Instagram has a problem with the Kardashians

On Monday, Brüning shared mail on the platform with the call to “Make Instagram Instagram Again”. She told CNN Business that she scrolled through the app and felt frustrated with the lack of content she saw from the accounts she followed after recent updates that prioritized recommended posts and videos from the Reels product.

“I saw my friend’s post under three videos and the recommended post from six days ago,” she said. As she put it in her post, “Stop trying to be TikTok, I just want to see cute pictures of my friends.”

Her post exploded. It had over 1.7 million likes by Tuesday morning, thanks in part to posts from two of the most influential figures on the platform: Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Celebrity stepsisters are one of the most followed accounts on Instagram, with 360 million and 326 million followers respectively, and their opinion carries a lot of weight in the social media world. Jenner’s February 2018 tweet criticizing Snapchat’s redesign was attributed wiping out $1.3 billion of company value in a week.
The attention to Brüning’s post reflects the growing backlash over recent updates to the Instagram platform, which boasts over 1 billion users. To ward off the competitive threat of TikTok, whose detection algorithm is seen as its great competitive advantage, Instagram has begun showing users a much higher proportion of recommended content from accounts they don’t follow compared to their friends’ posts. He also prioritizes video content over photographs for which he is known. The platform is testing the display of full-screen messages, just like TikTok.
Perhaps the problem has been brewing for years. Since 2020, the company has been experimenting with showing users more “suggested posts” in their feeds. Featured content and ads now make up a significant part of the Instagram feed, which often categorizes users into certain categories of content (such as recipes or relationship advice) in a way that sometimes seems to ignore whether or not they actually follow such accounts.
The latest spat over Instagram comes at a difficult time for Meta’s parent company. The company is grappling with an aging and stagnant user base on its flagship Facebook platform, and Instagram is largely seen as the best option in its family of apps for maintaining and growing an important young audience. But Meta, like many old players in the social media world, is facing stiff competition from TikTok and is fighting to gain momentum in its attempts to copy it. While Instagram users are slightly more likely to open the app daily, TikTok users spend an average of about 45 minutes more per day on the app than people on Instagram. report from research firm Sensor Tower for the second quarter of 2022. february bell Along with Wall Street analysts, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Instagram Reels “will be facing competition from TikTok, which is much bigger, so it will take some time to … catch up.”
At the same time, Meta is relying on profits from Instagram and its other apps to help fund its investment in building a future version of the Internet, which it calls the “metaverse.” And the company, which is due to report second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, could face a slowdown in advertising spending, its core business, amid rising inflation and recession fears.

Meta shares fell nearly 3% on Tuesday after a growing backlash from the Kardashians and others.

“The problem for Meta is that it’s not good right now,” said DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte. “Instagram is meant to be used as a meta asset to appeal to a younger market, so it’s natural for me that they use Instagram as a way to respond to the competitive threat from TikTok.”

Meta has launched this playbook before. In 2016, months before Snapchat’s parent company made its Wall Street debut, Instagram copied one of the messaging app’s signature features, Stories. Instagram soon attracted more users with its version of the feature than did Snapchat. But his attempts to copy TikTok with Reels may have been more difficult.

Many have pointed out that videos on Reels are often just old TikTok videos – sometimes posted weeks after they first went viral on TikTok, and sometimes with the TikTok logo attached. In some cases, users will share still photos with music as a reel to rank higher on the platform. Instagram, for its part, has been trying to incentivize users to create original videos through creator funding programs and prominently posting them in the feed. Now the company is also testing share all videos shorter than 15 minutes as clips.
Of course, Instagram isn’t the only platform prioritizing videos and featured content as it strives to keep up with TikTok, which surpassed 1 billion monthly active users last year. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms have also taken steps in this direction.

“The point of view is that this is like mobile devices, that is, this is an evolutionary change in consumption on the Internet,” Forte said. What choice does Facebook have? It would be next to impossible to buy TikTok, which was an old textbook, so now they have to try to innovate.”

For creators like Bruening who have made a living from Instagram, the change seems especially painful considering it was originally a photography app aimed at artists and photographers.

“It seems wrong to switch the algorithm to creators who make a living and contribute to the community, forcing them to completely change the direction of content and lifestyle in order to serve the new algorithm,” Brüning wrote in a change.org petition calling on Instagram to “Stop trying to be TikTok!” In four days, he collected over 150,000 signatures.

Instagram did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. However, Instagram head Adam Mosseri responded to the criticism in a video post on the platform on Tuesday.

“We’re experimenting with a number of different changes to the app, so we’re hearing a lot of concerns from all of you,” he said, acknowledging complaints about the switch to video and the increase in featured content. “We are going to continue to support photos, they are part of our heritage… That being said, I have to be honest: I believe that over time, more and more Instagram will become video.”

Mosseri continued, “If you look at what people are sharing on Instagram, over time it is shifting more and more towards video. if we don’t change anything. So we’ll have to build on that change while continuing to support the photos.”

Mosseri also warned that the full-screen video test “isn’t very good yet” and is only available to a small percentage of users. And he pointed to an Instagram option launched earlier this year to allow users to switch the platform to a chronological feed only from accounts they follow.

But this explanation was not enough to silence criticism. Some users have expressed in the comments that they have no choice but to start making more videos if they want the platform’s algorithm to display their content. Others have suggested that if the platform becomes too similar to TikTok, they will be tempted to simply choose to use one of the apps rather than both.

“People are making VIDEOS because we don’t have access to our photos!!” — said fashion creator Alina Tanasa (@fabmusealina) in a comment on Mosseri’s video. “As a content creator, I need and want everyone, and with a photo, you cut the whole reach and promote only the video. So it’s not us, it’s you who are changing everything and afraid of TikTok.”

Makeup artist James Charles, who has nearly 23 million followers on Instagram, added in a comment: “I understand that every business needs to grow, compete and please investors, but Instagram loses the competition and loses its identity along the way. .. We are frustrated because we NEED this app and the communities we were able to create or join here, but I’m genuinely worried that if things don’t change, there won’t be any communities left.”

However, if Instagram has a positive side, it’s that there are several other photography-focused apps, so criticizing Instagram is easier than leaving it, especially for those who have built a life and livelihood on it.

“Personally,” Brüning said, “I love Instagram and don’t plan to leave Instagram anytime soon.”

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