Facebook is testing changes to its Instagram photo-sharing app that will make it more like the social video app TikTok. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced the plan on Wednesday to show full-screen, recommended videos in user feeds.
“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly -- full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video,” Mosseri said. “You’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”
The greater emphasis on video comes as TikTok emerges as a significant rival to Facebook. Among the top five non-game apps in May, TikTok was ranked No. 1 by downloads and was the only app not owned by Facebook, whose family of apps includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, according to Sensor Tower. The analytics firm estimated TikTok was installed 80 million times during the month, compared with 53 million for Facebook’s main app.
Like TikTok, Instagram will show recommended videos from accounts that people don’t follow. Though Instagram has added more video content with the launch of IGTV and its Reels feature that resembles TikTok, it mostly has emphasized square-shaped photos. Mosseri cited TikTok and Google’s YouTube as major competitors.
“We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” Mosseri said. “Let’s be honest, there’s some really serious competition right now. TikTok is huge. YouTube is even bigger, and there’s lots of other upstarts as well.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has talked about the company's transformation into a video-centric platform for years. He said in 2016 that he wouldn’t be surprised if most of the content that people see on Facebook consisted of video in the following five years, BuzzFeed News reported. Instagram's video push is another sign that such speculation is becoming a reality.
“People are looking to Instagram to be entertained. There’s stiff competition, and there’s more to do,” Mosseri said. “We have to embrace that, and that means change.”