New Updates from Instagram Gets a Hard Pass from Users


Instagram recently released world-shaking updates within the app, but you read it right, the platform’s users aren’t particularly ecstatic. The recent Instagram app overhaul suggests the company is going full force on Reels and Shopping, which doesn’t sit well with many Instagram users. 

Discover why IGers around the world aren’t so thrilled about the new updates, and what these changes could mean for social media marketers!

First things first: what has changed?

new home screen from Instagram featuring new reels and shopping tabs
New home screen from Instagram, featuring new reels and shopping tabs. Source: Instagram

A minute yet meaningful change, individuals who log in to Instagram will notice a change to the user interface. Located at middle of the bottom navigation bar is a Reels button and Shop tab where the Create button and Activity tabs once were.

With the addition of these new tabs, the Create and Activity buttons are now relocated at the top right-hand corner of the screen next to the direct message button.

Instagram states:

Today we’re announcing some big changes to Instagram — a Reels tab and a Shop tab. The Reels tab makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you. The Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love.

Why the change?

Instagram said they created the new tabs as they’ve seen a shift in how people and creators are using the platform. Instagram claims that they’ve seen a rise in influencers creating short video content as well as the emergence of online shopping since the pandemic started.

According to Instagram, the addition of the Reels button opens up an opportunity for people to share their creativity with the world. Instagram believes that though it’s a risk to be replacing the Create button with a Reels button, it’s one they’re willing to take, saying:

 “We don’t take these changes lightly — we haven’t updated Instagram’s home screen in a big way for quite a while. But how people create and enjoy culture has changed, and the biggest risk to Instagram is not that we change too fast, but that we don’t change and become irrelevant.”

So why are Instagram users so upset?

Reels isn’t resonating with users as the company expected it to. Users feel that Reels is a way for Instagram to compete with the TikTok platform and Instagram users isn’t liking how the company is putting the new feature on a pedestal.

The change in user interface sends a message to users that Instagram is now prioritising Reels and shopping over main feed content. People have bombarded Twitter to voice out their negative feelings towards the new Instagram update, even going as far as using profane language to express their disdain to the change.

One user wrote: “Instagram update is awful. They’ve absolutely annihilated impressions and the overall algorithms. I don’t care about reels. I have TikTok for that reason. I don’t want to shop via Instagram either. I have safari for that.”

While another one said: “Literally no one asked for the new #instagramupdate. We do not need a section for your ‘reels’ which are really just tiktoks. Just bring the old explore page back.”

Famous makeup YouTuber James Charles also joined the conversation by sharing his thoughts on the app’s updates. Long story short, he wasn’t too happy about it either. The consensus is clear – people are criticising the app for adding things no one asked for.

What Instagram users really want

For loyal Instagram users, it’s as simple as not fixing anything that isn’t broken. Instagram users want the app to be as simple as it used to be – one that’s easy to navigate and one that has an algorithm that allows them to see the content they truly care about.

What about the marketers and business owners?

According to a recent report from the American Express, the majority of (78%) small business owners say that positive feedback on social media is a significant driver of business. In America, where COVID-19 is still an ever-present threat, 25% of small business owners reported that they’re using social media as a storefront for the first time and 38% are now selling on social.

While we can all tell that Reels is definitely a response to the ever-growing TikTok platform (and the looming threat of a US government ban), the focus on Shopping could be a response to business’ inability to do business as usual. In fact, according to Instagram, 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to the platform for product discovery, and 87% say that influencers have inspired them to make a purchase.

While most Instagram Shopping features are only available in the US (such as checking out), it’s clear that the platform has become more than just a photo and video-sharing app—it’s a colossal social media marketing and e-commerce hybrid that’s only going to get bigger!

Whether that’s something the wider population is on board for, however, is a different story.

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