Social Media in 2022 & The Creator’s Dilemma

Mark A. Carlson

Hi. Hello there! It has been a minute! Amidst the business of the holiday season and the end of the year I definitely neglected this space, but I am back for now, as I think there’s something really valuable about long form writing, and having images and links LIVE somewhere outside of just an instagram highlight. I even reference back to my own posts sometimes, and find it helpful for future steffy! I wanted to share some thoughts and feelings about the current state of instagram in 2022- I feel like I share my thoughts on this app that we all lose so much time to every year, and I think it’s often something we as creators worry about speaking about openly for fear of looking like we are whining, or like we are only hungry for growth VS connecting with the audience that we’ve already cultivated. The truth is that the future of this app, and social media as a whole, is completely out of all of our control, and I think that it matters enough to discuss where it is headed. I think what IS NOT useful is simply complaining about “the algorithm” as this big bad guy who is out to individually get us. Which it is not. But the changes that I’ve seen in the industry recently have been tremendous, and I think that from 2021 – 2022, it has been the largest shift that I’ve ever seen since I started this blog back in 2010. So let’s discuss!

For starters, I polled all of you on your preference for Photo VS video on instagram. A majority of you chose photos as your preference. BUT, I am sorry to say, that what started during 2020 as “pandemic boredom” on Tik Tok just grew and grew and grew, and as 2021 continued on, it became REALLY clear to me that video was king, and would continue to grow with time. I think the largest question that most of you ask me is “if my audience likes photos so much, why would I post more video?” but the truth is, my own audience actually sees far less of my posts than you would think. When I choose to agree with instagrams hidden agenda and post a video, the reach is far greater, as well as the potential for the video to go viral. If I post a photo, it usually gets hidden/ buried. and then a lot of you will DM me and say “I never saw that post!!”

In some ways, this is frustrating, but in others it forces me to SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY, and to also ask myself hard questions. The hardest question of all is “Is it worth it to share photos?” and the answer for me is yes – but maybe a bit less. The largest difference that I can see from a video to a photo is that a photo comes with a longer and more thought-out caption. I love to read thoughtful captions, and save ones that speak to me along the way. A lot of the content creators that I follow have chosen to fully do away with photos in order to chase the video reach, but I find that the human connection piece is sometimes greater with a photo that was taken that day, in a special moment VS a video that was pre-shot and edited. I also have spent almost every single day of my life for the past ten years shooting photos, so it feels strange to just… stop! Only because instagram says to! But I do think that a ‘time spend shift’ is happening for everyone who is trying to adjust to the changing times, and at a certain point we are all hitting the realization that if we’re not spending more time on filming, learning to edit, viewing videos for inspiration, etc, we are going to fall behind. That’s the biggest fear with working in marketing – FALLING BEHIND. Nobody wants to be the last one to show up to the party, and trust me when I say that I’ve seen a lot of people out there think they’re too old to learn new things, or that *they wont be effected* by the shift, but at the end of the day (or year truthfully lol) it WILL effect every single one of us, and even if we’re not personally aware, it probably already has.

It has has an impact on all of us in an invisible way, which is time spend. I’m not sure about all of you (but let me know in the comments!) but I find myself splitting my time 50/50 – maybe even 60/40 more and more with Tik Tok falling on the 60% side for where I spend my time. There is also a trickle down effect with trends, and ALMOST ALL OF THEM originate on Tik Tok, and make there way to instagram – not the other way around. So in some ways, doesn’t that mean that Tik Tok is on top? So not only are more and more videos being created, but people are opting to spend their time on a video-only app, and instagram is freaking out, and watching their time spend decline. That is scary for them, and TBH it should be scary for creators too, right?

It doesn’t necessarily scare me so much as it has opened my eyes to how quickly this industry moves, and it has forced me to be adaptable. Which I love! Remember when we all spent every single night scrolling through Facebook, and chatting on FB messenger? That feels like a very long time ago, and who knows – maybe in ten years we will all be laughing about that time we used to DM eachother and worry about our likes on an app called instagram.

As creators, we always face the dilemma of choosing between what our audience wants VS what the platform we’re relying on is pushing VS our own personal wants and needs. The best thing for me to do if I am feeling overwhelmed or confused by it all is to take a step back, re-assess, chat with all of you, and really think hard about what is important to me along with what the future holds. I have no certainty at all about if instagram will fade away, or if marketing budgets will never fully shift to Tik Tok because of the barriers of entry, but what I do know is that video content is the future. The creators dilemma on how to make the audience that once loved our photos grow to love our videos as well is a hurdle we’re all learning to overcome, and as much as creators are resisting the change, THE INSTAGRAM AUDIENCE is resisting it even more-so. But my hope from the growth of video is that we do away with all of the false pretenses of perfection, the perfect photo, the perfect life, the excessive filtering and instead we look to video for a more honest lens at life, and it’s special moments. I hope it undoes some of the negative impacts that instagram photos has had on all of our mental health.

What do you think about the shift? Are you for it or against it?

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