Instagram is Trying to Become TikTok, and Not Because It's Losing.

Ariel Ariel
Jul. 29

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps #124 - Was that a Mistake?. Check out the full article for more insights.


Instagram recently announced that it'll start turning all videos uploaded by users into Reels. A seemingly small but very significant change to how its platform operates.

So significant that everyone has been yelling at Instagram not to do it and remain Instagram and not a clone of TikTok.

Why would Instagram want to replace its feed with what feels like TikTok?

If you've been following the newsletter for a while, you know that Instagram has been beating TikTok in our monthly ranking of the most downloaded apps in the world for quite a while now. And that's exactly it.

Instagram has been keeping up with TikTok for quite a while now. And that required hard work. Back in 2020, TikTok was beating them mercilessly.

So far in 2022, the two are very close. Our estimates show TikTok added 352 million new users in the first half of 2022, while Instagram added 336 million. That's super close. For context, TikTok's downloads were double those of Instagram for the first half of 2020.

Then it got banned in India, and the growth slowed down...

But back to Instagram. Why would Instagram want to change now that they're able to keep up? Because that's the only reason they're even able to get close.

Attention spans have shrunk to the point where actual content is no longer engaging. TikTok's short videos, and Instagram's Reels, are the future for video. Or, that's at least what it looks like right now. The problem is that Instagram isn't a short video platform. Reels are bolted on.

Just like Facebook had all the kids at first and now has all the aunts, Instagram is stuck in the same boat, and Meta is trying to keep it relevant.

With apps like BeReal still in command of the App Store, I don't know if Instagram can make this shift. It's simply too heavy to pivot.

I've said it before, and it's worth bringing up again – If you have an app in the store right now, you have to figure out how to promote it on TikTok.

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Tagged: #social-media

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