Instagram Goes Beyond The Feed With Everyday Spotlight Compilations
But Spotlight Compilations were so popular that starting this week, Instagram’s community team began spontaneously coming up with themes. They comb through the top relevant clips, and show them off in its “immersive video player” each day so there’s always at least one to watch.
The strategy behind Spotlight Compilations goes beyond just keeping people engaged and coming back to Instagram. Gabe Madway, Instagram’s communications manager, tells me Spotlight is “where you go to discover things you don’t follow but might end up following. Things you never expected to see.”
That’s critical for an app in danger of going stale after a half decade of sunsets and food porn. It’s easy to get complacent with following your friends and a few accounts matching your interests. That’s why Instagram has released new standalone app tools for making fresh content types like Boomerang GIFs, Layout collages, and Hyperlapse timelapses. And that’s why Spotlight Compilations heavily promote the creators behind the videos.
“Every piece of content there has attribution” says Madway. “That is something we hope will spread the word about the talented people who use the platform.”
Video was slow to take off on Instagram. It still feels a bit bolted on since so many people scroll their feed while in public with their phones muted. It’s not worth it to find some place private or put headphones in to catch the sound from the occasional video.
Yet since the Spotlight Compilations are video only, they establish a more long-session video experience worth turning up the volume for. Naturally, this curated, filtered channel creates a big opportunity to slide in sponsored content ads. But Madway says putting ads on the Explore tab has “not been on the table.”
Instead, Spotlight Compilations could teach users to watch videos. That’s important for Instagram’s bottom line because video ads command high prices since they’re much more impactful than photos.
Meanwhile, Instagram is encroaching on Twitter’s turf by making a newsy yet inviting consumption mechanism like Moments. “We might do a compilation around an event like Coachella, or a collection of amazing portrait artists or architects…action sports, NBA players…We try to be topical…to make them jive with what’s happening.” You don’t even need to know who to follow.
Much like its parent company Facebook with its non-stop suggested video reels, Instagram wants to develop a lean-back watching experience. Apparently we’re too lazy to even scroll any more. Just let your eyes glaze over, and Spotlight will auto-advance you through the pretty moving pictures.