Instagram is a top-rated app, with more than 1 billion monthly active users. Within the app, individual users, influencers, brands, and businesses alike share high-quality photo and video content, interact in comments, and exchange direct messages.
However, as it is a visual-centered platform, some people across the globe have trouble using the app as they don't have the same access to cellular data and internet connection required to load many of the app's features.
As Instagram wants its platform to be accessible to all, they created a solution: Instagram Lite. Read on to discover what it is, the features it offers, and how it may affect global social media marketing.
What is Instagram Lite?
Instagram Lite is an Android app that is significantly smaller in size (2MB vs. 30-80MB+) than the original Instagram app, so users with differing cellular and internet connection can still benefit from what it has to offer without experiencing a lagging app or differing user experience.
The goal was to create a more accessible app for emerging markets. Tzach Hadar, Director of Product Management at Facebook Tel Aviv, says “Our teams build these lightweight versions of our apps for people with low connectivity or limited data plans because our basic premise is to leave no one behind.” As such, Instagram Lite still contains many of the valued features within the original app:
- Photo and video sharing
- Stories, stickers, and gifs
- Explore page and recommendation algorithms
- Messaging/DMs (groups supported)
- Reels and Reels tab
- Dark mode
As it is a less-heavy load on devices, features that require significant data or connection have been left out, such as:
- Animations when switching between Stories
- Story filters and AR filters
- Swipe-to-type controls
- Going Live
- Shopping and Product tabs
The app is able to save such significant space on devices by running off of code saved to the cloud rather than on the phone. Kelly Hendrickson, Social Media Marketing Manager at HubSpot, says “What excited me most about Instagram Lite is that it makes the platform more accessible. It requires less space on a phone as well as less data, making it easier to run. This is key in emerging markets.”
Where is Instagram Lite available?
Instagram Lite is currently available in 170 countries, with India being the largest country of access. Worldwide release is set to happen soon.
What is the Instagram Lite UX like?
The most significant difference between the Instagram Lite UX is the quality of content on the app, and a lack of graphics and animations that need data to load. While images aren’t grainy or pixelated, they may not be HD in order to ensure that users can load content without experiencing any lagging. A prime example is that when navigating between two different Stories, the animation that is present in the original app is missing.
Other than that, the Instagram Lite UX is not much different from the original Instagram app. For instance, users have the same profile tab (as shown in the image below) with their profile photo, follower and following count, an image feed, and a Reels tab for those who create them.
The home tab, where your Instagram Feed is displayed, is the same as well, with the stories carousel in the top portion of the screen, the heart icon showing likes and interactions, and the messaging arrow button.
If you want to share a post on Instagram Lite, the post button is in the navigation footer instead of above the Stories carousel.
Will Instagram Lite impact global social media marketing?
When Instagram Lite becomes available globally, it will require marketers to pivot from typical Instagram marketing strategies. As it currently doesn’t support ads, marketers will have to focus on engagement and building an audience rather than using shoppable tools to drive sales. Hendrickson says, “Part of pulling back features, though, is the removal of advertising. This reminds us how vital Instagram is for brand awareness. When someone can no longer purchase from within the platform, you have the opportunity to influence their decisions down the road by becoming a valuable account for them to follow.”
In addition, marketers will need to be mindful of the quality of photos and videos they upload, as the app is meant to save space and require minimal data usage. Instead, your Instagram Lite strategy may focus on high-quality copy and influencer partnerships in new countries as a means of attracting audience attention, driving engagement, and converting users to paying customers via links to website landing pages.
Marketers will also need to create content able to be understood by those in different markets and relevant to their interests.
Before Instagram Lite becomes available in your country, take the time to research emerging markets that already have access to the app, learn more about their interests and pain points, and begin creating a strategy that will help you show them the value you can provide.
Then, when the app becomes available, you’ll be ready to leverage the information you learned to begin posting on the app.