Instagram might be closing the curtains (for now) on live shopping, but new doors are opening, with the platform recently rolling out a new feature called ‘Instagram Channels’, which is essentially an in-app group messaging function where you can stay up to date on specific topics, brands, people, etc. Okay, so, Instagram has replicated elements from TikTok, BeReal, Snapchat, and now, what is this- Clubhouse? Twitter? If Instagram doesn’t win the ‘Most Versatile Social Platform’ award, we don’t know who will. It’s actually insane.
Change The Channel
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg even posted a couple of screenshots to highlight the new feature. If you check out his latest Instagram Story, Instagram Channels is a ‘broadcast chat’ that will support text, images, and polls, all within IG Direct. To be fair, Instagram, late last year, did mention that it plans to double down on the increasing activity revolving around DMs and private chat interactions. This is another take on that new push.
Once you join a channel, it’ll be added to your IG Direct chat list. Later on, you can read and react to messages posted in the chat, however, you yourself can’t post to the chat Feed. Wait. What? So, you’re basically like a ‘viewer only’ on a private Google doc. Either way, as mentioned earlier, it’s another way for Instagram to lean into the shift towards more private messaging in the app versus posting Stories or on the main Feed.
This is a key area that Meta wants to address. A recent internal report revealed that while time spent on Facebook and Instagram is increasing overall, creation and engagement continue to decline, with fewer people posting personal updates than they have in the past. However, several oversights do attribute this behavioral shift to the broader Social Media transition toward more private online interactions, as opposed to solely being Facebook’s fault for no longer being ‘the cool place to be’.
With that being said, this relates to the broader trend of users reverting to messaging instead, as opposed to sharing public updates and opinions. Channels could be another way to feed into this, potentially helping creators and brands to engage with their audience in more organic and native ways, as opposed to trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.
It could be a simple way to align with this usage, further building community in a new way. ‘Channels’ is in the process of being rolled out to selected users, while, as Zuckerberg notes, it’ll soon be expanded to Facebook and Messenger, too. Though relatively minor, depending on your brand direction and overall strategy, it could be a valuable consideration for your efforts.