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This article by GC Member Mary Charleson is a follow up to her provocative post in Oct 2022, where she suggested that Facebook and Instagram were no longer social media platforms, and TikTok never was.

It was a headline that grabbed attention to be sure, but there was a lot of truth to it, once we went deeper to understand what is actually going on strategically at these companies.

In summary, the post takes you through the history of social media being invented to connect friends and family, then addresses changes made as the platforms grew, with news, ads, and sponsored content in response to the pressure to generate quarterly returns for shareholders.

And finally it explains how the shift is now pushing towards more discovery content, where the creative matters much more than your follower count, since the algorithm increasingly will be delivering content to people you don’t know, but might be interested in the topic you are covering.

The change is being largely driven by the success of the TikTok content model, and the race to compete.

The post discussed why the shift matters, and most importantly what you as a business owner should do about it – especially if Instagram or Facebook are a major part of your strategy.

That’s the “Coles Notes” as they used to say, for the full version, be sure to link to the post if you missed it!

Numerous people replied back about the post, and the most frequent questions was, “Do you have any examples of companies who have adjusted their content strategy well to this discovery content shift?”

Yes, I do! And that is the content I’m bringing to you below.

An Instagram example
I’m going to single out Instagram for my example to illustrate, and use Lululemon – a global athletic brand that started out as just yoga wear with a single location in my home town, Vancouver, BC.

(As a side note, I could tell you a funny story about meeting Chip Wilson in his start up days, when I was the sales manager and the Georgia Straight, and had been dispatched to collect on an account receivable. I had to hold back the giggles as he sat shirtless in shorts and flip flops behind a big desk, with a fan blowing from behind on a hot day, fluttering his armpit hair!)

But I digress… and yes he did pay, with cash from the till of his snowboard shop at the time…

Let’s look at posts, reels and stories specifically, and evaluated content and strategy that has been adjusted to favor discovery-based content.

If you scroll way back in their posts you will find single images, but anything recent is vertical video that plays once you press on it.

There’s the odd carousel post, but most look more like reels as still images, and in many cases, they ARE actually reels when you click on them or go over to compare.

They have fully embraced vertical content (and shot the video to ensure it frames properly in a square), as it becomes evident that that is the direction IG is shifting towards.

While posts are shown to their followers (4.3 million peeps), they are displaying content that looks and feels like TikTok – certainly much more that they did even just 6 months ago, if you scroll back for a look.

When you press on their reels tab, you will see tons of vertical content, all active people, lots of color, and most looking like TikTok videos (minus the watermark, so they are obviously using an editing program).

Although the company gets a ton of interaction on their posts, the view counts on reels is dramatically higher – and that is because reels are being shown in discovery content, beyond the audience that already follows the brand.

Lululemon is obviously maximizing their exposure to new audiences this way, since that is what discovery content is meant to do. Right now by default posts show first when you land on an Instagram page.

But don’t be surprised if Reels becomes the default at some point in the future. It seems to me that Lululemon has already figured that out, and is preparing for it.

Lululemon actively pushes out stories to their followers, but they are very strategic with the stories they create to then save to their timeline along the top.

They’ve recognized that stories are that informal, fun content that gives the behind the scenes and engagement with their followers, but those background stories can also serve as overall brand positioning when saved to the profile.

For sure there’s other stuff going on in their content too – with brand influencers, community ambassadors, product tagging to purchase, lead magnets and data capture.

Lululemon is quite sophisticated in their content strategy.

But the biggest take away is observing what will soon become best practice with positioning to favor discovery content.

Not everyone is thrilled with the shift away from community based social media, where you follow, connect and interact with those that you know.

In fact some would argue that Instagram will have to choose between community and discovery. I would argue they already have.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts! And if you just want to muse about my Chip Wilson story of what’s in your cup this morning, that’s fine too : )


Mary Charleson, is a marketing speaker, educator and strategist. She is the author of blog and weekly newsletter, featuring marketing tips, served up like a personable chat with a caring friend over coffee. She has authored two books: Word of Mouth Mouse & Mobile and Five-Minute Marketing. Mary is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), a designation through NSA (National Speakers Association) held be fewer than 12% of speakers globally. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers and the Global Speakers Federation. Subscribe to Mary’s Weekly Five-Minute Marketing Tips.




Meet Mary at the Grand Connection Speaker Event on Nov 17, 2022 for her talk – Key Marketing Trends and Their Impact on YOUR Business for 2023