February 20, 2023

Instagram Backflips On Platform Changes

Instagram Backflips On Platform Changes

In what was a wild week for Instagram that included petitions and the Kardashians, the platform has finally conceded to a large amount of public backlash and has announced that they will rewind some of the changes they have been making to the app.

For context; last week, Instagram influencer Tati Bruening aka @illumitati launched a petition online to ‘make Instagram Instagram again’. The general feel behind it was that Instagram had made too many changes to the platform to try and become more like TikTok.

At the point of writing this, the petition has hit just short of 300,000 signatures and was helped along by two of the platform's biggest influencers: Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who have close to 700 million followers combined. 

In response to this petition, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri took to his Twitter to post a video explaining the reasoning for the changes. His sentiment was that while he acknowledges people are annoyed, the changes are based on current user trends, meaning that they have full intentions of moving forward with these updates. 

Well, it seems the public noise got the better of them.

In an interview with Casey Newton from The Platformer, Mosseri conceded they got some of the changes wrong and therefore, will be rewinding some of the new features to return to a more traditional Instagram, starting with the full-screen experience.

“For the new feed designs, people are frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” he said. “So there I think that we need to take a big step back, regroup, and figure out how we want to move forward.”

Mosseri also made mention of the potential over-delivery of recommended posts appearing in your feed and has acknowledged that they will need to reduce the volume and reassess.

“When you discover something in your feed that you didn't follow before, there should be a high bar — it should just be great,” Mosseri said. “You should be delighted to see it. And I don't think that’s happening enough right now. So I think we need to take a step back, in terms of the percentage of feed that are recommendations, get better at ranking and recommendations, and then — if and when we do — we can start to grow again.”

While this is a big win for all the users who petitioned against the new Instagram, Mosseri has made a point to note that while they will retreat for now, it will not be permanent. They plan to regroup and return with some more thought-out changes in the future.

“I'm glad we took a risk — if we're not failing every once in a while, we're not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Adam said in the interview “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we've learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we're going to work through that.”

So what does this all mean? 

Perhaps one of the most confusing elements of all of this is that in the middle of the petition chaos, Mark Zuckerberg took to Meta’s Twitter to double down on the positive impact that AI has had on user data across Facebook.

The tweet from @metanewsroom read "As we continue to improve our AI, we’re seeing the value it provides. After launching a new AI model for recommendations, we saw a 15% increase in watch time in the Reels video player on Facebook. That means more valuable content for people and more advertising potential."

So where Meta goes next is a bit of a mystery - clearly they are not planning to completely abandon their recommended posts AI any time soon, but rather scale it back in order to perfect it before ramping it up on our feeds again.

There is no doubt both Facebook and Instagram are going to continue to change and chase the success of TikTok. However, the tactics being used by Meta to do this may need to alter. Otherwise, they risk losing a very large chunk of the enormous network that they have spent almost two decades building.

Sam King

Sam King

Digital Marketing Manager

The Facebook Ads expert at SMC and brings 5 years of experience specialising in Social Media Marketing and Strategy. He's orchestrated major campaigns in education, sports, events, and eCommerce, seamlessly aligning digital marketing strategies across sectors for maximum impact.

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