WTF? Instagram Says Photos are a Priority Again (Here’s What it Means for Brands)

WTF? Instagram Says Photos are a Priority Again (Here’s What it Means for Brands)

“Do you recommend that we invest more heavily in video content in 2023?”

“I do because platforms are saying it’s their priority, but I don’t recommend upsetting your budget or chasing video at the cost of having meaningful conversations with your customers in whatever format is most accessible to your brand right now.”

“Yea, but I mean, we all know it’s all about video.”

“Sure, that’s what the headlines read. But in analyzing a dozen of my client accounts, most of our highest reach content that accelerates audience growth are simple images – memes, quotes, that kind of thing. The headlines are focused on what Meta wants to see from content creators to keep it competitive with Tik Tok – what we see performing for product and service-based brands varies.”

This conversation occurred when I was consulting the marketing department of a massive-with-a-capital-B company in 2022. Afterward, I had a little bit of a hangover – why was my point of view on the industry always just a little bit different than the mainstream? Was I just an elder social media marketer clinging to the past? Still, I was right about our analysis – those were number-backed facts.

My hypothesis is that social media giants like Zuck and his cronies feed the media headlines about our industry's “best practices” with information that will shape user behavior in a way that keeps Meta competitive with TikTok and boost shareholder value. Isn’t that how business and mainstream media work together to maximize profits? Since they’re all battling over advertising dollars, they’re in a war for content creators on their platforms, and Reels has been Meta’s money machine. But all of that has very little to do with what’s best for brands.

I’ve been a social media growth strategist for consumer and b2b brands for 13 years and here’s what I’m more certain of than anything: The industry is working harder for Meta’s shareholders and men in suits than it ever will for you and your small brand. The headlines we see about how critical it is to change your strategy with the algorithm and adjust your content to one trend or another need to be taken with a big, coarse, Himalayan grain of salt.

 Sure enough, Instagram’s CEO recently said that photos will remain a key focus for the app, and that maybe they were a little overfocused on video in 2022. (Social Media Today, 2023)

Smart, in my opinion, since that’s an actual point of differentiation between them and their competitors. 

There are a lot of risks that come with social media marketing as it is, so I approach our industry’s news cycle with the same discerning attitude with which I approach mainstream media. It’s not that we don’t experiment with emerging technology and new formats while we have some fun with trends. But that’s the side dish, not the main course, and we never ever spoil our appetite. 

What I mean is, if video content is more efficient for you and your audience likes it? Keep going. If your content format of choice is something different? Lean into your strengths. 

We’re far more focused on designing your most efficient and powerful digital marketing growth system – one that’s right for the unique organization of your brand, your goals, and your resources – than we are with following “directions” and posting on any platform every single day. That’s why our clients are reporting triple-digit growth this January over last, while also making claims about clarity, calm, and ease.

We onboard a few like-minded clients each month. If you want to learn more about reaching your brand growth goals with a personalized strategy and support from a group of folks that want to see you reach your wildest financial goals while protecting your peace and having fun while we’re at it, apply here.


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