Meta's Instagram Faces 'Existential Threat' As Users Reject Shift To 'Performance Media': Report

Zinger Key Points
  • Mark Zuckerberg said in the company's recent earnings call Reels is gaining time spent share on competitors like TikTok.
  • Instagram, however, has seen its engagement drop drastically despite its higher user base number, a report says.

Meta Platforms, Inc. META-owned photo and video sharing app Instagram, which was once a hit with younger users, could be slowly and steadily losing its relevance, according to a report compiled by the Atlantic.

What Happened: Scrolling through an Instagram account could lead you through a maze of “sponsored ads,” and recommended Reels from people you don't follow before seeing an occasional post from a friend, which may appear several days after it was posted, the report noted.

Citing youth culture consultant Casey Lewis, the report describes Gen-Z’s relationship with the platform as “begrudgingly necessary,” meaning “they don’t want to be on it but they feel it’s weird if they’re not.”

Mere Spectators, Not Participants: Active engagement on the platform is minimal, as users feel that by posting they would be throwing pictures into a void, the Atlantic noted. People who aren’t influencers are using Instagram only to watch big announcements made by other people and aren’t participating, a full-time Instagram influencer reportedly told the publication.

To make its case, the report noted that the platform has two billion monthly active users, but faces an existential problem.

See also: How to Buy Meta (META) Stock

What Ails Instagram: Instagram is worried about sustaining long-term growth that can only be achieved by attracting and retaining new young users, the report said, citing the New York Times. The growth concerns are stirred by TikTok’s popularity among young American teens and a series of algorithm changes and attempts to copy features from other apps that haven't gone down well with the platform's users, it added.

"Users were fed up with watching the app contort itself into a TikTok copycat that prioritized video and recommended posts over photos from friends," the report said.

It is against this backdrop that the “Make Instagram Instagram Again” calls grew louder.

The Wall Street Journal, citing internal documents, reported that the time spent watching Reels trails the time spent on TikTok, a platform from which the former drew its inspiration. The numbers also showed Reels engagement dropping by 13.6% in recent months.

Instagram has transformed from a social media platform to connect with friends and family to a new era of “performance media” in which online material is created primarily to reach people we don’t know rather than people we do.

The rates paid to Instagram influencers have fallen over 80% over the past five years as the market remains oversaturated, the report said.

Citing a lifestyle blogger, the Atlantic said people may return as regular users of Instagram if they could limit their interactions to family and friends, just as it was in the beginning. This would mean a change in the platform’s direction of being an algorithm-driven, recommendation-fueled, shopping-heavy interface.

See also: Apple Crowns App Dubbed As Threat To Instagram, TikTok 'iPhone App Of The Year'

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