Social& Digital Update: Instagram Trials Stopping Some Users Posting Feed Photos To Stories

Ever since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, the rise of the once solely photo sharing platform has been meteoric. It has taken on all comers with the playbook largely consisting of Replicate, Innovate, Decimate; replicating their competitor’s features, innovating and improving them, thereby decimating the competition.

While this was enough to see off Snapchat as a pretender to the social throne. It hasn’t quite worked in fending off TikTok. That’s because TikTok isn’t like all of the others. TikTok’s algorithm has been likened to the sorting hat in Harry Potter. It is less a social network, dependent on social capital and cool features and a network of people, more so it is an entertainment or interest platform. There is no social network building graph in its construction – just a pure interest graph. As one analyst has put it paraphrasing Nietzsche “when you gaze into TikTok, TikTok gazes into you”.

This is why the platform is so popular, between the endless entertainment resulting in it being almost impossible to put your phone down and a totally bespoke feed, its incredible success has ultimately sent Instagram into a tailspin. Try as Instagram might to replicate TikTok’s features through Reels – it just isn’t making the inroads it needs to.

Enter the ‘fumble around and f*** up the best parts of your App’ stage. Last week Instagram sent out a notice to select users:

This means they are conducting tests which stop users from sharing feed posts in their stories. On the surface it makes sense – make feed posts for feeds, make reels for reels and make stories posts for stories. Nobody really likes being served the same thing twice. But under the surface it’s highly likely that they are trying to fend off the resharing of TikTok created videos in Reels and Stories.

Also, as has been noted by many industry observers, their willingness to prevent feed posts from showing up in stories would suggest that users view stories less on the back of such shares.

A further development in this story is Instagram confirming their move towards a 'Vertical Stories' feed (like Reels and TikTok) rather than its current left to right iteration.

Either way the message is clear. Instagram wants it’s users to use the App the way they have designed it. (That this might coincide with maximal ad revenue they might suggest is coincidental…) :)

The unintended consequence of this has been to upset the massive community of ‘small’ creators, businesses, artists, etc who cannot afford to advertise or utilise influencers that use the platform. These groups rely on the share functionality from feeds to stories for word of mouth growth. A petition by Impact has already garnered 30,000 signatures in less than a day.

In an interview with the Decoder Podcast, Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri stated that 2020 was about “placing a bunch of bets,” while 2021 would be about “delivering on those commitments and simplifying the experience.”

Who has TikTok in your office sweeps?