If you’ve noticed that your Instagram Stories are getting less reach, there’s a good chance it’s because of TikTok. TikTok’s surging popularity and usage have quickly earned the attention and concern of Instagram, YouTube, and others. All the social media platforms are fighting for your attention, and TikTok is winning at the moment, at least when it comes to Gen Z.
There are three ways TikTok is reducing the reach for your stories. First, by taking eyeballs away from Instagram. Second, by forcing Instagram to prioritize Reels over Stories. Although this third way is somewhat speculative, the onslaught of influencer marketing on Instagram is forcing users to engage less with the platform.
Competition for Eye Balls
Most medium size content creators (audience size between 100k and 500k) have most of their followers on one platform. So as their followers’ attention shifts to a different platform, their reach and engagement suffer. Competition is the easiest to understand and the hardest to combat. Building a following on Instagram is no easy feat, and building it again on TikTok is asking to catch lightning in a bottle twice.
Instagram knows advertising and marketing are the lifeblood of the platform. They also know too much will hurt their bottom line in the long run. So they are attempting to provide an alternative in monthly subscriptions, so content creators make better content and market less. But monthly subscriptions have a terrible churn rate, with most subscribers unsubscribing after only three months. It doesn’t appear they have a long-term solution to compete with TikTok. And it seems Instagram doesn’t have a real answer to their problem.
Shift to Reels
Instagram’s plan is to fight fire with fire, introducing Reels in 2020. Short-form videos to compete with TikTok. Short-form videos are like crack to Internet goers, even coaxing YouTube to adopt the format. Instagram is going all in on Reels, so creators must shift their content to follow the almighty algorithms and focus on Reels.
When you adopt new features (especially early), you get rewarded by the algorithms. Two years in is too late to be an early adopter of Reels, but it’s not too late to focus on Reels. When Instagram de-prioritizes a feature (Stories), you should take a serious interest in de-prioritizing that feature too.
Influencer Marketing Mayhem
Most influencers charge significantly more for a Reel than a Story. So most marketers naturally opt for Stories. Causing marketing material to concentrate in Story feeds. Unsurprising, people hate ads, but they will tolerate some ads as long as they get the content their looking for. But with most influencers and many content creators turning their Stories into thinly veiled advertisements, a user’s Story feed feels like an endless commercial, causing people to shift to Reels or leave for TikTok.
Studies have shown people will stop following accounts or stop visiting accounts with excessive advertising. What does this have to do with TikTok? Google “shoes”…. ads everywhere. Search “shoes” on Instagram… ads everywhere. And TikTok? There are ads, but most posts are stupid videos from real people who are not trying to advertise to you.
TikTok has plenty of marketing content on its platform. Brands, agencies, and Influencers haven’t ignored TikTok. It’s hard to describe how TikTok does influencer marketing differently, but it seems less pervasive and less disguised, at least on the FYP and in searches.
So what can you do about it? Well, not much. You can make your Stories as relevant to your audience as possible. You can switch your focus to Reels. If you’re desperate can change your focus to TikTok.
Ultimately, your only recourse is to focus on your fans, not your follower count. Creating interesting and engaging content for your core fans will give you a foundation to build on.
The more you market, the less interested your audience will be in the long run. You don’t need to stop completely, but you may need to scale down the marketing. An alternative income source to influencer marketing is Yodl.
Content creators from any platform with tips, tutorials, and how-to posts can sell their skills and knowledge to their fans through one-on-one video chat sessions on Yodl. Your core fans are looking for more engagement with you. Yodl is a new way for content creators to offer fans meaningful engagement and make money without relying on influencer marketing.
TikTok’s secret sauce is the perception (real or fake) of meaningfulness and authenticity in the videos. Content creators (and Instagram itself) would do themselves good to follow TikTok’s lead.