by Aarifah Loonat
If you were to go on any social media platform, it's guaranteed you will see that younger people have been complaining about the new Instagram update. Influencers and YouTube personalities such as James Charles and Julie Nolke went online to express their distaste for the update. South African social media users also showcased their disapproval, the main reason being that Instagram is a social media app and not an online store. But, although the update can be a bit irritating to navigate, it has its positives as well.
The Instagram update basically moved the notification tab to the top right, next to the tab that opens direct messages. The notification tab has basically been replaced by a shopping tab that shows products from online stores that a user follows. It also shows products that fall in line with what Instagram’s algorithm identifies as a user’s main interests and preferences. The frustration comes with the positioning of the different tabs. People are used to opening the app and immediately tapping the bottom right to see their notifications. Old habits die hard, and most people are not used to navigating to the top right corner to find their notifications. Furthermore, many people feel that Instagram should have stayed an app for sharing pictures and videos.
In an article for the International Journal of Financial Research, the fourth industrial revolution is described as a world where the lines between digital reality and real-life are blurred, with the introduction of more connective technology. The founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, was the first to discuss the Fourth Industrial Revolution. According to the German professor, the revolution is expected to bring mobile supercomputing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, genetic editing, and more. Even though organisations have been preparing for the possibility of increased technological innovation, no one could have predicted the pandemic that hit 2020.
The South African economy took a large dip as we initially entered the nationwide lockdown. StatsSA shows a large incline in unemployment following the lockdown. That’s not to say that we can’t make a comeback. Small businesses are the backbone of the South African economy. They provide employment, they contribute 20% to the GDP, and according to Retail Capital (a financial services company), small businesses are the country’s lifeline. The Corona Virus accelerated the move towards the fourth industrial revolution. This may explain Instagram’s update, which essentially makes it easier for small businesses to operate. An online store means that small business owners spend less on business start-up. As opposed to spending rent on an actual store, an entrepreneur can operate on a digital store.
Furthermore, the cost of marketing your business on Instagram and other social media sites amount to less than having a physical store and costs less than printing actual advertisements. Having a digital store also means that a business can engage with customers outside of its immediate operating area.
The new Instagram update is an indication of the rapid rise of the fourth industrial revolution. Although it may seem confusing as to why an image and video sharing app became more business-oriented, the update is something entrepreneurs in South Africa should take advantage of. Digital platforms make the overall cost of running a business cheaper, and social media accounts provide free marketing for businesses. Instagram also has paid promotion options, which work out cheaper than printed advertisements and is better for the environment. Not only is it beneficial for small businesses, but small businesses are beneficial for our economy. In closing, this is a call to South African entrepreneurs. Take advantage of the opportunities that digitalisation and technology have to offer!