It’s hard to believe that this year, Instagram will be turning 10 years old—a whole decade of the world’s most beloved photo-sharing app! But is it still a photo-sharing app?
In 2021, we saw just how worried Instagram was about the rise of TikTok. With the launch of its newest surface, IG Reels, and the adoption of short-form, vertical video into just about every feature on the platform, it’s very clear that Instagram is moving in a new direction.
As we enter 2022, what can we expect from the app this year? Let’s dig in!
TikTok is the biggest threat that Instagram has ever faced. The new kid on the block has endeared itself to Millennial and Gen Z users, grabbing their attention and shifting them away from a floundering Instagram that hasn’t been confident about its place in the social media landscape in recent years—at least, that’s what it looks like from the outside.
The advent of TikTok may have even helped Instagram in the long run by giving it lighting a fire to its seat. There’s now clarity among management: “Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app…” said product head Adam Mosseri in a recent Twitter post, captioned 2022 Priorities, "...we’re going to double down on our focus on video.” Video is now king, and you’ll start to notice how much more video is appearing in your feed and everywhere else you look.
Expect to see Instagram championing their Reels format. This is a direct, competitive response to TikTok, and the core surface they will slowly be rolling everything else into (leaving IGTV to die a slow, quiet death). Instagram consolidating all of its video features can only be a good thing. Previously, it was all a little confusing and messy, but this more streamlined approach will be of benefit to everyone.
New creator monetization products are coming
In the same Twitter post, Mosseri covered other aspects of his plans for Instagram in 2022.
“You’re going to continue to see us focus on creators. They’re the forefront of the shift in power that we’re seeing across industries, from institutions to individuals. One of the most important things that we can do is help them make a living on our platform…”
This is exciting news for any online creator. Currently, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and all other social media platforms are out there battling for your attention, and they know that influencers are making more of a direct impact on social commerce. This can only be a good thing for creators.
The chronological feed is back
Yes, really. Instagram is experimenting with a new feature that will give users three different feed options.
Instagram Home Feed
This is how the Instagram Feed appears to you today. The Home Feed algorithm ranks content based on how interested it thinks you are in each and every post based on your past behavior
Instagram Favorites Feed
This is a curated subset of accounts that you don’t want to miss updates from, like friends, family, and a few of your favorite creators.
Instagram Following Feed
This feed will contain posts from the accounts you follow in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Just like the good ol’ days! Wow. We’ve been waiting a few years for that one.
Expect to see these options rolled out fairly soon.
Shop ‘til you drop
If you thought Instagram was already turning into a shopping app, just wait. In 2022 you will see an abundance of online commerce implemented into your feed and stories. Most notably, Instagram will be rolling out a native affiliate tool that allows creators to discover new products, share them with their followers, and then earn permissions from the sales they drive—all on the app!
In general, it’s expected that in order to keep users on Instagram for longer, in-app purchases will become the norm in 2022. With just a few swipes and clicks, you’ll be able to purchase a product without ever leaving the app. The lines between shopping and social media have never been more blurred.
More powerful analytics tools
We believe that, in line with more creator monetization products, we’ll see improvement in analytics tools. For example, Instagram Insights currently provides only 7 days of data, right? We envision this changing to longer periods of data collection, enabling creators to make even better, more informed decisions about their online business needs.
Micro-influencers take the stage
If you’re asking, what is a micro-influencer? you’ll need to read up. And fast. Essentially, they are content creators with less than 10,000 followers. While they don’t qualify as fully-fledged influencers because of their smaller following, they actually hold real power because their followers most likely care more about them and feel connected to them.
Typically, influencers with millions of followers are out of reach for most of us. However, a micro-influencer is more likely to respond and be active in their community. Their followers can build a relationship with them—asking questions in the DMS, striking up conversations in comments, and much more. This means that micro-influencer communities are very strong and tight-knit. When micro-influencers suggest a brand or product to use, their followers listen and participate in discussion leading to high conversion rates.
Once you understand the power of micro-influencers, it’s a no-brainer. We expect many more brands to realize their worth on Instagram throughout 2022.
Say what you want about Instagram. While it’s no longer the beloved photo-sharing app we all picked up in 2012, it remains one of the best platforms on which to drive conversation and build a real community.
As we enter 2022, we expect to see Instagram continue to refine and grow what is one of their best products. As video consolidates, don’t be surprised to see engagement stickers and polls appearing in IG Reels videos themselves, as well as the ability to reply to comments using a video or voice note—a familiar feature we’re seeing on TikTok.
The irony of TikTok’s success is that it, consequently, has beaten Instagram into shape, giving them a clear north star after several years of being lost at sea.
Parent company Facebook (sorry, Metaverse) has a track record of adjusting well to competition and has many plans in the works to continually evolve their products and features.
Despite the competition heating up, Instagram remains one of the very best places to create dynamic, personal, and engaging content and build thriving communities. It’s not going anywhere, and 2022 is going to be all about short-form immersive video content, creator monetization, and multiple feed options.
It’s going to be an interesting year.
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[Header image by Ivan Samkov from Pexels]