Instagram catching up with TikTok

Instagram has announced a high-profile transformation. This is not the first time FB has “stole the teacher” TikTok.

Instagram catching up with TikTok

Instagram is the vanguard and proving ground for FB against competitors. Only this time, the object it wants to imitate and chase after is the faster TikTok and the deeper byte beating behind the moat.

In front of the 15-second short video, the social giants had no choice but to “break the defense.”

According to App Annie’s survey data, in 2020, TikTok is already the app with the longest average time used by American users. FB’s Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger can only rank 2-5.

If you can’t beat it, just learn. Facebook’s photo social platform Instagram has recently practiced TikTok’s martial arts.

Recently, Adam Mosseri, the executive director of Instagram, posted a video. In the video, he announced that Instagram is no longer a “picture sharing app”, but will be transformed into an “entertainment platform.”

Specifically, Instagram will provide users with more video content, and it is “immersive” and “built for mobile” videos. Instagram will continue to embrace the “recommendation algorithm” and add more personalized recommendations on the homepage…between the lines, TikTok’s successful passwords are written all over.

This is not the first time Instagram has transformed, nor is it the first time it has imitated an opponent. Looking back on history, it has transformed from the original “filter tool” to a “picture sharing platform”, was acquired by FB, and has gradually grown into one of the world’s largest social media. In 2016, it copied Snapchat’s core function “Stories” and successfully “suppressed” the latter’s rapid rise.

Fast iteration and no fear of transformation are part of Instagram’s genes and an important development philosophy of the parent company FB.

Instagram is the vanguard and proving ground for FB against competitors. Only this time, the object it wants to imitate and chase after is the faster TikTok and the deeper byte beating behind the moat .

Can Instgram succeed?

TikTok you can’t learn

Instagram has announced a high-profile transformation. This is not the first time FB has “stole the teacher” TikTok.

As early as 2018, when TikTok’s monthly life exceeded 100 million, FB had already responded. It launched Lasso, a short video application. In terms of product logic, Lasso can be said to be a pixel-level clone of TikTok, the same “vertical short video”, the same “unlimited video stream”, the same “highlight video BGM”, the same “like, share button” …

Because of this, FB did not use too much official resources to promote Lasso, but chose to go online with a low profile and try to seek natural growth. But Lasso did not achieve any results. After 8 months of silent operation, FB decided to shut it down.

Shutting down Lasso does not mean that FB will admit defeat and surrender. On the contrary, it has begun to increase its efforts against TikTok.

In September 2019, Instagram launched Reels. This is another attempt by FB to clone TikTok directly. This time, it has given more official resources. Reels appears directly at the top of Instagram’s discovery page, which is equivalent to a “sub App” of Instagram. After entering Reels, the product logic is almost exactly the same as TikTok.

Instagram catching up with TikTok

Instagram imitates TikTok’s product Reels |Instagram

But Reels encountered Waterloo again. Even if it occupies a “good position” on Instagram, the response from users is not overwhelming. Less than a year after it went live, it was taken down and declared a failure.

In fact, Instagram has already had its own “short video” product. In 2016, it imitated the “Stories” launched by Snapchat, which is a kind of short video. It’s just that it is not TikTok.

“Move fast and Break things.” was once the most important development philosophy of Facebook. Instagram, founded 11 years ago, has a similar gene for a long time.

Looking back at the development history of Instagram, this is almost an “evolutionary” history of constantly relying on iteration and transformation to defeat opponents. In countless iterations of transformation, there are not only innovation and optimization, but also plagiarism and imitation. Instagram has beaten too many opponents, TikTok is the latest one, and it may be the most difficult one.

The price of practicing this skill

Instagram’s transformation, aside from the beauty on the surface, directly refers to TikTok’s “algorithm recommendation” mechanism.

Executive Director Adam Mosseri said that they will put more “recommended content” that users have not paid attention to in the user’s homepage stream. Previously, the Instagram homepage would only display content that users “follow”. Only in the secondary discovery page can there be algorithm recommendations. Including Reels, is also placed there.

Mentioning the recommended content to the homepage is aimed at TikTok and once again stepped up its efforts to bet on “algorithms.” But if you want to learn the martial arts of byte beating, this thing is also quite dangerous. Snapchat is a lesson from the past.

In 2017, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel came to China to visit Toutiao today. At that time, Snapchat was in a growth bottleneck period. After being copied by Instagram, the user growth rate gradually slowed down. After visiting headlines today, Spiegel thinks he realized that the future direction of development, want to do a similar headlines today’s “personalization Snapchat in a letter of recommendation information flow”, thereby compete with Instagram.

After finding the direction, he also decided to learn the concepts of FB and ByteDance, and quickly develop, go online, and iterate. He set an almost impossible timetable, requiring the team to redesign products, develop algorithms, and go online quickly.

In February 2018, the redesigned Snapchat went online hastily. But what is ushered in is the unanimous negative reviews from users. Because of the algorithm sorting, many users can’t even find the news of their friends. More than 1.2 million people “co-signed” and asked Snap to roll back the App to the previous version. For three consecutive quarters, the number of monthly active users of Snapchat has not increased but decreased.

Instagram catching up with TikTok

The change in the number of Snapchat users has slowed down significantly after imitating Toutiao’s reforms in 2017, and even fell into negative growth|Business of Apps

Instagram may be more confident than Snapchat in controlling the content algorithm. Because FB can be said to be the ancestor of the concept of “content recommendation algorithm”. In 2006, Facebook launched the “NewsFeed” function. The user’s friends’ dynamics will be sorted intelligently according to an algorithm, and then displayed in the form of a “stream”. In 2016, Instagram also abandoned the “chronological” homepage stream and switched to an algorithm stream.

But in any case, FB’s “sorting algorithm” and byte bounce “recommended algorithm” are still very different. Mosseri said that the transformation is expected to take six months to one year. At present, most of the updates are in the stage of small-scale grayscale testing. After the failure of Lasso and Reels, Instagram has become more cautious. The reform it is trying is to modify its lowest-level product mechanism, which may directly affect The user is driven away.

In addition to the most critical “recommendation algorithm”, Instagram also emphasizes the need to help creators “generate income” in the transformation process, and will further embrace e-commerce. This seems to be to attract more creators to Instagram. After all, in TikTok’s formula, the recommendation algorithm is equivalent to the chef, and the creator is equivalent to the raw material. It’s hard for a clever woman to cook without rice, and Instagram still needs to continue to expand the fundamentals of content in order to have a better chance of winning.

FB is also doing “creator motivation” on a larger level. This week, according to the New York Times, Facebook plans to invest $1 billion to encourage creators to settle in. “Smashing money” encourages creators, this is another martial arts secret of bytebeat.

Instagram Vs. TikTok

As a “short video stream”, TikTok’s product logic on the surface is very simple and very “easy to copy”. But under the surface, its functional design as a creative tool and byte-beating content mining algorithm are not easy to “copy”. TikTok’s technical depth far exceeds Snapchat in this respect.

When commenting on Instagram and TikTok, well-known technology critic Ben Thompson said that Instagram is about “sharing the moment”, and TikTok is about “creating the moment.”

Instagram, and the FB behind it, are based on the user’s social network. Users create, share, and consume content on it, weaving a “web”. So no matter how Reels changes in product logic, users will still see 15-second content that is not much different from “Snapshots”. It is essentially just a copy of “Snapshot”.

In contrast, TikTok and ByteDance are more like a “media company.” Although anyone can create and publish content on TikTok, a very small amount of “high-quality content” attracts most of the attention and is pushed to the information stream of more people. This structure is more like a “pyramid”, user-created content has to be “eliminated” by algorithms, but as long as it is verified to be “attractive enough”, it will be pushed to a large number of users. Although the user did not follow the creator.

Instagram catching up with TikTok

The future of Instagram is full of uncertainty. The only certainty is that it must continue to iterate and embrace change. |Instagram

From embracing social networks to defeat a lot of filter apps, to supporting video content, transforming the sorting algorithm, and imitating Snapchat. It is in constant changes that Instagram has grown step by step to the scale it is today. It is gradually understanding the essence of TikTok. But if you want to defeat TikTok, “imitation” is definitely not enough.

While the transition may fail, but stand still only a dead end one . Zuckerberg once wrote in an internal pamphlet: “In the Internet field, things that cannot keep up with the times will not even leave debris, they will only disappear.”

Last summer, Trump issued two consecutive executive orders to “block” TikTok. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration’s eye on TikTok was the result of Zuckerberg’s lobbying. He kept sending signals to politics that TikTok poses a threat to American society and security.

TikTok finally “survived”. In February of this year, the Biden administration submitted an application to the Federal Court to suspend the hearing of the appeal case regarding the TikTok ban. After a turbulent 2020, TikTok has also achieved a curve overtaking on FB. It is already the app with the highest average usage time for American users.

The confrontation between the two companies in the United States has just begun.

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