Have you been noticing that your photos on Instagram—even though they are higher quality and more eye-catching than ever—just aren’t getting the same love they used to? It’s not a coincidence.
For a long time now Instagram has made its intentions about becoming a video-centric platform clear. They no longer desire to be simply a photo-sharing application but rather a content app that can compete with YouTube, Snapchat, and, most importantly, TikTok. Photos will still be a main function, but it’s clear that Reels, Stories, and IGTV are what the platform has identified as its most essential parts.
What does this mean? It means a few things. The first is that if you’re only posting pictures you’re missing out on more than half of the functionality of the app. It also means that the Instagram algorithm is likely starting to see you as an inessential user since you aren’t producing the kind of content they want to promote. And thus, you will not be favored and your content will not earn as many views.
And if you think you can get away with just sharing your TikToks or YouTube Shorts to your Reels and still get a max number of views, you’re wrong. Instagram has state-of-the-art copycat and repost detection—their algorithm will punish you if you simply recycle your TikToks onto Reels.
Just like every other platform, Instagram is relying on exclusive content as the main attraction of their app—they have zero incentive to even let you post your TikToks there, even though for now you still can.
As an added negative, they are also becoming pretty snobby about the quality of the content that gets popular. If your Reel is blurry and not shot with stunning cinematography (by Instagram standards, anyway) it will sink to the bottom of the pile and go largely unrecommended.
So, what can brands and content creators do about this? Well, unfortunately for them, not much. Marketers have also noted an increasingly hard time getting anything past the Facebook censor once it’s boosted. When we use a platform, we only have two options—play by their rules or find somewhere else.
Now, in my personal opinion, I think Instagram’s rules are a benefit. They weed out content creators and marketers who aren’t willing to do the work and thus cut significantly down on competition. I know that my agency can produce the kind of high-quality content that gets favored by Instagram’s algorithm. If other creators could do the same they wouldn’t have to resort to reposting their TikToks. You don’t get to be an influencer or a tastemaker without putting the effort in. Sorry, not sorry.
Succeeding at any social media platform, especially as a marketer with client agendas to take into account is an uphill battle. Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and the rest want to make money off their content creators but don’t really care if that cash flow is totally reciprocal. They have a pronounced distaste for branded content and that isn’t going to change. What you need to do is do the creative work to make your content engaging and have it be the kind of content that these apps want to promote. That really shouldn’t be too much to ask—it’s kind of your job!