Mr. Williams said that “a large global team supports our partners in a variety of industries” and is conducting similar activities on Instagram, but without disclosing how many people are on that team or how many similar meetings are held during any given length of time. Ms. Reichenbach was informed that she received the meeting because this team had noticed some of her successful roles. “Very popular” Instagrammers, Williams said, could have “close” relationships with corporate officials.
“This is no secret,” said Mr. Williams. “This is the same kind of thing we talk about in our open presentations” at influencer events like VidCon. The information in Ms. Reichenbach’s contribution had previously been divided into parts and understood for various target groups.
However, Mr Williams questioned some of the answers.
In particular, he rejected the idea that Instagram would punish users who didn’t bother with the latest feature. “There is no penalty for not using roles,” he said. “By and large, these are kind of Instagram best practices.” A representative later added, “Other content will not be demoted to serving content on roles.”
Like most social platforms, Instagram’s app has never been shy about its priorities. At the beginning, social platforms tend to be open about the essentials and coin new currencies with likes or shares, comments or reposts, followers or reach. As social platforms mature and become both crowded and more important in the lives of some users, it can become more difficult to sustain growth. The competition is greater. User settings change. The platforms themselves change at will, so long-time users are striving to regain a foothold.
Currently the roles are front and middle. And like the Snapchat-inspired stories, this new feature forces users into a battle that involves more Instagram than their own. (This time against TikTok.)
There’s also a touch of déjà vu in Instagram’s expanded reach. In the mid-2010s, Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, planned similar meetings with low-tier partners and offered advice on how to move forward at a time when success on the platform was viewed by many brands and publishers as valuable and necessary.