Instagram copied nearly everything TikTok has to offer in 2021, and according to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, you can anticipate even more of the same in 2022, as the platform focuses on its core areas of growth, including streamlining its video formats to increase interaction.
In an Instagram video, Mosseri summarizes the previous year and adds that in 2022, Instagram will focus on two main themes: 'Video and Control.' Mosseri states in this video that – you guessed it – Reels will remain the major focus:
"We're going to focus even more on video and combine all of our video formats under Reels," says the company.
The development of TikTok has put pressure on Instagram, which was previously the dominant platform for young people to communicate, and since then, IG has been scrambling to catch up in any way it can, which has resulted in mixed results in terms of perception and usage. However, their efforts have paid off in terms of total utilization. Reels had been the top contributor to engagement growth on Instagram, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and with the broader consumer movement toward short-form video, it makes sense for Instagram to keep up with the times and line with what people want to view.
So, how will this work in practice?
Reels clips are now integrated into your main Instagram feed, and Instagram combined its video formats in October and has since started automatically converting shorter recordings into Reels clips as it seeks to boost Reels' reach and exposure. I believe that eventually Instagram will switch to a full-screen Reels/Stories feed, moving away from the traditional home stream of static posts, putting much more emphasis on the format and making it the primary connection option, bringing it closer to TikTok.
Is this a positive thing? Will it aid Instagram in slowing TikTok's growth?
A lot depends on your point of view, but the stats will ultimately tell the story for Instagram and its parent company, Meta. If engagement grows as a result of their replication attempts, even if you think they're a touch cheap and tacky...
Instagram will also be trying to make messaging a bigger feature in the app, since it is now "the major way that people engage online," according to Mosseri, as well as adding more monetization mechanisms for creators.
Transparency, and providing more insight into 'how Instagram works,' is the final goal. That will most likely come in the form of Instagram's upcoming chronological feed toggle, which will allow users to quickly switch to a reverse chronological post feed - though it won't be a saveable option (you'll have to switch to the chronological feed manually every time you open the app).
It'll be interesting to watch what other transparency features Instagram implements in the future to give users more control over their experience and whether Instagram's continuous push into TikTok-like territory will be its saving grace or death knell. In this regard, Instagram is far from a failure. The app has over a billion users (reportedly, Instagram currently has over 2 billion users, but this number has not been officially confirmed), and it's still a popular way to interact for many people, while its eCommerce push is inspiring new behaviors and trends in the app.
There are many ways for Instagram to stay relevant and strong, but it's uncertain whether becoming more like TikTok will help it connect with younger consumers. Maybe it can entice more famous names to its app and away from TikTok, which will be a critical gateway to further growth, or maybe Instagram will take on a new sort of relevance in the approaching AR revolution thanks to Meta's upcoming AR wearables.
There's a lot to come, and IG will alter dramatically as a result. Also, more TikTok-like elements — as has become the norm for the app, you'll notice more and more TikTok-like elements.
In addition, Instagram has released its top hashtags for 2021: