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Big changes to Instagram and other platforms

Posted by Stuart Walters on October 20, 2019

This comes at a time where Instagram is making many changes to its app, including hiding the visibility of likes. These changes are meant to make the app a better place to be and less toxic for those that use it.  

Removing the ‘follower activity’, according to Instagram, is to make the interface more simplistic. The rise of the discover feed has meant that users have had other, more useful ways, to find new content rather than just what their friends are liking. Instagram have also commented that many users don’t even know that the tab exists or use it very often at all. So, will people notice the change? 

Well, it seems that the only people who might notice the change are users who use the tab to stalk other people and find out what their activity has been on the app. The social chain have commented that the tab increases a lot of tensions in relationships and can cause problems for many users.  

What do we think? As marketers, the ‘follower activity’ tab can be quite useful to find out information about our consumers and our competitors. Knowing what content other people are engaging with and liking can be a useful tool. However, as users, we believe that the tab is mostly redundant and often only gets opened by accident. 

The rise of ‘discover’ pages on social media has been apparent for some years now. Algorithms giving users the opportunity to discover new content based on their activity and engagement has been beneficial to both users and creators. Instagram revamped their explore tab back in July 2018 to include different categories, meaning that you can tell Instagram what kinds of content you would like to see. The explore tab is a vibrant place and content creators often check their stats to see how many impressions they’ve had from the feed.  

Changes to social media 

These two announcements from Instagram might be the rise of social change with social media. People are more and more aware of the potential impacts that social media has on mental health and wellbeing. We wrote about the digital marketer’s responsibility to think about what they post online and how it might impact consumers back in March for International Day of Happiness, and this still stands. Instagram’s efforts, whilst minimal, are a step in the right direction that other platforms should definitely be following.  

Other changes I have noticed on Instagram is the ability to add a time reminder on the app. You can choose how long a day you want to spend on Instagram and once that time limit has been reached they will send you a reminder to tell you how long you’ve spent online. You can just dismiss this reminder and continue scrolling but it is a useful way to get people to remember to stop scrolling. A big problem with social media and mental health is the endless scrolling can result in far too much time comparing ones life to others. 

There is also a lot more media coverage about the dangers of spending too long online and having a health relationship with your screen time. There is no need to delete all your apps to increase your wellbeing but being more aware of your screen time generally can help you to achieve a better balance. Most smartphones now allow you to see how much screen time you’ve had over the last day, week or month so that you can easily try to reduce it.   

Overload of content 

In today’s world there is an overload of content across multiple platforms. You could spend hours and hours and hours a day looking at social media content, article, blogs, videos, etc. this means then, that as a user you need to be selective about what you spend your time on and it also means that creators need to be sure that their content is worth somebody’s time. This overload of content can get a bit much at times and it seems that social media platforms are responding to this with the changes that are being made.  

So, what’s next? 

In light of recent changes, can we expect more changes from big social media platforms?  

Well, if nothing else, we can probably expect other platforms to think about ways they can match Instagram’s changing interface in order to compete. Twitter recently completely revamped their desktop platform and whilst updates aren’t unusual, this change was a rather drastic one for Twitter.  

There is also a rise of parental controls in social media apps. TikTok, the video sharing platform, has parental control options for example. As TikTok is particularly popular with gen Z it is important that they keep their platform safe for the majority of their users.