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Why Instagram wants to become TikTok

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Why Instagram wants to become TikTok

Every social network it is different from the other. And it is for many different reasons: from functionality, to content moderation, to the people who live there. However, there is one thing that has a huge impact, but one that we often tend not to consider when discussing platforms social: design. And indeed one of the big ones differences of TikTok compared to the social networks that preceded it, it is precisely the way of presenting information. Those full-screen videos leave no way out, the user can only watch.

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After having eyed the format of the videos with the Reels, now Instagram seems to have targeted the design of TikTok. In a video message, the number 1 of Meta’s social network, Adam Mosseri, explained how a new full-screen home page is being tested. In other words, when we access Instagram, we will see the contents (videos, but also photos) completely fill the smartphone. Will remain, assure from Metaa space at the top dedicated to stories and at the bottom for research and access to your profile but the intention seems clear: to make the experience within Meta more immersive, more engaging.

The algorithm challenge

Involving people, however, does not only mean offering them an immersive environment, with full-screen images. It also means suggesting the content they want when they want to watch it. And this is, in reality, the real director on which Instagram is working the most to curb the growth of TikTok in 2021 (we had told it here).

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Zuckerberg also said this, introducing i results for the first quarter of 2021: “Being able to thoroughly recommend content that comes from users you don’t follow unlocks a wealth of interesting and useful videos and posts that you might otherwise miss. We are working on an artificial intelligence that is not just a recommendation system for short videos, but a technology capable of showing the user all the most interesting content that people have shared on the platform. “

In other words, Meta’s will is to evolve from a system based on social circles to one centered on interests. When we enter Instagram, or Facebook, the algorithm currently recommends posts that it imagines may interest us, but always based on the people or organizations we decide to follow. In the future, as on TikTok, Zuckerberg imagines recommendations based on what we like, which involves us, regardless of the relationship with those who publish the content.

This is a system that works extremely well for the Chinese social network. And there is a recent data that well explains Instagram’s interest in the model inaugurated by the Bytedance platform. TikTok, according to the latest report by Social Insider analysts, has an engagement rate of over 5%. Instagram, to understand, is at 0.83, Facebook at 0.13. It means, to put it simply, that when you publish a video on TikTok, on average, you receive about 6 likes, comments or shares for every 100 followers. On Instagram just under 1, on Facebook almost zero.

What does design have to do with algorithm?

The path now appears clearer. Meta (and therefore Instagram, but also Facebook) has understood that the TikTok model works and is working to bring its products closer to that content organization. But what does design have to do with it? There is a US tech expert named Eugene Wei who argues that a key part of TikTok’s algorithm effectiveness is how the platform is designated.

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According to Wei, the design of the social network di Bytedance is fully geared towards the functioning of its content recommendation system. TikTok, in fact, is graphically designed to give its algorithm as many useful signals as possible, useful information to understand the tastes of users.

The entire screen of the application is filled with one video at a time and when we log in we see nothing else: only a full-screen content, vertically. The video plays automatically almost immediately, and subsequent ones load in the background, so they can be played quickly once the user decides to scroll down. Such a design has a specific goal. The user has to answer an immediate question: how do you feel about this short video? Each answer to this question is information for the algorithm: there are no exits, no loopholes, no potential sources of distraction.

This design allows the artificial intelligence to drive the TikTok algorithm to know in the best possible way the individual users, their tastes, their passions of the moment. And, consequently, it allows you to provide them with what they want, what in all likelihood will keep them glued to the platform (we talked about it here). It is this, through design, that Instagram is trying to replicate.

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