Throughout 2021, we saw Instagram copy virtually everything that TikTok has to offer, and according to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, you can expect even more of the same in 2022, as the platform looks to focus on its key areas of growth - and in particular, consolidating its video formats to maximize engagement.
In the above video post, in which Mosseri sums up the past year, he also says that Instagram will be focused on two key themes in 2022 – ‘Video and Control’
On the video front, Mosseri says that – you guessed it – Reels will remain the key focus:
“We’re going to double-down on our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels”
The rise and rise of TikTok has consequently increased the pressure on Instagram, which was once the leading platform for young people to connect, and since then, IG has been scrambling to catch up, in any way that it can, which has lead to mixed results from a perceptual and usage standpoint.
But from an overall usage standpoint, those efforts have worked. Back in June, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that Reels had become the largest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram, and with the broader consumer shift towards short-form video, it makes sense for Instagram to also move with the times, and align with what people want to see.
So what will that look like in practice?
We’re already seeing it, with Reels clips now being integrated into your main Instagram feed, while Instagram also merged its video formats back in October, and has since been automatically defaulting shorter videos into Reels clips as it looks to expand Reels reach and exposure.
Eventually – and I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now – I suspect Instagram will open to a full-screen Reels/Stories feed, moving away from the traditional home stream of static posts, which will put significantly more focus on the format, and make it the primary connection option, again moving more into line with TikTok.
Is that a good thing? Will it help Instagram slow TikTok’s momentum?
A lot comes down to your personal perspective, but for Instagram, and parent company Meta, the numbers will tell the ultimate tale. Even if you think their replication efforts are a little cheap and tacky, if engagement rises as a result…
Mosseri also notes that Instagram will be looking to make messaging a bigger focus in the app, which is now ‘the primary way that people connect online’, while it will also be looking to add more monetization tools for creators in the app.
And the final element of focus is transparency, and providing more insight into ‘how Instagram works’.
That will likely come in the form of Instagram’s coming chronological feed toggle, which will give users the capacity to easily switch to a reverse chronological post feed - though it won’t be a saveable option (i.e. you’ll need to manually switch to the chronological feed every time you open the app).
It’ll be interesting to see what other transparency elements Instagram looks to implement, in an effort to give users more control over their experience, and overall, it’ll be interesting to see whether Instagram’s continued push into TikTok-like territory will be its saving grace or its death knell.
I mean, Instagram is far from failure in this respect. The app has more than a billion users (reportedly, Instagram now has more than 2 billion users, but that number has not been officially confirmed), and it’s still a key connection option for many, while its eCommerce push is also sparking new behaviors and trends in the app.
There are plenty of ways for Instagram to remain relevant and strong - but whether becoming more like TikTok will help it maintain connection with younger audiences is unclear.
Maybe, through enhanced opportunities for creators, it can lure more big names to its app, and away from TikTok, which will be a key pathway to ongoing growth, or maybe, through Meta’s coming AR wearables, Instagram will take on a new form of relevance in the coming AR shift.
There’s a lot to come, and you can expect a lot of change at IG as a result.
Also, more TikTok – you’ll see more and more TikTok-like elements, as has become the norm for the app.
Bonus: Instagram has also published its top hashtags of 2021:
Handy trend notes for your reference.