Instagram is Becoming TikTok
And users are horrified and ashamed to be nostalgic
It’s a bit painful when apps we became attached to or figured out as Creators, change their business model completely. Here of course I am talking about Instagram thinking it should copy TikTok, in all aspects!
I haven’t used Instagram in years, but the pain is real. Take my poll.
Nostalgia isn’t hopeless, it’s real in the history of the internet. As users churn from Instagram to TikTok, and BeReal continues its authentic moment in App downloads, being betrayed by apps is nothing new to us.
After all, Mark Zuckerberg copied Stories from Snapchat.
Still it’s tragic for those Creators, storytellers and people who have based so much of their time and life on platforms like Instagram.
We all feel what Emma is saying, to some extent.
The Scam of Walled Gardens
Platforms aren’t customer centric like Amazon, they are purely Ads-centric where you are just ARPU, the average revenue per user formula. If you are the product, platforms can also and do on a regular basis, break your heart.
TikTik on the other hand is fluffy, they have more than 39,000 TikTok accounts have at least 1 million followers, far more than on YouTube or Instagram. However, many of them don’t turn their virality into a real business.
What does this mean?
Creators earn about $1,674 on average a month on TikTok, compared to $4,118 on YouTube and $3,853 on Instagram, according to a 2021 survey.
I wonder what the average Creator on Substack earns? Considering there aren’t that many of us, I’d wager it’s rather high as an average.
If you aren’t a professional writer or influencer, it will be difficult for you to scale or monetize your Substack.
No Middle Class in the Creator Economy
So what are the platforms teaching us? To get in early, to pivot with the times?
I don’t know the answer. Perhaps only the best of YouTube creators make serious money. The influencer game is an intense journey. If the majority of micro-influencers on Instagram, LinkedIn or Substack are cash poor, should we be worried?
If even TikTok is using us for vanity impressions, what does it all mean?
Seva Mozhaeve said on LinkedIn:
The early 2000s reality “15 sec of fame” shows really are a repeat on TikTok, where these TikTok celebrities are going viral easily, amassing ridiculous amounts of followers and instantly thinking it’s all smooth sailing from there.
And his point is common, Seva continued:
As fellow creators hit the big 1m and plunging out into nothing because they either:
- Lack the business skills to make something of it
- Lack the pivoting skills to reinvent themselves
- They blame the app for not seeing linear growth
So do we really lack of the business skills or are the walled gardens just using us?
The Creator Economy is a Mental Health Warzone
YouTube has created a fame factory, but is it even real? The Creator economy means some basic revenue sharing is starting to occur, but it’s more like a trickle. As Ads growth is near zero already in Q2, one wonders the pain that the Creator Economy is going to experience in the recession of 2023.
Instagram copying TikTok feels like a brutal betrayal, but platforms need to pivot or die. Sadly as Creators, so do we.
Or perhaps you have an alternative healthier perspective?
Will fiction writers suddenly make it big with NFTs? Should writers start podcasts?
Creators are surprisingly reliant on “Sponsored deals”, maybe subscriptions aren’t enough, we need to diversify our revenue in new ways. Creating content and community around it is not as easy as they tell you.
Clearly as artists, writers and crafters we aren’t necessarily interested in pivoting what we do or how we do it just to please “the algo”.
Thanks for reading!
I don't think it is so much about pivoting, as it is about enhancing and updating, but at the same time staying true to your core. And that is where I see a difference between, for instance, Instagram and Twitter. Twitter, even though it tries to add extra stuff, extra functionality, I would like to argue that in its core, it is still that micro-blogging service. Instagram is, like you say, trying to 'pivot' into something that people didn't sign up for (at least judging by the loudest reactions, right now) and then there's a big chance people will leave or at least stop using it – which I think was already the case when they started this whole thing with pushing videos and reels in the first place. And the whole algorithmic trouble is just amplifying all the mess that was wrong with their thinking and their approach.