Social Media

Instagram’s Identity Crisis

A man running along a path with large social media icons floating around him

i·den·ti·ty cri·sis


“A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.”

Instagram is having an identity crisis.

After adding countless platform changes in 2022, many users are complaining that they can’t see their family and friends’ posts anymore because suggested video shorts of people they don’t know (and ads) have taken over their feeds. It used to be an app focused on sharing aesthetic images of personal moments in our day-to-day, like our favourite places, food, and people. But now, Instagram is starting to feel like a Frankenstein’s monster of so many other social media apps’ features.

A Copycat of TikTok & Other Apps

Think of it this way—Instagram is like an adolescent who found someone to emulate—because right now, instead of being innovative, it’s copying other big players in social media. By doing this, Instagram is now essentially an app with fragmented bits and pieces you can see on a variety of platforms that have just been stitched together. Some examples include:

Remix Option

Remix is a tool that enables creators to create their own Reel alongside an existing Reel. It’s quite similar to TikTok’s “Duets”, a tool creators use to capture their reaction to a video or respond to fans.


Another TikTok-inspired feature, text-to-speech provides an artificial voice to read text overlays that you can add to your clip. We’re not mad about this update!

Full-Screen Vertical Feed

Instagram is developing a vertical-style feed for posts—the same user interface TikTok has. The thought behind this particular update was to display content in a “mobile-first” way. Some users even got to test it out and there were definitely mixed reactions.

“Add Yours” Sticker

Allows users to prompt audiences to respond to their content and engage in a creative way, Instagram added a feature called the “Add Yours” sticker. Again, this sounds like the Duet feature of TikTok where users can add to a duet chain to create long, interactive streams of content based on the original clip.

Video-First Content

In almost every functional way, Instagram Reels is TikTok. You’ll see the same influencers and hear the same songs. Except, maybe a few weeks behind what’s trending on the latter. And to top it all off, you’ll also watch the same clips because a significant portion of the videos you’ll see in Reels are just reposts from TikTok—they still even have the TikTok watermark!

In fact, a leaked internal report from Instagram stated that Reels engagement has been in a decline, dropping 13.6% in recent months, as users prefer spending their time scrolling TikTok.

Pinned Posts

Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok all allow users to keep specific posts pinned to the top of their profile page. And Instagram decided they wanted to do the same, by enabling pinned posts to be displayed above a user’s grid. This is a great update for brands who may have important info they want their followers to know!

Dual Camera Feature

BeReal is an app where you can post only once a day without filters or curation—no picture-perfect images here! Their main feature is a dual camera where you can record videos and take photos with both your front and back cameras simultaneously.

Well, guess what? Instagram launched an eerily similar dual camera feature of its own in a bid to combat the reputation for inauthenticity it has developed.

Monetizing Live Streams

Instagram is also testing a live-streaming platform called Super, where creators are allowed to monetize their streams. Viewers can donate or pay for tiered subscriptions and extra features… which is kind of like how Twitch works.

Is Instagram On Its Way Out?

To stay relevant, apps should be innovative and must keep up with the demands of today’s users. And the competition is stiff

TikTok has surpassed Instagram and Facebook in attracting and holding the attention of users. People spend an average of 45.8 minutes a day on the platform, followed closely by YouTube at 45.6 minutes. Both Instagram and Facebook are only at 30.1 minutes.

TikTok has about one billion monthly active users while Instagram has 1.3 billion. But with TikTok’s rapid growth, the platform is expected to close the gap and even overtake Instagram soon, with a projection of 1.8 billion users at the end of 2022

BeReal’s popularity also continues to rise. It stole the number one spot from TikTok on Apple’s App Store in July 2022 in the U.S. 

All these apps share one thing in common: they offer users a new experience. So if Instagram wants to stay relevant, it should put more focus on developing new, innovative features instead of struggling to keep up against younger, more nimble competitors. Otherwise, it may not last long.