Social Media

Why is everyone trying to be TikTok?

With Instagram's new changes and then them reverting on those changes, is it time to move over to TikTok for good? We investigate.

Ella White
August 1, 2022
3 min

At the end of June, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri took to the platform to announce that Instagram is ‘no longer a photo sharing app’. The news came as a surprise to some – and not such a surprise to others who had already noticed Reel and content from users they don’t follow flooding their feeds.

The announcement came as Instagram made other moves to become more like its major rivals, TikTok and Youtube. But even the most skeptical of users were, seemingly, unprepared for what exactly this change would entail.

And it’s not just happening to us mere mortals. Even the Kardashians are getting behind the "Make Instagram Instagram Again" petition, which began (ironically) on an Instagram feed post by user @illumitati who started a petition that started getting some eyeballs.

So why is everyone trying to be more like TikTok?

The focus on video content across Meta platforms has been clear for years. The way to gain reach and have your posts prioritized is to share them in video format. But now, as a whole generation snubs Instagram in favor of algorithm-led TikTok, the steps Instagram is taking not just to compete but to apparently emulate the platform entirely are beginning to show.

TikTok has had the strongest algorithm around, almost since day one. Its ability to feed users with content directly related to what they’re watching has always outdone other platforms that were more focused on curated followings. And since TikTok is 100% video-led, it worked.

This algorithm also sparked the ability for trends to take off, from make-up hacks to dances, which appealed especially to a younger generation just getting into social media for the first time. And while this was understandably a daunting prospect for Instagram, it’s only to be expected that with each generation will come new needs and wants from their social channels – but does that mean they want every social channel to fulfill every one of those needs?

How does this affect users?

Now, users are citing an 80% drop in engagement on photo posts, leading many to believe they are being shadow-banned. All new updates to the app are aimed at creators who make video content, with new tools and monetizing opportunities entirely centered around Reels. Photo-centric pages are even posting images in one-clip Reel format just to reach their audiences.

So it’s no surprise that stars who made their millions on the platform are starting to get involved. Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian – who run the second and seventh most-followed accounts on the platform – are joining the masses and making their opinions known about these changes. On Monday, Jenner shared the petition Make Instagram Instagram Again. With over 200,000 signatures, it called for the return to a chronological timeline, an algorithm that favors photos, listening to creators, and of course, that Instagram ‘stop trying to be TikTok.’

How is Instagram responding?

Mosseri’s vague response to these pleas noted only that, over time, Instagram will naturally become more video-led. But they have paused and listened. Meta announced over the weekend that Instagram is pausing all tests and going back to the drawing board.

Full-screen feeds were originally being tested last month for select users, but Adam Mosseri now says that “people are frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” so the app will be removing that layout for now.

As for recommended posts, Mosseri admits that currently the algorithms aren’t ideal and so the number of posts you see in that category will be reduced, at least temporarily.

What users are forgetting that with each change Instagram makes ‘for creators’, what they’re really doing is pushing creators – and in turn users – towards monetization. Instagram doesn’t see your friends’ and family’s posts as important like you do, so you don’t get to see them.

TikTok’s approach works because it was original and intuitive. Instagram’s aims to copy the platform are putting users off. But will they listen?

Here's what we think about these changes.