Social media platforms are turning into discovery platforms

Before TikTok, social media was about discovering content from people you follow.

After TikTok, social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube are turning into discovery platforms, where you'll be able to discover interesting cool content from anyone on the platform.

Let's explore the timeline on how all of this got started.


  • August 5, 2020 - For Instagram, it all started with them announcing Reels (its TikTok clone). This was the first feature where the social network was showing you content primarily from people you don't follow.

One year later, and things started to speed up. Now, Instagram is considering doing the same thing for their main feed:

  • June 25, 2021 - Instagram is testing putting suggested posts ahead of your friends'. Algorithms > people you follow.
  • June 30, 2021 - The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, confirmed this. You will see more "recommended" content in your feed from people you don't follow.

**What's likely to follow: ** Stories? Will you see "Suggested stories" from people you don't follow as well? Time will tell.


A few minor updates in the meanwhile. And in the same fashion as Instagram, one year later:

  • July 8, 2021 - YouTube announces a "New For You" tab (which name kinda reminds me of YouTube's "For you" tab). YouTube now wants to show you more random stuff, just like TikTok.

Why is this good news for indie hackers

Bigger organic reach. Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have been very stringy about giving new creators exposure. So many people went on TikTok and got millions of views as a result. Now, these platforms seem to be reversing course and trying to give new creators more exposure in an effort to correct their past mistakes.

I've already been seeing anecdotal evidence of how people are getting hundreds of thousands of views on their YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels. If things continue this way, we'll start hearing stories about the same for regular YouTube videos and Instagram posts.

2021 is an amazing year to be a creator.

  1. 1

    All of these changes are going to be great for discovery. I love how YouTube and IG are all veering away from their original identity of community and connection.

  2. 1

    Seems like the impact of who I follow (ie, my choice) is diminishing, and the impact of the platform's AI deciding what to show me is increasing.

    Is this "discovery", or force-feeding? I'm feeling a little fois gras...

    1. 0

      You can check out https://igloosocial.com for the "traditional" social media experience

  3. 1

    Interesting. Do you think some platforms are better suited to this type of discovery than others? For example, Twitter ends up being this sort-of echo chamber where you manually cut out the noise of people you're not interested in hearing from.

    TikTok and IG do this too but it's more via the algorithms that track you're engagement (rather than your manual curation)... so do you think the content discovery shift will also happen / is happening on platforms like Twitter?

  4. 1

    Do you think other platforms will follow?

  5. 1

    It was about time Instagram realized the main advantage TikTok has is discovery..

    1. 1

      So much so that FB/IG are now 'all about creators'.

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