Instagram is testing another feature that’ll have the folks over at TikTok looking on with a wry smile.
TikTok’s full-screen main feed display could be coming to an Instagram experience near you.
The move makes sense within the short-form video wars as Insta is trying everything in its power to make Reels more popular and profitable. Meta is doing okay in this regard – Reels now account for 20% of the time spent on Insta, but with significant changes like this, there’s always the risk Instagram will upset its hardcore image users.
It looks like Stories will remain the same for now, but any future updates may impact its user experience. As Stories is a major breadwinner, and a location of choice for many advertisers, any changes to how it looks and is interacted with needs to be considered carefully by marketers.
A few tests
As explained by Instagram head Adam Mosseri, this is what the test will look like.
“We’re moving Instagram to a place where video is a bigger part of the home experience, where the content is more immersive and takes up more of the screen. Where a larger part of Feed is recommendations, things we think you might love but you might not have heard of yet, and where you have more control over the experience.
“One step on that path we’re starting to experiment with this week is a test where both photos and videos take up more of your screen. The future of photos are mobile first, they are 9×16, they are immersive. What you’ll see is us testing taller photos and videos in your Feed, and we’re trying to learn as much as we can over these next few weeks.”
Implications for marketers
There’s a bit to unpack here. Firstly, marketers may have to update their Instagram photo templates. If the square is out, and vertical is in, there’ll be a bit of transition for designers and advertisers to deal with.
Second, the bit about recommendations is the biggest green light we’ve had yet that Insta is putting serious resources into building an algorithm that’s as powerful as TikTok to create a never-ending scrollable entertainment platform. Keep an eye on that one.
And, if Instagram can get more people watching Reels for longer, ad spending will follow – although it may be a while before it starts truly earning its keep.
2022 – the year of the video
The new tweaks tie into Instagram’s stated focus areas for 2022.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram
“We’re going to double-down on our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels.”
And over the first quarter of 2022, we’ve definitely seen a massive push in this area. Reels are now on the main Insta feed, there’s been extra attention paid to monetising it further and the algorithm has been juiced up.
If we’ve learned one thing from this range of new features, one thing is for sure: Insta isn’t finished with videos yet.
Feedback gathering exercise
Instagram is going to trial these new features over the next few weeks, although Mosseri didn’t mention any specific regions where they’ll be displayed.
He said he’ll collect learnings from the trial, and encouraged feedback to be shared publicly with him on Twitter. So, if it all goes well, you can expect to see more full-screen, vertical media on your Feed.
What about Stories?
Stories look to be safe for now – Tech Crunch said Instagram confirmed Stories will remain at the top of the Feed.
However, it’s likely that Stories will be enveloped into the full-screen format. As mentioned before, the format is a real money-spinner for Insta so it would be foolish for them to sacrifice it at the altar of Reels.
Reels have come a long way in a short amount of time, it now makes up 20% of the time spent on Instagram and video accounts for 50% of the time spent on Facebook.
In the future, we can expect further doubling down on Reels to increase its popularity. One way it’s doing so is via the Reels Play Bonus program and ‘Challenges’ option for Facebook Reels.
The changes will reward creators across different audience sizes who make original content. Payout rates will be re-calculated, and payouts may change for some people. Now, creators with smaller audiences could be in with a chance of earning better money.
The Challenges is a program that can help creators earn up to $4,000 every month. Challenges include hitting a set number of plays ($20 when five Reels hit 100 plays each), and so on.