Yes – it’s a strong word, but I hate that Instagram is prioritising video over photographs. Let’s go back a little.
I joined Pinterest when it was invite-only. It was circa 2010, and my friend knew I was creative and thought I would like an invitation. Damn – Pinterest was cool. The platform itself was great, where you could save ideas into your own categories, but the best part for me was the quality of the beautiful photos and the breadth of topics. Pinterest introduced people to things they had never seen before, with a quality that was so aesthetically pleasing that I was always enticed to return quickly.
I had a personal account on Pinterest, and I was pinning everything from stunning interiors to logo designs to recipes. I had about 30 boards. Pinterest boomed, and we all went there to feel inspired to uplevel all aspects of our life.
The Beauty of Photography
It had a feeling. The photos that I’d saved had a feeling, that oooh and aaaah that you feel in your body that is expansive and warm. It might sound a little over the top, but it’s not. Our visual sense is the most important one we have, providing the very large majority of input into our brain. If you don’t know me, I’m not only a wedding stationer but a Clinical Neuropsychologist too. Trust me when I say that there is a powerful connection between your visual input and the feelings that you experience. This is why you love looking at beautiful things, why you feel good when your home environment is clean and beautiful, why you want to wear beautiful clothes, and why you feel amazing when you go for a walk in nature! It’s not superficial, it’s an important part of your daily experience.
Pinterest did that for me. I was late to the party with Instagram though. I remember talking to a friend when our now-8-year-olds were babies, trying to decide if I would open an Instagram business account! Oh how I laugh now! Even though I was a little late, I do remember the filters (Mayfair, anyone?!) At this time, Instagram did not have that feeling that Pinterest gave me. The filters made everyone’s photos look the same, and because it was social media and not a content curation platform like Pinterest, people were posting lower-quality photos and adding the filter with the aim of making them look “better”. Thank goodness that the evolution of Instagram, helped along with the fast-improving camera quality in iPhones, meant that the quality of photos on Instagram was elevated to the highest order, along with Pinterest.
Instagram was the best of both worlds! I could be inspired, get that beautiful feeling, use the new “Save to Collections” function, AND be social! In my opinion, Instagram was at its peak here.
The Dreaded “Instagram Prioritising Video”
Now, things are different. Reels were introduced, and then Instagram told us all that it was prioritising video. It’s even at the point now where I’m seeing accounts post one-second videos that actually looks like photos, to trick the algorithm into distributing these posts more. Scroll your feed for a minute and the majority of posts are photos.
But I don’t want this! And I don’t think you do either. Take one look at the comments section on Instagram’s CEO’s posts about Instagram changes, and you’ll see what we want. We want photos! Tens of thousands of people are telling you that they want value, they want quality, and they want PHOTOS. And you’ve read here why that is! We don’t want to see the dancing and pointing. We don’t want to see the low-quality filming. We don’t want to wait 15 seconds to get to the end to see the nice stuff. And we don’t want the stupid parodies and the “how to ice a cake.” We want to see the beautiful, awe-inspiring photography of creators, businesses, our friends, and people around the world.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that a professional, meaningful, cinematically-brilliant video isn’t special. I love those. They can have the same and even more of that special feeling that we get from photographs. But that’s not what Reels has become.
This change of Instagram prioritising video speaks to another issue here.
You don’t have to be like everybody else, just because it’s popular.
Instagram doesn’t have to be the same as TikTok. Pinterest doesn’t have to do Idea Pins to battle Instagram’s Stories feature. We flocked to Instagram by the millions because it was the best app to be both inspired and social – by sharing photos. If we wanted fun and silly videos, we’d use TikTok! Pinterest I’m looking at you too. We don’t want to watch people putting on outfits in our feed, just show us the beautiful final look we can aspire too. Isn’t it an important message to reinforce that we can all be ourselves? Focus on what makes you special, and stick with that. The moment you start mixing ideas and taking parts from others is when you lose authenticity and cause confusion. This is a sure-fire way to lose people.
We’re not dumb. We can use more than one app in a day. We can use Instagram AND TikTok, they’re not mutually exclusive. I will happily scroll Instagram, then scroll Facebook (like the old person that I am), and then happily scroll Pinterest! And when the purpose of an app is clear, I’ll go to each different one for a different reason, because I’m not a single-celled organism. No hostile takeover of ideas required!
Stop Prioritising Video Instagram
So I’m asking for clarity. Be a photo-sharing app Instagram, like we love you for. Like we all want you to be. Like why we came to you in the first place.
“Video killed the radio star” – and now it’s killing the photograph too.
Will I still make annoying Instagram videos with my terrible videoing skills? Yes, because I want clients who will love my work to find me (the reach is much higher). But do I love it? No. And that’s no way to keep your fans coming back.