Instagram shook the world when it released its new update. With a complete remodel of the homepage and the introduction of the Instagram Shop- what does this mean for the app and its users?

 

When Instagram first started out 10 years ago, no one would have imagined it would become what it is now. Launched in 2010 by Kevin Systrom, Instagram was just another online medium designed for friends to share photos documenting their lives. Now, it’s a Facebook-owned company, worth over $100 billion and boasting over 1 billion active monthly users. But, with increasing popularity comes the opportunity to make more money through advertisements- which is exactly what Instagram is doing with its new update.

 

What was previously the engagement tab, where users could view any likes, comments, or tags they had received, is now a tab for the “Instagram Shop”, a marketplace where people can purchase items through the app. Whilst purchasing through the app has been possible since 2018, it was previously done through tags on posts, rather than having an entire page dedicated to shopping. Business owners can pay to have their shops show up on people’s Instagram shop page, and when people buy through the app, companies will be able to see this through their analytics. This consequently creates a cycle of money, which ends up in Instagram’s pockets. But how many people do you know that do their shopping through Instagram? And with the moving of the engagement tab to the upper right corner of the screen, and having the shop practically centre stage, you have to ask yourself; what are Instagram’s priorities? After all, it is meant to be a social media app, not an online shopping centre.

 

Another change brought about by the new update is the moving of “Reels” to the very centre of the tabs on the homepage. The reels feature on Instagram was introduced in August of this year, as a way of competing with social media app TikTok. TikTok gained popularity through users being able to swipe through quick, 15 second videos as a source of entertainment- and it seems Instagram wants to acquire the same audience. However, when swiping through reels, you’ll realise most of the content actually consists of TikTok videos, which have been posted on TikTok first and then shared to Instagram in addition. Therefore, we can assume that most users still prefer to use TikTok to watch these kinds of videos, which may explain why Instagram have moved reels to the centre of the homepage in order to gain more attention.