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Instagram Moving Forward With 'Tall' Photo Format, Whether You Like It Or Not

by Rudy Sanchez on 08/09/2022 | 2 Minute Read

Meta’s Instagram rose to prominence as a photo-centric social media platform, launching on iPhone in 2010. This focus on images attracted influential personalities like Kim Kardashian, who would quickly leverage the platform to propel her star. But it just wasn’t the Kardashian clan that leveraged Instagram for personal promotion; other brands, celebrities, and a cadre of newly sprouted influencers would mutually benefit from the platform, fueling personal growth while giving lift and relevancy to the photo-sharing app.

In the past, Instagram has fought back competition for attention from social media newcomers like Snapchat and Periscope. Still, none have rustled the ‘Gram’s jimmies quite like we’re-totally-not-sharing-all-your-data-with-the-Chinese-government platform TikTok. ByteDance’s popular app has Instagram questioning its market position and making seemingly unpopular design decisions to stave off the Gen Z favorite.

Following a reverse course on suggested content and emphasis on its TikTok clone feature Reels, Instagram is still moving forward with plans to test a “tall,” 9:16 format for picture posts that would mimic videos on both TikTok and Instagram. The new interface would include gradients and overlays over the 9:16 formatted images. Apart from the awkward formatting, the gradient overlays, intended to make text easier to read, also darken parts of the photos.

The series of unpopular user interface design changes and calls from some of its most followed influencers, namely Kim Kardashian and sister Kylie Jenner, to “Make Instagram Instagram Again,” highlighting the different use cases of a photo-sharing site versus a video platform where you can follow middle schoolers stealing and flagrantly joyriding in stolen Kias.

For brands and creatives, it’s another reminder not to put all of one’s eggs in Zuckerberg’s basket. Drastic shifts in priority and user interfaces at Meta can have brands, agencies, and designers scrambling to find other ways to promote themselves on social media. Changes to algorithms can mean your followers miss your posts or, worse, are shown competitors’ posts. Weird and drastic design changes drive away the followers you’ve earned over the years.

In the end, it might not be TikTok that takes out the photo-sharing social media platform. Instagram may kill itself trying to be something it's not while ignoring what users, including those with over 328 million followers like Kim Kardashian, continue to like and expect from the platform.