A new era of Instagram is upon us. 📲 (Or so they say. In short they’re just stealing from TikTok like they’ve done with Snapchat, Shopify and other popular social media platforms in the past 😉).
Instagram is testing a new full-screen Home feed with more suggested video content.
Much like on TikTok, posts in the main feed will take up the entirety of the screen, and users will need to perform a swipe up motion to skip to the next post.
In addition to this major UI upgrade, Instagram has also introduced more suggested content into the Home page – particularly Instagram Reels.
So what does this mean for the future of Instagram, how does this affect you as an artist or a label owner and what does it mean for the music industry and fans going forward?
The Death of the Square Photo and Video
Ever since Instagram was born in 2010, sharing posts has always been about the square photo (1080 x 1080 pixels). By the end of this year, there will be no more square photos on Instagram. The new go to format is 4 x 5 (1080 x 1350 pixels).
Now this format is not new, it’s been around a while on Instagram since they introduced Instagram Stories in 2018. With this major shift to vertical video (Reels) and the ever-growing audience on TikTok, square photos are becoming decreasingly important on Instagram with engagement on these photos becoming less and less.
Now about about square artwork for record labels? I’ll answer this question a bit further down the article.
Now what about landscape photos and videos?
Landscape photos and videos will also become a thing of the past. Now I get it, you’re behind the DJ booth and your favourite DJ is about to drop a banger and the confetti cannons are about to go crazy. You want to capture the whole video so you can get both cannons either side of the DJ’s crazy techno flicking or fist bumping as it will look great for the ‘Gram…
Well, tough. By the time this new update rolls out worldwide, these kind of videos will needed to be filmed in vertical. This also applies to fans. Festival stages are of course huge and filming your favourite song from the dance floor will look better in landscape as you will be able to get both the lasers and ice cannon in your shot…
Now what about promo videos and after-movies?
If you’re a videographer, designer or promoter and you have not caught on that Reels and TikTok’s are the go to content of social media right now, what rock have you been hiding under?
It’s time to adapt especially with festival season literally about to explode in Europe. If you are a promoter or marketing manager and you are not briefing your videographer to create your promo videos or after-movies in vertical then now is the time to change that.
After-movies fell out of trend a lot time ago anyway with fans preferring to engage with more raw content of live events.
Socially Sound Tip 💡 Instead of focusing on one 90 second to two minute after-movie, focus on making several short promo videos per month by bringing in full-time content teams to your events. Content is king and in this ever-changing landscape where attention spans are short and content volume is higher than ever, short impactful content filmed in vertical is the way to go. 💡
Labels and Promoters – But what about square flyers?
To write this in the most simple way possible – if you’re a label – the only reason you need a square asset for Beatport, your website and DSP (Digital Streaming Platform) submission. That’s it.
Labels like Ninja Tune and Afterlife have been pioneering immersive video content for record labels for some time. wAFF’s new label Nature created the best animations for a release I’ve ever seen. It’s time to catch up.
Socially Sound Tip: 💡 If you’re a designer who only works in Photoshop, it’s time to learn some new skills. The demand for immersive video flyers from record labels is about to sky rocket. 💡
(Record labels – that means you’re going to have to be prepared to pay more 🤷♀️)
Vinyl Only Labels
If you’re a label that focuses on vinyl, you won’t be effected that much by these updates. It’s not the size of the vinyl sleeve that’s changing so as long as you are sharing your content in 4 x 5 or vertical Stories and Reels then you can carry on as normal.
If you’re a promoter – it’s time to move on.
Static square flyers are a pain for most designers anyway so if anything, you should see these updates from Instagram as a good thing. If you’re an old school promoter and you used to print off A3 flyers and poster them around town – then the shift to vertical content should allow you to focus more on this but in a more digital way.
Moving forwards, static assets will not be needed in square and you will only need to create assets for feed and Stories in 4 x5 (1080 x 1350) and 1080 x 1920 (Stories and Reels). However, you will need to make sure you are working with creatives or marketing teams who understand the shift to video and how this affects your strategy.
The future of carousels
Well, this is where it gets fun.
Carousels will also be moving to 4 x 5 meaning square and landscape photos and videos as a carousel will get automatically resized by Instagram – this may lead to a reduction in quality or some of the key parts of the video being cut off.
(Sorry Chris Stussy – I know you love your landscape carousels).
Socially Sound Tip: 💡 Low quality iPhone footage from a dark club in landscape will not look pretty. At all. Stop posting it and hire a videographer who gets it. 💡
You can see two examples of how a carousel will look in this new vertical experience below and how captions will change to go over the top of the photos/videos.
Now this is where I feel we will see the biggest change. It feels like captions are becoming undervalued and will soon become less of the experience on Instagram. Personally, I think this is a great shame as a powerful caption is as important as the photo or video for engagement.
To get around the lack of captions, instead of writing it out, you are just going to have to film it and use text over your video to tell the story – a trend we see a lot on TikTok.
Another way is simply create a 4×5 asset with the text on. This can be quite effective in your iPhone Notes. It’s low budget and authentic.
Here’s a great example of how Maur used a caption on the video to hook you in to watch the video. This trend will become more of a thing going forward with artists.