Instagram today announced some significant changes to its design — it added tabs for Reels (TikTok clone) and Shopping in the new app — once again moving away from its core identity as a visual social network. It is now just Facebook 2.0, with fewer words and more photos. The new emphasis reminded me of my observation from two years ago when IGTV launched: Instagram is the new QVC.
At that time, I pointed out that QVC is “primarily an engaging and addictive way to move inventory,” where brands tell their own story and “use the dopamine effect to move product.” None of the products were excellent, but QVC allowed brands to talk about their “benefits” and not features. And that created a lust for the product. You could replace QVC and insert Instagram, except at the scale of over a billion people.
Well, IGTV was as mediocre as they come. The new Shop and Reels tabs make everything dumb and easy. QVC 2.0 is coming into sharp focus. I feel sad for photographers who think their future is on Instagram and the social network it brings. They don’t realize that they are there to help sell tchotchkes.