Instagram is Turning into a Streaming App

A Post from Threads: Extended Version

I have a theory that instagram is turning into a content streaming app instead of a social media app. And Instagram is training some of us to be content creators while pushing the majority of us into a content consumer category.

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Post by @messyeverafter
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It seems these days that our attention is wanted more than our content. Social connection is not the primary objective. Scrolling through Reels for hours on end is. These apps make more money when we are consuming content than if we spend time interacting with comments on our own posts. (How else will we see the ads?) So why spread the reach around when it only needs to be given to a small percentage of effective content to keep us hooked?

Lately, the advice from Instagram has been to post 3 to 5 times a week and they explicitly say “avoid posting every day”. It used to take multiple posts a day to see growth, so why the change? Because they have plenty of content on the app that goes viral now. They need fewer creators and more eyes to consume.

Content creators that keep eyes on the screen flourish, and those of us who feel our reach is throttled are encouraged to scroll and scroll in search of templates, trending audio, and themes to mimic. Conveniently, when our mental health is suffering (from feeling invisible or the lack of opportunities that once existed) the anesthetic quality of scrolling is much easier to get lost in, further pushing us into the consumer category.

What better way to turn a creator into a consumer than to make them feel invisible? And any creator who encourages a user to leave the app (ex. to shop their store, read their blog, sign up for a class) is immediately chucked to the bottom of the algorithm. Or, excuse me, “the user driven Machine learning that distributes content on Instagram”.

The goal for Instagram is to maximize time on the app and increase views. Not to increase comments or follows. Nor to help artists thrive. They are farming free viral content to keep people watching while dangling the dream of growth in front of all creatives. I’m convinced we are all unpaid interns of a streaming app.

I have to admit that it’s a solid business model and it appears to be working just fine for them.

But take care of yourself. Be mindful of how you spend your attention. Don’t let the big ol’ corporations kill your artistic spirit.


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