The co-founders of Instagram (Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger) left Facebook in the fall of 2018. They were tired of dealing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was implementing a number of redesigns to wring $ out of the app.
The pair are probably having convulsions right now.
Last week, Instagram replaced the “+” photo upload button at the bottom of the app with Reels (AKA its TikTok clone) and a shopping tab next to it.
Short-form video is here to stay
In response to TikTok’s meteoric rise — going from 0 to 100m US monthly active users in less than 3 years — Instagram launched Reels in September.
Instagram was able to rip off Snapchat’s Stories with its own version but taking on TikTok is a different challenge.
TikTok is built on an interest graph (and will feed you content regardless of who you follow) while Instagram is built on a social graph (and prioritizes content from those you follow).
While these are very different use cases, Instagram is clearly seeing enough traction to double down.
The bigger fish may be the shopping tab
As noted by ecommerce expert Web Smith, Instagram — with its Shopify integration, Facebook Pay, marketing and audience development tools — is building an ecommerce alternative to Amazon.
The model Instagram is pursuing is known as social commerce. It’s massive in China, where this ecommerce model did ~$190B in 2019 (10x the US).
For Scrooge McZuck, that opportunity is a priority and the redesign is proof.