By Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO of TAKUMI.

Founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Kriege, Instagram has changed the world over the past ten years, transforming the social media space and creating hundreds of unforgettable cultural moments.

From the world_record_egg to the selfie, Instagram has offered a platform for millions of creatives and is showing no signs of slowing down, with the app passing a billion users in 2018 and still growing.

Diversification beyond photo-sharing

Since its purchase by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has expanded beyond image sharing, often in response to emerging trends and competitor apps. Instagram Stories launched in 2016 at a time when Snapchat was disrupting the social media space. And two years ago, IGTV was finally created, establishing a potential competitor to YouTube.

However, it was the add-on Instagram launched this year that offers the best indication of the app’s plans for the future. Instagram Reels, a long-awaited, exciting development for the app, gives users the chance to create short-form shareable videos and has been labelled a “clone” of TikTok.

Although its focus on short-form videos is similar to TikTok, it’s unlikely that Instagram Reels will supplant the Bytedance-owned app in the immediate future. TAKUMI’s whitepaper, The Realities of Influencer Marketing: TikTok and YouTube in Focusfound that only 11% of consumers think Instagram has the most creative content, lower than both TikTok (16%) and YouTube (41%). Therefore, the type of content expected and demanded by Instagram’s users on Reels will be different to the trendsetting, creative and spontaneous videos that dominates TikTok.

In the future, Instagram Reels may be able to compete on a similar level to TikTok, but it’s going to take time to build the sort of community that TikTok has. However, this doesn’t mean that the launch of Reels won’t offer any immediate benefits to Instagram and the consumers and brands that use it.

Instagram as a hub of social commerce

Shortly after its launch, Instagram confirmed that it would begin testing in-app shopping on Reels later this year. Once established, this would mean that shopping is available on almost all parts of the platform, including the main feed, Stories, live streams, and IGTV.

Instagram - and its parent company Facebook - has championed e-Commerce and in-app shopping over the past ten years, and is now undeniably a hub of social commerce, with the app generating $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019.

Marketers agree with this assessment. TAKUMI’s most recent whitepaper – which surveyed 3,500 marketers, consumers, and influencers across the UK, US and Germany – found that marketers consider Instagram (18%) as the second-best marketing channel for ROI on influencer campaigns. Slightly less than online advertising (21%), but higher than YouTube (18%), TV advertising (10%), and TikTok (6%).

Part of this faith in Instagram for delivering ROI is down to the wealth of options available for brands to drive conversions on the app. Alongside ads, in-app shopping functions integrated seamlessly into IGTV, live streams, Stories, and the main feed, mean consumers can view and purchase featured products at the click of a button. It’s unsurprising that a quarter (25%) of 16-24-year-olds believe Instagram is the most likely advertising channel to lead to a purchase, higher than YouTube (21%) and significantly more than TV advertising (12%).

With Reels set to be the latest in-app shopping option available to brands, it appears that Instagram will continue to be the number one app marketers look to when launching an influencer campaign.

Instagram has undeniably transformed social media, creating a whole new type of marketing and offering creatives around the world a vehicle to share their gift. In the next ten years, the app will continue to develop its industry-leading in-app shopping capabilities and look to cherry-pick the USPs of its competitors and integrate these within its platform. With the app now offering users short-form and long-form videos, images, and stories, it has in just ten years become a one-stop-shop for any social media user’s needs.