Instagram is looking different this month in the UK. Again.
The channel has evolved into a sort of mega-clone of features from some of the most popular social media channels.
It’s no secret that Instagram copies features, launching their equivalent of TikTok in Reels, BeReal in dual-photos, Twitter in Threads, with Fast Company previously titling moves from the social media giant as “Clone Wars”.
Now with its newest feature Instagram Broadcasts, the channel is taking tips from its Meta siblings WhatsApp and Facebook and integrating a public, one-to-many messaging tool. This time, for creators to engage with followers at scale.
How does it work?
In a similar way to WhatsApp Group message, Instagram Broadcast allows creators to send updates only to those that follow the Broadcast. Content can be shared in the format of text, photo, video, voice notes and polls.
The channel has the potential to offer creators a route to engage with followers in real-time, sharing sneak peeks of upcoming content, asking for feedback via polls and sharing candid moments via voice notes (Instagram).
Currently the format is available to ‘Creator’ channels only (meaning influencers). However, if the format is successful, it is likely that it will be rolled out to Businesses in near future – so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Strategic adaption or audience disconnect?
Initial use cases with Broadcast have showed unparalleled engagement from audiences with creator content. Some analysts have suggested that influencers are not competing directly with other Instagram content creators in the algorithm as it’s shared directly, whilst others argue the surge in engagement is because the feature is shiny and new, and the use of it will likely waver over time.
Engagement rates on Instagram have been dropping since 2019 (Rival IQ), and the move from Meta is a clear attempt to reignite engagement through authentic, real-time content from users favourite Creators.
But, Googling “Instagram Broadcasts”, you’re quickly met with a popular search suggestion, “Instagram Broadcasts turn off”. Clearly the adaption of new features is leaving Instagram’s userbase divided, and it poses the question – do these changes reflect a savvy strategy to stay competitive or potential disconnect from what Instagram audiences truly need?
One of biggest grievances for Instagram users was the shift from the chronological feed to an algorithmic one, meaning posts were no longer displayed in the order they were posted but were rather based on what the algorithm believed the user would engage with the most. Many blame the engagement rate drop on the algorithm-driven feed, and the resulting disappearance of many of their connections and favourite Creators posts. Equally, many have blamed the increase in ads, calling them intrusive and a disruption to their Instagram experience. The ask from these users is loud and clear – bring back a chronological feed and cut-back on the ads. If Instagram listened and acted on this, it would be interesting to see the impact on overall engagement rates and use.
Instagram continues to play a massively important role, helping users to connect with friends, family, businesses, and creators. However, as Instagram continues to evolve and adapt new features, a critical examination of users concerns and engagement trends becomes will become essential in understand its role in the social media landscape.