Social Media Trends to Watch This Month

With more than half of adults in the U.S. receiving their news from social media at least some of the time, new changes to the Instagram platform are raising alarms for some of its users

Social Media Trends to Watch This Month
Katie Metz // Adriana Lacy Consulting
A version of this article first appeared in the Media Minds Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a week.

You've probably already heard about the controversy surrounding the possible banning of TikTok, but another recent social media concern has also been taking the rise. With more than half of adults in the U.S. receiving their news from social media at least some of the time, new changes to the Instagram platform are raising alarms for some of its users. Today we will cover what these changes are, what this could mean for publishers, and what else is new in the social media world.

Changes to the Instagram platform

On March 21, political content creator and contributor to Teen Vogue, Olayemi Olurin, posted a screenshot of a comment left on one of her Instagram posts. The comment left on her account pointed out something that she had found unsettling – Instagram had been limiting the reach of political content on the platform. The culprit? A new feature added to the platform under “content settings” with the default switch turned on to “limit political content from people you don’t follow.” The new Instagram policy specifically only affects accounts that the user does not already follow. However, while the policy says that it does not affect the accounts the user already follows, it can still impact content creators who publish that type of content.

Defining "political" content

The parameters of what the platform considers “political content” have only been defined vaguely so far. Content that could fall under this category includes any posts pertaining to laws, elections, and other social topics such as LGBTQ2S+ rights, COVID-19, and feminism. This change went into effect in early February. However, the attention to this new policy has been growing in recent weeks as concerns about the banning of TikTok grow.

What this means for publishers on the platform 

For publishers on the Instagram platform, recent changes raise concerns about the reach of political content. With new settings limiting the visibility of such content, publishers may face challenges in reaching broader audiences. As these changes garner more attention and shine a spotlight on social media regulation, publishers may have a harder time and have to come up with new strategies to keep up with evolving content policies.

Other social media news

Recent studies have shown that the number of daily users on the X (formerly Twitter) platform are plummeting, with X losing almost a quarter of the daily users on the platform that it had before Elon Musk took over. While other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok have shown some growth over that same period, X is losing millions of active daily users, particularly in the mobile app. X claims that the number of users on the platform is higher than what Sensor Tower data shows, but still noted a small decline.

What defines an “active” user

Ask X, and what the platform defines as an active user remains shrouded in mystery. Sensor Tower, meanwhile, defines an “active” user as someone who “registered a session of at least two seconds in length, once in that day.” They claim that the data is sourced from a group of consumers who willingly share their information in return for using various apps, including those that monitor screen usage.

Why users are leaving

Since Musk has taken over X, there have been many changes to the platform's rules for content. One of the most prominent controversies has been the changes in contention moderation limiting hateful content, as he welcomed some previously banned users such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. One other major change has been the shift from the platform’s business model which was almost fully supported by ads, to a different platform with four separate subscription-based tiers. Many speculate these controversies may be what is behind the declining user numbers.

The rise of Threads

After the release of “Threads” last July, many users have been taking advantage of the Twitter adjacent platform. Threads has a distinct advantage over other similar apps because of its strong connection with Instagram. Users can effortlessly see Threads posts in their Instagram feeds and set up accounts without any hassle. This integration has led to significant differences in downloads, according to recent research. In February, Threads outperformed X in global downloads by an 8-to-1 ratio, with even more impressive figures in the U.S., where Threads achieved around 16 downloads for every one download of X.

How this impacts social media publishers

As seen through recent updates on Instagram like limitations on political content, staying informed and flexible is becoming more important than ever before. With platforms like X facing user decreases and Threads rising in popularity, it is important to stay informed on all of these changes to find the most success for your content.

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