Why Instagram is trying to compete with other short video app?

When the global social media has been "short video", Instagram has been forced to take a step back. Recently, Instagram launched a new version of the test, changing the algorithm recommendation mechanism to present more short video content, arousing the dissatisfaction of millions of netizens. On the revamped test page, users can swipe various video content from accounts they do not follow, and by swiping up and down the screen, they can switch the content, which is exactly the same as the presentation of short videos on TikTok.

Under the "short video" boom, Instagram has been adding more video features in recent years, such as limited-time news, IGTV, and Reels. In this test, Instagram directly "copied" TikTok's presentation and recommendation model, in order to win the attention of more young users and carve up the short video market. However, Instagram, which is eager to change, probably did not expect that the new video recommendation mechanism has aroused fierce opposition from a large number of netizens.

On Instagram, a post calling for it to "stop TikToking" received more than 2 million likes. The opposition also includes the platform's top influencers, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who have more than 300 million followers. While Instagram was pressured to pause its pivot to TikTok, it said it would still focus on videos and suggested posts going forward, but "will find a better way." One of the founders of Instagram, Kevin Strom, is a photography enthusiast, and Instagram has been a social software based on photo sharing since its inception.

The simple application interface, image processing functions such as filters, and the ability to share daily life with family and friends make Instagram one of the most popular social platforms in the world. Instagram, which is popular with young people, quickly gained the attention of Facebook. In 2012, Instagram, less than two years old, was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in cash and stock to make up for its aging user base. A March 2021 filing showed that Facebook's U.S. teens' daily active count fell 13 percent in the previous two years, and that figure is expected to drop by a further 45 percent in 2023. Data shows that by 2025, Facebook will lose 1.5 million teenage users and be replaced by other social platforms.

As short video platforms such as TikTok become the social "new favorite" of young people, not only Facebook has become an APP "suitable for middle-aged people", but even Instagram is losing the attention of young people. A survey last year by research firm Forrester showed that 63% of American teens aged 12 to 17 surveyed used TikTok every week, up 13% year-on-year; while 57% of respondents used TikTok every week. Instagram, is down 4% year over year. In order not to lose out in the competition and regain the attention of young people, Instagram has intensified its efforts to enter short video content in recent years. Its specific form is to become more and more like TikTok by improving functions and algorithms.

On Instagram's latest page, the mode of recommending short videos on the full screen was tested. These short videos come from the accounts of unfamiliar netizens, which can be switched by swiping up and down. The icons of "Like", "Comment" and "Forward" are listed vertically on the right side of the video, while the author's name and video introduction are listed below... Except for the upper left of the short video, The "Reels" icon in the corner looks the same as the TikTok interface. Even Instagram star Kylie Jenner and her sister Kim Kardashian expressed their disappointment with Instagram's "short video" and shared a petition saying "Stop trying to shake." I just want to see cute pictures of my friends."

While the backlash was rising, the negative feedback was directly reflected in Instagram’s user usage data. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri admits that "people are frustrated with the new feed design and the use of data is not great." That's why Instagram decided to temporarily "take a step back" and figure out how to move forward. Instagram, although it is the same "traffic business" as TikTok, there are many differences. For the "old-fashioned" user group, still, images and texts centered on photos are the most iconic and attractive features of Instagram.

In essence, Instagram has accumulated a large number of users by "acquaintance socializing". The graphic content posted by acquaintances and followers of KOLs, etc., further brings sharing and comments, building strong user stickiness for Instagram, attracting users with short attention spans to quickly browse through many posts with the intuitive presentation, and to some extent Addicted to this app. When the change came, the "acquaintance pictures and texts" arranged in the timeline on Instagram were replaced by random videos of strangers, and anxiety followed, triggering opposition from users who were unwilling to change.

"If you spend an hour a day at your desk talking to friends, reading or watching TV, and then I come over and rearrange everything without saying hello to you, you'll be pissed," Mosseri admits change is difficult, yes, but for Instagram, it had to be. An internal document released by Instagram last year showed that the churn rate of the platform's teenage users has accelerated, especially the 13-15-year-old group, and the shift to other similar software platforms is obvious.

Gen Z prefers fun video content on TikTok to Instagram. Young people can watch videos anytime and anywhere to pass their leisure time, and can also fully express themselves in the process of shooting and sharing short videos such as dances. The researchers estimated in a 2021 document that users spend two to three times as much time on TikTok as on Instagram. The reason why TikTok has such appeal is not only the short video content but also its "addictive" algorithm. By analyzing users' browsing preferences, users spend significantly more time on the app.

Instagram’s adjustments to the algorithmic push mechanism are, on the one hand, to cater to the preferences of young audiences, and on the other hand, to retain more small and micro creators on the platform. In the past, users could only swipe the updates of the accounts they had followed on Instagram, but when the push mechanism was changed, users could see a large number of video content from accounts they did not follow. That’s exactly what TikTok excels at, and Instagram hopes to use this change to give itself the competition for more great creators.

While Instagram has maintained its status as the "No. 1 platform" for creator marketing this year, TikTok is catching up. According to the latest figures from Insider Intelligence analysts, U.S. marketers will spend $2.23 billion on creator marketing on Instagram this year, nearly triple the $774.8 million on TikTok. But TikTok's share of marketing is expanding further and is expected to surpass Facebook this year and YouTube in 2024. In the choice of online celebrity marketing, small and micro creators have become a new trend direction.

Analysts at Insider Intelligence predict that marketing spending on "nano" influencers (accounts with 1,000 to 4,999 followers) on Instagram will grow 220.5% this year, while "super" influencers (accounts with more than 1 million followers) Spending rose just 8.0%. "If you're going to be a platform for creators, then you should try to nurture the next generation of creators, not recruit creators for other platforms." Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said that Instagram is currently supporting large-scale creations Creators are doing well, but need to do better at helping new creators break through.

As a result, moving closer to TikTok and attracting smaller creators has become the key to Instagram's leadership in influencer marketing. Short videos are seen as a potential business opportunity amid declining revenue for Instagram parent Meta. Meta "borrows" from TikTok's short video feature Reels, which has not been launched for a long time, but according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the second quarter of 2022 conference call, the feature has brought Meta $1 billion annually in income.

While Facebook and Instagram are trying their best to get involved in the short video field with Reels to fight TikTok, TikTok stands on the basic advantages of its own short videos and further expands its boundaries to subdivided fields such as music and games to consolidate its influence. Recently, TikTok was revealed to have applied for the "TikTok Music" service trademark and plans to launch its own music app in the future. In addition, TikTok has also begun to test HTML5 games in the APP and has tried a number of built-in games, allowing viewers to click the link to enter the game page when swiping videos and watching live broadcasts.

Artist and producer SEBii believes that TikTok has a potential reach that no other social media has, where a fun video or a crazy melodic rhythm can potentially reach a lot of people and form a considerable amount of influence on the platform. Last year, 175 popular songs on the TikTok platform made it to the Billboard Top 100 list. Many music producers have turned from platforms like Instagram and Twitter to the fast-growing user base of TikTok as the primary platform to showcase their songwriting. In gaming, TikTok’s first partner, Zynga, initially used Facebook as a platform and grew into one of the largest companies in social gaming.

As Facebook ushered in a "mid-life crisis", Zynga has also begun to cooperate with TikTok, which may lead to another growth in mobile social games in the future. In contrast, for Instagram, blindly chasing "trends" may only be left behind them. In the face of TikTok, which is "blooming everywhere", Instagram is too eager to copy its successful play in the short video field but ignores the difference between its own platform tonality and TikTok. Under the pressure, Instagram, which was questioning "nondescript" on its back, had to step back and rethink its proper position in the rise of short videos.

With the rapid iteration of social entertainment, there is really not much time left for Instagram. As Mosseri said: "We're not good enough with video, so hurry up. Going against this trend is very bad for Instagram in the long run." "It's the truth" before pushing the test.

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