Instagram has launched a new option for users to collaborate on feed posts and Reels, as well as some new music-focused, AR-aligned tools to encourage music interaction within the IG experience (*cough* TikTok).
First and foremost, users will now be able to invite people to contribute to a post or Reel from the tagging page in the post composer, as shown in these screenshots. Users will be notified of collaboration requests via an in-app pop-up, as shown in the third screenshot above, which also indicates that, if accepted, the collaborative post will display on both users' profile grids and be shown to each of respective app audiences (based on regular algorithm parameters).
Both users will be visible on the final post/Reel, and each will have access to organic data such as view counts, like counts, and so on. Instagram is quick to remind us that this isn't a means to co-create content, but rather a way to co-author a post or reel. This is understandable given that the post will be written by a single author. However, the underlying message here is that this isn't a collaborative posting process like a Brand Partnership post, but rather a way to tag pals and maximize reach among similar app connections.
This is in line with TikTok's engagement strategy of enlisting friends and creating a sense of community within the app. TikTok's Duet option is a more overt, creative effort on this front, and TikTok also encourages users to tag others in the captions of their movies to increase involvement (note: Reels has a 'Tag friends' prompt as well). Instagram's collaboration features are similar, allowing users to gain increased exposure and engagement by having their posts seen by a combined audience of all cooperation partners.
This might theoretically apply to brands as well. However, Instagram already has its Branded Content tags and collaboration tools in place for these types of collaborations, so it's not truly a brand tool, but rather a personal tool. Though, considering the FTC's recent crackdown on undisclosed endorsements, it'll be fascinating to watch if and how it's used for that reason. 'Superbeat,' which adds effects to a video that are aligned to the beat of a song, and 'Dynamic' and '3D' lyrics, which provide new methods to display song lyrics during video clips, are among the new music-focused creator tools added by Instagram.
Given the importance of music in TikTok sharing, Instagram is eager to incorporate it. Back in August, the company added a new 'Audio' category to its search listings, allowing users to locate Reels that have used samples from any song. And these new music effects appear to be intriguing – but whether they'll be a hit and prevent users from migrating to TikTok instead remains to be seen. Almost certainly not. That's always been part of the issue with Instagram's and Facebook's approach here – while they can provide good-looking, even original visual tools and alternatives, they lack the cultural nous to spot new trends and construct tools that lead to viral sharing and engagement.
This is exactly what I expected to happen here - these are quite amazing and might catch on. However, despite being significantly less complex, TikTok's robot voice captions will continue to be more popular, and TikTok or Snapchat will likely release another tool that appears less polished and technical but accomplishes effectively the same thing, and it will end up being a greater hit.
Cultural knowledge is crucial, and it might be tough to find in tech jobs. But, as history has shown, it's not only the best, most complex features that win out; it's the ones that grab on with consumers that produce the most app recognition and value.
Instagram's new music capabilities went live this week, and its collaborative tools are currently being tested with a small group of users.