This is primarily a feeling that I have, based on my experiences, and what I’ve seen both on social media, and from other people. So don’t expect any scientific studies or extensive market research. But for a few years, Instagram has clearly been getting worse as a platform.
I have no idea why Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) keeps posting his rants on Twitter where he tries to explain that clearly everything they’re doing is what users want. I know it’s unreasonable, and probably stupid, to keep Instagram how it was originally without ever trying to improve the platform. However, for an app that most people use as a social network to communicate and to share photos and videos, they sure have gone about it in the most complicated way.
They eventually removed IGTV, which was essentially just another type of video. But now along with the content on your Feed, and ephemeral content posted to your Stories, there are Reels. Which is their attempt at capturing users back from TikTok, where you have an endless stream of algorithmically selected content. Just how Stories was them doing the same thing to Snapchat.
When you’re scrolling on your Instagram Feed, instead of it being a list of content from people that you follow, you’ve also got sponsored posts, recommended posts from people you don’t follow, products that are for sale, people you should follow, and a few reels sprinkled about. There doesn’t seem to be much difference nowadays between your Feed and the Explore section.
Anyway, I think it’s clear now what my thoughts are on Instagram. And I’m sure there are plenty of other people that have been feeling the same for a while. However, more recently, I’ve noticed muggles “normal” people starting to grow a bit tired with Instagram’s self-bastardisation. Where their main goal is engagement, not a good service, just “how can we get more people’s eyes looking at our app for longer periods of time”.
There are two apps I’ve personally noticed people using recently to share photos with friends. The first one being Dispo, which I used a while ago, and just played with again today. I know it used to be about “living in the moment”, as you’d choose a camera (essentially a filter or style), and then took your photos, which you’d then have to wait until the next morning as they were “developing”. From what I’ve seen, they have also expanded this to become also a photo sharing platform, with a simple feed of your photos, more camera effects, and also an instant “develop” feature. I think it’s clear they want to try to poke their nose in a potential Instagram-sized hole at some point.
The second app I’ve seen grow recently is BeReal. Which is based on an interesting concept, where everyday everyone on the platform is notified at the same time to capture and share a photo of them in that moment. You get a 2 minute window to post what you’re up to, and you can only view other people’s photos once you have shared your own. Although you can capture a photo after the time, it will just have a “posted 2 hours late” mark on it. I don’t think this will replace Instagram, in a way where it does the same thing. But I certainly think it will start to grab people’s attention away from Instagram, and this may be some people’s platform where they share their life with friends and family. Similar to how Snapchat isn’t an Instagram clone, but that certainly has its own place in the world.
I have to also give a mention to Glass, which is a (paid) photo sharing platform. It’s probably the most essential version of Instagram. However, it’s specifically for photographers, so while I think it will grow, most people aren’t photographers.
I’ve been thinking for a while that there needs to be a new dominant photo-sharing service, but it’s definitely starting to feel like more people are thinking that way too. Although I doubt they’d use those words. Just ask the Kardashians and the backers of this Change.org petition.