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New Instagram interface to nix Shop tab and deprioritize TikTok competitor product Reels


By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

January 10, 2023 | 6 min read

The social media giant’s new design will see the Shop tab axed and Reels booted from its centralized position in the user interface.


Instagram is revamping its user interface / Charles Deluvio

Meta-owned Instagram today announced that it plans to streamline its user interface (UI), beginning in February.

Here are the key changes to know.

What happened

• Beginning next month, Instagram will update its UI to “make it easier for people to share and connect with their friends and interests,” according to an update published today on the company’s website.

• One key change is the forthcoming elimination of the Shop tab from the main navigation hub. Instagram says brands will still be able to run social commerce through the app and hints that it has plans to overhaul the platform’s entire shopping experience. In the announcement posted today, the brand said it will “continue to invest in shopping experiences that provide the most value for people and businesses across feeds, stories, reels, ads and more.”

• Further, the Reels tab – which currently occupies the centermost position in the main navigation interface – will slide to the right. In its place will be the content creation button – signified by a plus-sign icon – to encourage users to create and post their own images and videos.

Why it matters

• Instagram has invested major dollars and engineering resources in recent years in the development of its commerce and shopping features. Last spring, it rolled out new features including the Drops tab to replicate the hype of sneaker and music culture and drive engagement for brands of all kinds.

• Although social commerce has garnered a lot of attention and investment from brands and platforms in recent years, the trend could be slowing. As it stands, social commerce still represents only a small fraction of online sales – in 2022, it accounted for just 4.4% of all e-commerce purchases. Low return on investment and stagnating growth could be the reason for Instagram’s decision to deprioritize shopping on the app.

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• Some experts predict that, as it evolves, social commerce will need to rely more heavily on direct advertising rather than user-generated content in order to capture more consumer dollars. “Ads will be the primary driver of social shopping and sales,” said Jasmine Enberg, a principal analyst at Insider Intelligence’s eMarketer specializing in social, said at a recent trend forecasting event held by Insider Intelligence.

• Shifting the Reels tab to a less-central position may signal that Meta is pumping the brakes on its mission to compete with TikTok. Last summer, dramatic platform changes that algorithmically prioritized Reels in users’ feeds generated a harsh backlash. Kylie Jenner’s vocal disapproval – including a plea that the company “stop trying to be TikTok” – sparked Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri to address the controversy and walk back some of the changes.

• Now, Instagram appears to be backing off its previously-aggressive Reels push again. Considering that user engagement with TikTok vastly outpaces engagement with Reels – with data from Socialinsider indicating that TikTok sees about double the post numbers as Instagram Reels and its engagement rate is around six times higher – Instagram could be dialing back its investment in short-form video.

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