When Kylie Jenner complains about a social media platform, tech companies listen — so it’s no wonder Instagram’s CEO responded to growing complaints about the app in record time.
This week, Kylie and big sister Kim Kardashian added their voices to growing complaints that Instagram was trying to emulate TikTok, losing what made people love the app in the first place.
They both shared a post that called to “Make Instagram Instagram Again” to their combined 687 million Instagram followers.
“Stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends,” the post read.
In 2018, Kylie Jenner casually mentioned she no longer used Snapchat and caused shares to drop about 7 percent, costing parent company Snap roughly US $1 billion in the process.
So it makes sense that Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri jumped quickly to address the concerns of Kylie, Kim, and just about anyone who misses how Instagram used to work (us, included).
“It’s not yet good,” Mosseri said about the wildly unpopular full screen feed which some users are experiencing — an understatement if we’ve ever seen one.
“We’re going to have to get it to a good place if we’re going to ship it to the rest of the Instagram community,” he added.
However, the full screen feed is just one of the complaints. Instagram’s pivot to video content (and particularly Reels) in a bid to compete with TikTok is a key complaint amongst users, while the onslaught of recommended posts from people you don’t follow is another.
“More and more of Instagram is going to become video,” Mosseri said. “We’re going to continue to support photos, it’s part of our heritage. That said, I gotta be honest — I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time. We see this change even if we do nothing.”
As for recommendations, he said that if you’re being served content that isn’t interesting to you, then it means Instagram “is doing a bad job and we need to improve”. Yikes.
Curiously, Mosseri’s statement didn’t suggest Instagram was responsible for the increasing shift to videos, but rather that it was a user-generated shift that happened naturally. However, it’s important to note that creators and brands are shifting to video content precisely because that’s what Instagram is prioritising in the feed.
“Stop making everything Reels,” one creator, Stefan Etienne, replied to Mosseri. “You’re making everyone from journalists, content creators, CEOs, and celebrities agree. It’s now an app for everything you’re advertising, not of my friends and people I think are cool.”
It didn’t take long for Mosseri to add an addendum on why you’re not seeing your friends’ content in your feed. Spoiler, it’s about ‘growth’.
“One thing I hear a lot is people asking to see more friend content in Feed,” Mosseri said on Twitter.
“I’d love for there to be more friend content in feed, but all the growth in photos and videos from friends has been in stories and in DMs.
“We will continue to show photos and videos from friends towards the top of Feed whenever we can, but the best way to keep up with friends seems to be with the other parts of Instagram.”
Taking over another app’s interface worked well for Instagram once before. The company openly admitted it ripped its Stories from Snapchat’s disappearing messages. But it looks like trying to become TikTok as well as Instagram isn’t working out well for anyone. Bring back old Instagram already.
Update 29 July
In a fairly extraordinary about-turn, Instagram announced it is reversing some of the more unpopular changes. Just days after CEO Adam Mosseri defended Instagram’s updates, the platform will now be phasing out the ‘test version’ that opened full-screen photos and videos.
It will also be reducing the number of recommended posts in the feed.
“I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri told tech newsletter Platformer.
“But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration. So we’re going to work through that.”
We said it once, and we’ll say it again: when Kylie Jenner complains about your app, you better listen or sink.