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The “META”morphosis of Instagram & Facebook

TL;DR
  • Meta is rolling out new features for Instagram and Facebook again and users aren’t thrilled about it.
  • Instagram is turning more and more into TikTok with every update, with more emphasis on Reels/video content.
  • Facebook now has a feed for friends and family and another that works as a “discovery engine”.
  • Facebook also has the option of multi-profiles on a single account.
  • There are several tips users can follow to stay on top of the social media platforms, especially Instagram

Ever since the big, bad TikTok stepped onto the social media scene, Meta has been trying not to show it, but it’s been shaking in its boots. Users love TikTok’s format because of how easy it is for content to go viral on the app and garner followers, and because it doesn’t feel like you need the sacrificial blood of a virgin and a moon rock to please the TikTok gods. So, Meta has been trying to follow suit, albeit not so subtly and with a whiff of desperation

INTRO

As of late, Meta has been shifting gears with its children, Instagram and its almost-forgotten older sibling Facebook. Ever since the big, bad TikTok stepped onto the social media scene, Meta has been trying not to show it, but it’s been shaking in its boots. Users love TikTok’s format because of how easy it is for content to go viral on the app and garner followers, and because it doesn’t feel like you need the sacrificial blood of a virgin and a moon rock to please the TikTok gods.

So, Meta has been trying to follow suit, albeit not so subtly and with a whiff of desperation. A couple of months ago, Instagram and Facebook got yet another set of features, so cue the groan heard around the social media sphere

THE COPYCAT’S OUT OF THE BAG

It always feels like Instagram users can’t catch a break. “Bring back the chronological timeline!” they’ve been decrying since 2016, only for their pleas to fall on deaf ears. Until, that is, earlier this year, when Meta rolled out a new feature where users could filter their feed between “Following” and “Favorites”. Only, this feature came with a catch: it was an either/or situation. “Following” had chronological order and “Favorites” had “ranked and personalized” (Lowe, 2022).

This seems to be the case with Instagram for years now, turning a blind eye to the wants of its dedicated users, and dangling that metaphorical carrot with just the right amount of destabilization, frustration, and gratification to keep them hooked. And when Instagram users flocked to other social media platforms, Instagram swooped in to copy said social media platform’s reigning features, in hopes of drawing back its users once more. It’s been working. For the most part.

TIKTOK, IS THAT YOU?

It started out with Reels. Instagram started rolling out its short-form videos at the end of 2019 and since then it’s been bulldozing forward with them, prioritizing that content over its original “instant” photos we all know and love. Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, admitted last year that the app was no longer for “photo-sharing” (Malik, 2022). And, true to the company’s word, Reels are all we’re seeing

In the latest update announced by Instagram, the coming days will see video posts under 15 minutes shared as Reels (whether the user wants to or not), as part of unifying and simplifying the app (Instagram, 2022). As Meta put it:

“SINCE REELS OFFER A MORE IMMERSIVE AND ENTERTAINING WAY TO WATCH AND CREATE VIDEOS ON INSTAGRAM, WE’RE BRINGING THE FULL-SCREEN EXPERIENCE TO YOUR VIDEO POSTS, TOO. IN THE COMING WEEKS, NEW VIDEO POSTS SHORTER THAN 15 MINUTES WILL BE SHARED AS REELS. VIDEOS POSTED PRIOR TO THIS CHANGE WILL REMAIN AS VIDEOS AND WON’T BECOME REELS.”

(HUTCHINSON, 2022)

Moreover, Instagram introduced new creative features to its Reels, especially in the collaborative “Remix” section. Users can now remix public photos, have more expanded Remix layouts and access to Reels template options, and add their own clip, where their clip is added after the original for smoother continuity (Hutchinson, 2022).

Other updates that Instagram is hauling over from TikTok are full-screen videos for a more immersive app experience, and recommendations from people and pages that users don’t follow, wedged between feed posts, in the name of helping creators connect to more people. At least, that’s what Mosseri insists (Hutchinson, 2022). Furthermore, according to a Bloomberg article, “Meta also announced a way for video makers to split advertising profits on content that uses songs the company has licensed. And Meta has been encouraging people to make Reels by splitting a pool of bonus money with those who get the most views” (Frier, 2022).

DO YOU COPY?

MAPPING THINGS OUT

Another attempt to make Instagram the “It” app is transforming it into the go-to platform for online messaging. Which is why they’re introducing the “walkie-talkie” feature. According to mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi, the feature allows users to talk by tapping a button when both parties are in the chat. It’s a feature that users can turn on or off (Golob, 2022).

Still in the messaging lane, Instagram will also include a section called “All” in its inbox, combining the “Primary” and “General” sections, while not ridding itself of either one (2022).

But the social media gods know that’s not all

The maps section is also getting an uplift, with Instagram launching a new search feature that will help local businesses get discovered more easily. The new Map Search option allows users to explore tagged locations in their area, as well as filter locations by categories like restaurants, cafes, parks, bars, and museums. “The dynamic, searchable map allows users to have a more personalized and immersive experience when discovering popular locations and businesses and to see what’s nearby,” Instagram explained (Hutchinson, 2022).

And with that we conclude the Instagram updates. For now.

So, what about Facebook?