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The New Instagram Update: What this Means for your Business

Content + SEO / 8.17.22 / By Josh Smith

With never-ending trends, influencers, and algorithm updates, the digital world of social media is much like the physical realm; an environment that is hard to control and subject to change. But in recent years Instagram and Facebook (now Meta) have made it much more accessible for the average business to purchase ads specifically based on consumer needs. Beyond this, Meta has also adapted to the TikTok in-app interphase by promoting organic video content, otherwise known as “Reels.” The catch? The recent update favors and promotes video content over still images. With an average of 2.32 billion monthly active users between Facebook and Instagram, as well as another 250 million daily users on TikTok, businesses must adapt to this format to communicate with their current following and potential customers. To uncover the necessity at hand, we sat down first with Managing Partner of Studio Productions, Connor Dixon-Schwabl:

How has the recent shift in social media impacted the way consumers digest digital communication? And how can brands strategize to elevate their content production?

Understanding that social media is now what search engines were 10 years ago helps conceptualize how consumers interact with these platforms. You go to social media, where you find authentic content with valuable information that doesn’t come off salesy or forced. It’s no wonder the audience truly gravitates toward them. To me, if a brand is going to be in this space, it must be genuine, authentic and cannot push a sales-forward agenda. This is to build a relationship, not an elevator pitch like how brands used to utilize video content.

Social media and smartphones have created a standard in quality and accessibility for the consumer. This allows brands to gauge the format in which an audience prefers to watch content and then produce content created with this consumer mindset (vertical video vs. horizontal for instance). There will still be certain videos that make sense for a larger production, but then other opportunities, whether that be a trendy topic or spontaneous occasion, can be captured with a phone. If most of the video content on a platform is low-quality, brands must accept their audience's medium preferences and realize this is not going to reflect poorly on the brand. We are so in tune with watching video from a phone, receiving something with a little camera shake or random movement is acceptable. In some cases, the audience will receive this even more authentically. Brands need to be doing high-quality, medium and low-quality productions based on the consumer they are trying to target and the message they are trying to convey. Finding the right production value for your message and the relationship you are trying to build, that right now to me is the biggest pivot and what every brand needs to be asking themselves.

Next, we turn to Malorie Benjamin, Managing Director, Media and Ad Technology: From a media performance perspective, how do these social media updates impact the paid media world?

While the organic platform is favoring video content, the paid world is likely to favor video content as well. While this isn’t specifically stated, because frankly paid ads are always going to get promoted, we do see that costs will likely be more efficient for video ads than static content ads. Any format of content that allows for interaction of any kind is likely to drive increased engagement and performance.

That being said we ultimately need to understand how this content fits within the goals of the campaign and the overall strategy that we’re delivering against. Every application may not be the right format for video, but we should consider it first if there is an opportunity to provide an engaging experience with the brand or deliver on storytelling or branded content. This allows us to capitalize on the favor towards video that the platform is likely to promote from a visibility perspective, but we should also consider multiple other creative executions like carousels and leads ads to deliver against other direct response or engagement goals as part of a holistic channel strategy. All this to say that when we are paying to promote, we want to choose the right creative format to drive the actions/experiences that we want to create with our brand.

Understanding this as an opportunity to gain further engagement, we speak to Marketing Strategist Paul Gangarossa: What do businesses need to execute to take advantage of the consumer attention on these social mediums? And what should they watch out for with this development?

The convergence of audience preference for video content (they love it, by the way) and how platforms are catering to that preference (they’re all-in) means that brands really don’t have an option here. Still images, photo dumps and even simple links to content will need to be rethought to fit the feed, and this starts with understanding that “video” comes with considerable scale. You’re really looking to add movement and when you simplify it to that aspect, the scale of how to produce it really opens up. Simple animations and GIFs can get the job done. You can even stay 100% static, add audio and let the captions create the movement for you. And on the other end of the spectrum, it’s all, “Lights … camera … action!” I expect Meta’s properties to build some in-app tools to help bridge the gap for users and brands alike, because they need their users to adapt and adopt in order for this shift in focus to be a success for them, too. Templates will become the norm to help get people comfortable, and then brands will have to find ways to stand out beyond that. Last but not least, keep an eye on emerging platforms that try to scoop up audiences who pull away from the video trend. Those platforms may not be viable long-term, but if your brand’s primary demo is the one shifting gears, it’s worth shifting with them.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all this in mind. At the end of the day, our copywriter Nick Guadagnino simplified this update best: “Video content may be the favored format of Instagram and Facebook, but brands shouldn’t confuse presence with purpose. Without a meaningful story to tell, a video just becomes noise that users will inevitably scroll past. But if your content provides value to your current and potential followers, then this update will go a long way in helping you reach your audience.” And this is what is most important. The content your brand puts out there must connect with your target audience.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to our team so we can help you connect with the right audience.


Josh Smith

Josh Smith is DS+CO’s content and SEO manager, building digital information strategies to reach the right people the right way.