As Kim and Kylie manage to marshal just 0.0003% of their combined Instagram following into signing a petition focused on Instagram algorithm changes we take a contrarian look at the saga.
Last week I wrote about Kylie Jenner reposting an image to her 360 million Instagram fans imploring the platform “Make Instagram Instagram again (stop trying to be TikTok I just want to see cute photos of my friends) sincerely everyone X.” Soon after half-sister Kim Kardashian shared the same repost.
A few short hours later, Insta’s head, Adam Mosseri, was yanked out of meetings or bed or whatever to upload a response via Reels (natch). I don’t agree with the received wisdom that Kylie’s Tweet back in 2018 had a material effect on the Snap share price. Headlines at the time linked Kylie’s announcement she was quitting Snap with a slump in Snap’s worth by $1.3 billion. You can read why I disagree here (spoiler alert: it was more to do with the contents of the company’s annual financial report filed with regulators the same day as her Tweet).
Anyhoo Mosseri addressed his platform’s feature changes again later in the week with a (staged) AMA. Here are a few contrarian thoughts about his messaging from the video and the overall KIm/Kylie/Instagram saga:
Creator loyalty doesn’t appear to count for much: In the past year we’ve seen Instagram focus on scaling efforts to retain its community of influencers. But in last week’s AMA with Adam Mosseri, the Instagram boss said: “we’re going to prioritise smaller creators over bigger ones”. This doesn’t sound like a reward for loyalists.
Code for ageism? The Frances Haugen-leaked Meta papers show the firm is paranoid about its ageing user-base. Favouring smaller creators over the established ones isn’t overtly ageist – and it would be illegal if that was the case. However, Facebook acquired Instagram 10 years ago. The much-coveted teens and early twenty-somethings of the time, who built followers on the platform, are now either entering or departing their third decade.
Was it Kim ‘n’ Kylie wot won it? Mosseri says his Reels video uploaded on Monday last week was already ‘in the can’ before Kylie Jenner and half-sister Kim Kardashian had reposted the message: ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again’ to their combined 686 million followers. But what really prompted Instagram to row back? Was it Kim ‘n’ Kylie? Mid-last-week, the related Change.org petition had fewer than 200,000 names on it. That equates to 0.0003% of the Kim ‘n’ Kylie combined Instagram follower count. It is far more likely that Instagram’s rethink was down to the coverage of news outlets read by its investors, amid a week that saw Meta report its first-ever revenue decline in earnings.
Isn’t the recommendation tab good news for creators? Some creators are pleased. They’re excited that their content will have the potential to be seen by far more people than previously. A note of caution though: as Instagram slips from optimising its social graph in favour of the content graph, creators may find their followers see far less of their content. In my newsletter last week for Fourth Floor, I noted that only 14% of TikTok creators’ video views come from their followers.
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