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As a member of the relatively hip 20-something social set in New York, I can say with confidence that Instagram is "where it's at" with this group. The introduction of stories and other Snapchat-like features has dramatically increased Instagram's usage among my friends (and definitely snagged plenty of app-hours from the former).

Like the article says, Instagram is absolutely an escape from the hostile interfaces and hostile posts that abound on core Facebook. It's still cool and it's still fun. Whatever the internal power dynamics, it seems unlikely that Facebook would be stupid enough to throw this away. What do they care if their bread gets buttered through the Instagram app?

Another interesting thing to note about Instagram is that a high follower count has become a status symbol. As people invest time and effort in building a large following, their commitment to the platform increases. It wouldn't surprise me if Instagram accounts for more than half of Facebook's value in the near future.




Facebook has been steadily making Instagram worse since they acquired it, by adding more and more features. Basically, they’re turning it into Facebook, the existing product, because that’s what they know how to do.

Currently, users in my Instagram social group are pretty unhappy with the change to a filtered feed, which produces a lack of visibility. This is exactly like the Facebook newsfeed, Where I can post something to my 2000, 500 friends… It gets no likes and no comments, compared to posting in a group with basically the same member where the same content receives plenty of attention, because it was actually displayed to the people who chose to follow me, without me giving Facebook money. There’s not much point in having 8,000 followers if they only show it to 2 percent of them.


> Facebook has been steadily making Instagram worse since they acquired it

Define worse, because basically every metric I'm aware of says that instagram is more popular and has higher user engagement than ever.

I think your "filtered feed" complaint is something that really ticks off a narrow segment of users, but that the remaining 99% doesn't care about at all. All they notice is a more interesting and relevant feed. Look at it this way - basically every major social network (instagram, twitter, facebook, youtube, etc) has implemented some sort of filtered feed. Every time some small segment of tech-savvy users or power users gets extremely annoyed and complains loudly, but I'm unaware of any network reversing the decision and going back to pure chronological - to me, that says that their internal engagement numbers overwhelmingly justify the decision.


The purpose of the algorithmic feed (vs. chronological) is to decouple the surfaced content from clear and present attributes of the content like its creation time and author, such that the feed is a neverending, if mostly pleasing smattering of content from the accounts you follow. Platforms like it because they can opaquely tune the feed for a particular end:

- help users who follow few accounts, or follow low-volume accounts, seem like they have more content to look at; this helps retention

- lift viral content higher, to reward users producing popular content, and expose it to other users assuming wisdom of the crowds

- expose a different set of content on successive views; this helps engagement

- put ads in your feed with higher frequency, whose perceived density would be much more jarring given the reference points provided by the unchanged ordering of a chronological feed

In many cases, these changes disadvantage the most the sort of people the platform cares to retain the least.


I find the opposite. Things often repeat with the algorithmic feed when I open the app again, things from days or weeks ago, while there is already fresh content that was posted minutes ago. But since it's not in time order, I miss the new things.


I agree. I often am presented with posts from 2-4 days ago, even when the people involved have posted newer content. This is awful when I'm going to an event or convention and trying to see what people are posting about it. And also, run out of content on IG and FB and it starts repeating posts, even though I follow thousands of people and obviously there is a huge amount of new content available which FB is not presenting. It seems like they select content from a rotating pool of 20-30 people at any time.


> ... seem like they have more content to look at; this helps retention

Instagram added this a little while ago[1], which flies in the face of these "never-ending feed" complaints.

[1]: https://imgur.com/B3gOVA2


The filter newsfeed complaints are important because they come from content creators.

Like I said above, I feel they have made it worse by adding more and more features. They added video, and that was cool. They added messaging, which that was handy. They successfully copied Snapchat, and that was a plus, I guess. They added a location map, OK. Tagging people’s faces in photos... live video with endless notifications... and now IGTV, which is heavily promoted despite being very different than the original app. It’s definitely what I would call feature and mission creep. My opinion is that Instagram was good and successful in the first place because it simple, like Twitter. It appears to me their intention is to replace the old Facebook product with Instagram, probably because younger people don’t use Facebook much. I would guess this is partially because FB is so cluttered and full of unnecessary and annoying features. That’s the direction I see the Instagram app heading in, which is not what their audience wants.


Facebook (the company) feels like a one trick pony. They don't seem to able to tailor their products to focus on the unique aspects that make them attractive to their users. Instead, everything collapses to a common feature set.


Most content creators I follow primarily use stories, not the feed.


That’s part of the problem. Instagram has changed into a completely different app from when I signed up for five years ago. It used to be posting photos, which I still want to do, but most of the focus is on this supposedly off-the-cuff video, which is almost never done off-the-cuff like the app UI encourages.


I want to add that the point isn’t that the feed is filtered, it’s that Facebook does it poorly. Apparently it is designed to suit their needs, not those of users. More than power users are turned off by this, because it’s not a reaction to being aware that the newsfeed is filtered (though I have seen references to ‘the algo’), it’s the effects.

When I repeatedly post on my FB wall and receive no interaction, I stop posting. When my FB newsfeed is full of annoying political topics, though I unfollowed the last 20 people who posted about annoying political topics, it’s boring and frustrating to read it, so I stop. Then, when I go to the pages of actual friends and family members whose content I care about, and find they have posted things that have not been displayed to me while days of annoying political topics have been, it’s obvious that something isn’t working right.


I believe the number of people that want a non-algorithmic feed is way bigger than 1%. A ton of people signed up for Vero when it first launched specifically because they advertised having a non-algorithmic feed. It’s a frequent complaint amongst even my non-technical friends.


I agree, it’s a constant refrain among the crowd I follow. If there was an alternative with enough usage they would have jumped ship a year or two ago.

The people I know who use Instagram are a network of artists with very dedicated community. We notice right away how things affect our views and take it personally because we are chiefly individuals with nanobusinesses doing all our marketing ourselves, mainly on IG.

People were eager to move to Ello, Tsū and most recently Vero. It seems to be easier to get the content creators there than the audience.


instagram tv is crap


Disagree. Replicating Snapchat's "Stories" feature was one of the best value-adds to the platform since Instagram was built.


Sure, duplicating a competitors successful app and combining it with Instagram made Instagram more substantial, and was well received. Not surprising since Snapchat already proved that the system worked. Addding Stories also changed the focus of the app significantly. As a small business, artist and user, I don’t consider it better, just different. I’m not your typical video consumer though.


[flagged]


There are many ways to assess app quality, and there are also many different things to which Instagram’s growth could be ascribed.


Yeah - great response without going into details what those things are.


It’s not surprising that the young rich beautiful people like Instagram. But I still appreciate that Facebook, Reddit and other text-based platforms allow an ugly person with a dumpy apartment and rusty car to publish their thoughts with the same format that Bill Gates would have.


I don’t see why beauty would improve the quality of Instagram posts, other than for people in the beauty business. For friends following friends (which I assume is the majority of users, I don’t follow a single person I don’t know personally and that doesn’t also follow me) beauty and glamour isn’t really important. I just post pix of holidays and kids to keep family up to date and entertain my friends. Yes I’m neither young, rich or beautiful.

For thoughts in text I think twitter is a better platform than fb.


What does Bill Gates have to do with this? (I was with you up to that point.)


it seems unlikely that Facebook would be stupid enough to throw this away

This sentiment expresses the difference between being 20 and being 40. Over the years, you will witness many companies snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for no fathomable reason.


> Another interesting thing to note about Instagram is that a high follower count has become a status symbol.

Vanity is a helluva drug.


It really is.

As a relatively new user, I would follow a lot of, lets say, good looking folks. I quickly realized that it had a huge detrimental effect on my self perception and image. Now I mostly follow friends and people I know, and maybe a few politicians but very few celebrities and such.


I usually say, if you have social media, follow people who create stuff and who create stuff just for the sole purpose of creating something. People who aren't interested in being richer. People who don't even have the slightest interest in their own ego. Why? One: Because they are capital-t true artists. And, if we are on social media, we should be interested in people who create for a living. People who, for heaven's sake, aren't spending their day consuming away. Two: Because we have a tendency to unconsciously consume things every day. What we unconsciously consume day in and day out has a significant impact on how we view the world and ourselves. And the way we think about ourselves and the world, that is what indicates and determines our fate. So steer away from the news, corporations, etc, and follow people, individuals or small companies, who create stuff. I.e. Vimeo is a cool platform of cool people creating stuff.


On Instagram I have not had the experience you had. I follow a lot of nice-to-look-at accounts and it makes me just a little bit happier. Also some are comedians and some are corporate media accounts for travel-related companies, things to maybe daydream about later.

I don't visit every day but it is a nice break.

I mostly ignore stories.


Do you have kids? I find that young single people get jealous and status conscious when looking at the rich and famous. As someone with a daughter and a paunch it makes me happy to get a glimpse of the beautiful people because I don’t actually want their life.


> Do you have kids?

I am a proud and highly entertained uncle with nieces and nephews ages 2 to 32.

> I find that young single people get jealous

But really the travel part is something that anyone could enjoy. People get interested in travel at all ages. The bug hit me only a couple of years ago but I know people way younger who want to travel.


> What do they care if their bread gets buttered through the Instagram app?

Three things immediately come to mind:

A. They paid a lot of money to acquire Instagram and want that investment to pay off.

2. There are users on Instagram from whom Facebook can extract value and profit.

D. If there is a way to make a buck off a user and their activity on a Facebook property, rest assured FB will take the step to make that buck.


I keep thinking that, in the grand scheme of things, the Instagram acquisition was a bargain.


It has actually made me wonder why Instagram needs Facebook at all. If they had managed to stay independent, I'm sure they could have continued to do very, very well.


Instagram was barely two years old when FB acquired them for $1B along with a promise to allow Ig to continue to operate independently. It'd be very hard for most founders/investors to pass up such a deal, particularly with an app that was even more of a one-trick-pony at the time.


SNAP was offered bucketloads of cash and refused. WhatsApp agreed to be acquired but now both founders are gone. The impression I get about FB from these stories is that its pretty much a Faustian bargain to join them...


They were bought by Facebook a long time ago. Who can say how they would be doing if that hadn’t happened?


Honestly, the features that Facebook added isn't really innovative. I'm sure they must have a really nice, highly optimized backend and such but if SNAP can stay independent and IPO, I'm pretty sure Instagram could have managed to as well.

If you think about it, SNAP would be doing a lot better if Facebook hadn't bolted on the stories feature on Instagram. The Facebook version of stories really really sucks.

All in hindsight of course. But it seems like a shame, a real missed opportunity to create value and stay independent at the same time.


Facebook’s value add isn’t features, it’s money (in the form of ad sales).


Same in Toronto. 22+ is Instagram only. A few years ago you would add each other on Facebook. Now it’s Phone or Instagram socially, Twitter in tech circles, LinkedIn in business circles. People over 30 yrs will add you on Facebook but nobody younger bothers anymore.


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