Curious why all the Instagram backlash matters?
I wanted to take a minute to share my *hot-take* and reflect on the recent Instagram interface rollout and subsequent roll-back from a brand/social media strategist point of view now that the dust has settled.
But to catch you up to speed in case you’ve been OOO … Instagram launched a new TikTok-esque interface that pushed content from everywhere but those you follow. Annoying, right? That’s what the world thought, and Instagram has already rolled back some changes.
It’s no secret that the Facebook and Instagram engagement has decreased since the introduction of TikTok. And with TikTok’s short videos playing one after another, it is clear that they have figured out an addictive way to keep their users on their platform longer. (Pulling people away from rival Instagram.)
The Top Mistakes IG Made
The natural response for most of us is to look at our competitor and take whatever successful campaign they have and copy it to fit our platform. The problem with this approach is that almost always (if people are familiar with your competitor) they will notice the copycat, and you will be seen as unoriginal and possibly an even worse version of it. Take the criticisms coming from the super influencer Kylie Jenner, for example. “Stop trying to be TikTok.”
Straying from the vision
The updated Instagram interface for me, revealed desperation from a company entering its first quarter of decline since its inception. And instead of innovating, Instagram decided to imitate. A decision removed entirely from their vision statement which is to, “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Instead of coming up with some new ways for their users to find a better community, like hashtag follows did (I think that was a great addition), they decided to create a home feed with people you didn’t know doing things you didn’t really care to see. The backlash was less about how it felt to open up Instagram (I think they could have gotten away with that), but more about whose content people saw when they opened the app. This change immediately removed people from their community and made them feel isolated.
“This change immediately removed people from their community and made them feel isolated.”
Not listening to their people
If they had really been listening to their Brand Connectors™ they would have heard them say, “I can’t find my friends and family on my feed anymore.” And the brands asking, “Why can’t my followers find my posts on the new algorithms?” As Instagram steps back and analyzes this failed attempt at innovation, I hope they take a moment to look at their guiding light (their mission statement) and to listen to the needs of their community (their brand connectors) who have stayed loyal to the platform regardless of new apps coming onto the scene.
Some Lessons We Can Take Away Are:
- It’s okay to fail. Just learn from your mistakes and make changes.
- Don’t take what’s working for someone else and think it will automatically translate to your brand/organization.
- When in crisis, return to your vision/mission for guidance.
- Pay attention to what your Brand Connectors are saying both critically and positively.
- And finally, allow more room for collaboration!
Instead of stealing someone else’s idea this should be a lesson to all of us that we should spend more time on ways we can collaborate and innovate. The online space needs more leading voices to implement user-centric algorithms, not for-profit ones. And platforms need to invest in ways we can all create better communities through social media, not just getting more eyes on screens.
As for brands, this is another resounding reminder to diversify and invest in your owned brand channels and not rely solely on social platforms. The algorithm will be ever changing; your channels, web and email especially, will always be yours.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Comment below with how you think Instagram should pivot for future community and interface changes.