motivated the Instagram team to reposition the platform and have a bigger and better experience through Entertainment and Video. As concluded by Mossier,” People are looking to Instagram to be entertained. There’s stiff competition. We have more to do. We have to embrace that. And that means change”.

But the changes are not coming overnight. The company is taking it slow and steady. The team will experiment with the Instagram Recommendations algorithm by showing content and videos in your feed that you might be interested in but are not following yet. Other features would include full-screen mode, immersive videos, entertainment stuff and mobile-first videos.

  • Shopping. Inspired by the pandemic and how it transformed the eCommerce scenario across the world, the Instagram team is looking to add in-app shopping experiences, as indicated by Mosseri, “The pandemic accelerated the shift of commerce from offline to online by a number of years, we are trying to lean into that trend”.
  • Messaging. When in-app shopping experiences are being improvised, communication needs an overhaul too. So quite radically, the company is looking to do something with the Messages app as well. It is supposed to give users more scope to connect personally apart from feeds and stories.

Mosseri’s latest video is not the first announcement about the upcoming changes, he has been publishing videos for quite some time, sharing valuable insights about company operations, the Instagram algorithm and indicating future plans.

This particular announcement has attracted mixed reactions from Instagrammers. Many users praised the transparency and uprightness, while many users were quick to backlash.

Some photographers opined that if Instagram shifts to video it will doom the IG community. One Instagrammer commented, “Thanks for the update and transparency – but what about those of us who still love to consume and also produce great photo content? I’m all for Reels, but I don’t want all videos all the time.” Another comment read “I do not want the only video!! I want what I came onto IG for in the first place. Take the photo-sharing away, and many will leave, and someone will just create a new photo-sharing app.”

Instagram, first launched in 2010, allowed video sharing in 2013; eventually, they added Stories feature similar to that in Facebook and WhatsApp, then IGTV, Instagram Live, and Reels followed. Fact of the matter is that the changes indicated by Mosseri are already there. So even though Mosseri clearly said “change” in his idea, it looks like what he meant was “evolve”.

“This isn’t something we can just do overnight. You will see us iterate and try to be very public about what we’re doing and wh,.” concluded Adam Mosseri with a “Peace”.