The Instagram Identity Crisis

Launched in 2010, Instagram took the world by storm as the first social media platform centred around image sharing. Over 12 years later, could their reign be in jeopardy?

Perfectly timed near the launch of the iPhone 4, where the iPhone’s inbuilt camera was starting to impress more than the traditional digital camera, Instagram offered a unique image sharing experience for its users. Like all great brands, they offered a clear brand voice and purpose, but could their desire to compete with video sharing platforms be hindering their brand identity?

TikTok launched in 2016 and since then the societal shift from sharing images to sharing videos has been monumental. Videos can portray more information and evoke stronger emotions from users, this is appealing to consumers and marketers alike. In response to the increase in popularity around TikTok and short-form videos, Meta introduced reels to Instagram in 2020. Reels have been a well received feature but if you pair this with the bout of rushed updates and algorithm changes their brand identity is beginning to get lost. 

If you’ve used Instagram for a while, you’ve probably noticed the significant change in experience when using the app. Instead of chronologically, content appears in an algorithm based ‘TikTok’ way, alongside many pop-up ads. This has created a far more cluttered and busy environment, with users finding it hard to see the content they actually want to. Instagram have attempted to combat this by introducing the ‘favourites’ feature but is it enough? In the latest update they attempted to roll out, some users had a change to their layout, moving to a 9:16 ratio and a larger part of the feed being geared to ‘recommendations’. However after significant backlash these changes have now been removed. 

All great brands are destined to evolve but when your evolution is centred around another company’s vision, rather than the connection with your consumers, your point of difference and purpose gets lost. For some, the Instagram experience has been on the decline for a while, becoming a low engagement platform with videos of reuploaded TikToks. Is there a place for Instagram to retain its core identity but still compete in today’s world?



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