In late 2021, Instagram rolled out testing of its brand-new feature “Collabs” in selected territories. It was received positively and has since become one of the most widely-used features, allowing users to co-author the same Instagram feed post or reels – opening a whole new way for accounts to reach new audiences.
Essentially, Instagram Collabs lets you invite someone to collaborate on a feed post or reel, so that both of you can share the content with your own followers. When you use Collabs to co-author content with a fellow user, the post or reel shows up on both of your profiles, meaning you can both share the views, likes, and comments.
Many Instagram influencers have spent years building up a following through close relationships with brands, and constantly updating their knowledge on video and editing skills as well as current cultural trends. A good content creator will stay true to their message, spark conversation, and promote products and insights that can genuinely enhance or better their followers’ lives.
Content creators can range from focusing on niche topics like wellness, plant-based foods, or DIY interiors to micro-influencers relating to the everyday family, parenthood, local finds, and reviews, all the way up to the mega celeb-style influencers with hundreds of thousands – sometimes millions – of followers by way of exceptionally unique comedic content (think the likes of the zeitgeist-ready @majimb.o and @munyachawawa), social advocacy, travelling the world, or even being on a popular reality TV show.
What doesn’t differ is the grind. Every content creator is ultimately looking for the widest reach and the highest, organic engagement. So, when it comes to Collabs, if it’s used strategically and honestly, it’s is a great way to leverage and engage with each other’s communities. However, the questions remains if the feature leans towards less original, repetitive content. Is Instagram Collabs making content creators lazy?
Here are six potential impacts of Instagram Collabs that could compromise the quality of influencer content that we see on the ‘gram:
01 Short-form content that feeds into short attention spans: Studies show that we spend roughly 4.5 hours on social media each day. Instagram knows this and has made sure that all it’s as multi-purpose as it can be with features like stories, IGTV, and reels – all feeding into fast, scroll-able content to keep users hooked. Will Collabs continue to enforce less thought-provoking, mindless content that may rack up the views but stifle on engagement, all under the guise of sharing the spotlight?
02 Who really benefits: Predictably, Instagram is turning more and more into an entertainment hub for all possible content, Undoubtedly, all these platforms want to keep you on their site, or app, for as long as possible. Keeping all types of content in one place is the best way of doing that. With some of the benefits that Instagram Collabs allows, are content creators likely to become one-trick ponies? Will some be tempted to fill up their feeds with Collabs as an easy way out of taking the time and making the effort to produce original messages and insights for their followers? We couldn’t blame them if they did – especially if it benefits their profile authority.
03 Twice the same content: How many times do followers want to see the same content on their feeds. Unless the co-authors are sharing especially great content that promotes a service, a message, a school of thought, or a product that their followers are seeking, the post or reel is just going to be another piece of duplicate content that could work against the plan to build their account and instead cause disinterest and followers to drop off.
04 Relevancy: Does the content actually work for both audiences, or is Collabs just a justified way of clout-chasing? Just because two content creators like to travel, should they Collabs on a post that promotes a luxury Maldives getaway? It might make the feed look pretty and create some wanderlust, but is it relevant for a following that is used to seeing backpacking trips and hostel stays? This is a tricky one – but if content creators remain selective in their Collabs’ choices, they can stay true to their own brand and message.
05 Quantity over Quality: There’s no limits on the number of Instagram Collabs an account can have. Essentially, every post or reel going forwards can be done through Collabs. In laments terms, if one content creator has spent time filming, editing, and effectively putting the post or reel together, is it fair that two accounts get to reap the benefits of shared likes, comments, and views? In other words, followers have no way of knowing which of the two accounts put it the real effort. Additionally, you might find that Collabs has some content creators so excited that they’re posting more than usual – and content that might not always align with their following.
06 Brand infiltration: For brands, the Collabs feature opens a new way to partner with influencers, gain social clout by association, and reach engaged communities. It also means that brands can target anyone and everyone instead of the right target market. Collabs reveals all content creators to all brands – another way to push services and products onto unwilling users.
It's important to note that paid partnerships will still need to be appropriately disclosed according to regulatory guidelines, even when using Collabs.
We anticipate that Collabs will inspire a rise in alliances within the creator community, especially for educational content that drives positive change. If used diligently and truthfully, the payoff could be worth it.
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