Why Instagram is Trying to Become an App for Everyone

Posted on Oct 12, 2016

This year has proven to be a big one for Instagram. The platform recently brought new functions to the app, including implementation of a new algorithm, adding a stories feature, and finally allowing users to zoom in on their filtered memories. The app even went as far as to update their logo and interface, replacing it with a crisper and less cluttered design. But despite the advancements, users have expressed that the app is becoming less like Instagram and trying to become more like Facebook and Snapchat.

But what do all of these changes mean for marketer and consumer behaviors toward the app? Will less people be interested in using Instagram Stories due to its similarities to other popular social platforms, or will Instagram’s effort to create a robust app be successful?

The Facebook Effect
There’s no denying that Facebook -- Instagram’s parent company -- is one of the world’s largest social media platforms with about 1.3 billion daily active users. Comparably, Facebook has more than four times the number of Instagram’s daily active users (300 million). Given the fact that both platforms are owned by the same company, marketers may be viewing both platforms as a single identity.

Pinch and Zoom
Just last week, Instagram added a much anticipated pinch and zoom feature to iOS. Users can now use the Zoom tool to take a closer look at photos and videos in their feed. This new feature, which is one that is intuitive for mobile users, is another way Instagram is looking to close the gap on rival photo sharing apps such as Snapchat, and brands ranging from large restaurant chains to international retailers have already jumped on board.  

Instagram Stories
Last month, Instagram launched its new Stories feature - which is a clear move to steal some user attention from Snapchat. But how will users, especially those used to ephemeral content on Snapchat, embrace Instagram Stories? Unlike Snapchat, Instagram shows recommended accounts to follow in its Explore Stories section. These algorithmic suggestions allow for some personalization of user’s content. The thought behind Instagram Stories is that users will feel less pressure to accumulate likes for their posts or face the fear of over-sharing on the platform. Additionally, Instagram differs from Snapchat in that you cannot send an Instagram Story to a specific group of users – you can only post for all users to view. The messaging component of Snapchat Stories differs from that of Snapchat.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal cited a report that shares some rationale behind the creation of the new Stories feature: Out of more than 6,530 teens, more than 28 percent called Snapchat their "top social network," compared to Instagram's 27 percent. So there is some potential here for Stories to make an impact with users. The question is how will marketers/brands be able to utilize the platform - we’ll just have to see.

It will be interesting to see if Instagram has any other additions or changes up its sleeve over the next few months. Given the recent changes, it seems that the app is looking to put user experience at the forefront, and become the app of all trades.

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