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Life Is Instagram on its way out?

Oct. 21, 2021
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Initially a place to share memories with friends, Instagram has become a business tool. It encompasses all niches: makeup, fitness, fashion, photography, travel, food. All it takes is a quick search and you can find people telling you what’s cool and trendy in all aspects of life.

Instagram has also democratized celebrity. Movie stars are not the only ones starring in beauty campaigns anymore; Instagram has made it possible for bloggers to exponentially increase their earnings and for all types of creatives to find their audience. When you have an app that has that kind of potential, innovation is key. With new social media apps springing about like weeds, staying fresh and relevant can be hard. Most importantly, with roughly a billion monthly users, pleasing everyone is a nearly impossible task. 

Every time a new Instagram update rolls out, you’re sure to find hundreds—if not thousands—of tweets and posts complaining about it. Is that enough to ward people off the app? Daisy Morris, a social media expert, says it’s all par for the course. “We're all creatures of habit, and we all like our comfort zones. I remember when Instagram Stories first came out and everyone said how weird it was and how they would never use it and, now, pretty much everyone I know uses it. I think the same thing is going to happen with Reels.”

Updates are to be expected when it comes to social media, obviously. The more users you have, the more you need to try and meet their needs. “It's such a fast-moving industry. The people I've seen who adapt to the updates are the ones that see results on their pages,” says Morris, whose agency, The Selfhood, works with businesses and individuals trying to expand their online presence. 

To be fair, Instagram isn’t out to get you. As the app changes, many feel targeted as engagement shifts and the performance of their content varies—but according to Morris, Instagram isn’t trying to silence you. After all, their goal is to have you stay on the app for as long as possible. The point of the updates is to improve the customer experience, so people can enjoy the app as much as possible. The more time you spend on the app, the more revenue they generate. 

When Instagram rolled out its Shopping feature, many people expressed their distaste for it by drawing comparisons to retail giant Amazon, but Morris emphasizes that, according to what she’s seen in her work, this feature benefits small businesses the most. So maybe Instagram isn’t planning on plowing over smaller enterprises—it’s just learning to profit off them. 

Still, there are options for those who want a different kind of social media. Emma Bates is the co-founder of Diem, a network of social spaces for women-centered communities. Bates explains that Diem is “a place where as a woman, you can go and discover any community and live conversation about any interest in your life.” 

Bates and her co-founder Tobe Chima decided to start Diem as a platform centered on women’s health and wellness. “We felt like there was a massive gap in how women engage in all areas of their well-being. You have to scramble in forums, you might message your friends, you try to piece together things in these moments of panic—which made us think that community was a really powerful knowledge-sharing tool.” Bates set out to build a platform where women could find information about health and wellness, shifting the conversation to women’s needs.  

Building community guidelines is of paramount importance to a women-centered platform like Diem. Bates explains that “Twitter, for example, took five years to ban Donald Trump. Even when they say they’re [doing] their best to protect women, I'm like, ‘well, you haven't been doing that for the ten years that you've been around.’ The reason for that, in my opinion, is these platforms were built by people who have never really faced any type of harassment, so they don't build environments with that in mind.”

To Moore, Instagram’s algorithms could be monitoring harassment already. “Instagram has algorithms in place to scan if people have posted nudity. A lot of my clients are fashion clients, and if they post a picture of a bikini it will be taken down within seconds, so it's kind of crazy that they don't have systems in place that can flag a hate word or language that is belittling another user.”

Regardless of your frustrations with the app, Instagram isn’t going anywhere. For women and people of color, traditional social media is lacking when it comes to keeping their communities safe. But alternatives are being created for those who crave a different experience online. In a world run by billionaires, there’s a growing resentment toward the fact that the ways we have to connect to one another aren’t working for a lot of people. Maybe it’s time to redesign social media. Maybe it’s time to put the outsider at the helm. Maybe that's how we can create real change—when social media is created by one of us, for all of us.