In the ongoing battle to match TikTok’s massive success with its highly attuned algorithm, Instagram is seriously upping
TikTok is known for its highly impressive algorithm. Users pretty much only see what they want to see, with their favourite creators, topics, and trends continually popping up as they scroll through their For You page. This is something that Instagram is working tirelessly to recreate on their platform. Some new tools are being tested that aim to do just that, helping users provide more direct input into what they’re shown on the app. To begin with, the platform is currently testing a new feature that would let users mark multiple posts in explore as ‘not interested’, hiding topics they don’t want to see. Instagram is also said to be testing the capacity for users to tell Instagram exactly what they don’t want to see before it has even appeared. Users will be able to select certain keywords, phrases or emojis that they don’t want to see, meaning any content involving those certain topics will not appear on their feed at all. Though these updates are still not on the same level as TikTok (in that users have to manually provide their own feedback), over time these new tools could be huge for refining users’ algorithmic systems!
Apparently, despite the Coronavirus pandemic inducing a stark rise in eCommerce, nobody seems to care too much about the latest shopping tools on Instagram or TikTok. This has led to Instagram scaling back its in-stream shopping programme, with talk they could be abandoning the concept entirely! As the pandemic threat has eased (not that we’re complaining!), the reopening of physical stores has meant eCommerce trends have fallen back to where they previously were. According to a representative, “Instagram is planning to drastically scale back its shopping features, the company told Instagram staffers on Tuesday, as it shifts the focus of its e-commerce efforts to those that directly drive advertising. The retreat shows how Meta Platforms is moving away from some long-term projects as it focuses on building its short-form video business.” So, for retailers and users alike this update could mean they face big changes!
Perhaps a more positive update, Instagram is potentially adding a new ‘Add Topics’ option in the Reels upload process. In another attempt to refine Reels recommendations for users, some users are now able to add topics to their Reel uploads in order to better categorise clips. This could be the perfect way for users’ content to reach the right audience, and one that’s actually engaged and interested. This also has potential to hugely boost Reels performance and will help users to connect with more people who are interested in their brand or content – something that is never a bad thing! Overall, this new feature would help Instagram refine its recommendations system more closely, which, as we all know, is their key focus at present.
Improving the safety of young people on online platforms is something all major apps are getting involved with, and for good reason. The number of younger users is rapidly rising on almost all major platforms, with (up until recently) very few safety precautions in place. To begin with, all users under the age of 16 will now be put into its most restrictive exposure category, unless they manually change this. The platform will also prompt all of its younger users to choose the ‘Less’ setting, while also launching a new ‘settings check-up’ that will encourage them to regularly check their safety settings. All of these changes will help limit their experience on Instagram, protecting them from potentially harmful exposure.
This was probably Instagram’s most TikTok-like new feature. This didn’t go unnoticed, though, with Instagram facing some serious backlash. People wanted Instagram to remain as Instagram, and to maintain its originality (not just be a carbon copy of TikTok!). In wake of this backlash, Instagram is rethinking some of these features. Instagram is supposedly testing an opt-in or opt-out option of the full screen mode – meaning users will have the option to have their feed as Instagram-like or as TikTok-like as they want. This seems like a good idea, and perhaps giving users more choice is the way forward!