Instagram Is Losing Ground to TikTok as Users Shun ‘Reels’ Feature

A leaked report From Instagram states that most 'Reels' users get close to no engagement while TikTok continues its meteoric rise in popularity.
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Meta’s Instagram has longed for its Reels feature to size some of TikTok’s short-form video market share. But users and influencers at best don’t seem very interested or don’t care at all.

The once dominating social media platform appears to have lost its allure, in large part due to Instagram’s emphasis on saturating users’ main IG feed with more content from accounts they don’t follow.

The “inspiration” for that strategy is TikTok, a platform that has achieved considerable success by emphasizing content rather than creators. The app opens to a “For You” stream of clips that have been algorithmically chosen based on your viewing preferences.

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As usual, Instagram saw that as an opportunity and has since been attempting to negate users’ direct input (that is, the accounts you choose to follow) by showing you an increasing number of content the platform believes you’ll appreciate. This isn’t very pleasant, and Instagram isn’t quite as attractive as it once was.

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Instagram Is Losing Ground to TikTok as Users Shun 'Reels' Feature 4

And it seems many other users agree

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal claims that user engagement on Instagram is dropping, with Reels seeing a sizable decline of late.

Only 2.3 million posts were made monthly by the 11 million users designated as Instagram creators in the United States. Meanwhile, users of the short-form video-centric platform spend 197.8 million hours on the platform, which is ten times more than those viewing Reels on Meta’s apps. According to a leaked internal report, Reels engagement has decreased 13.6% in recent months, with most Reel users having no engagement whatsoever.’

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Meta’s claims have been lightly disputed, arguing that the usage data does not give the whole picture. But it refrained from adding any other circumstances – as is Meta’s custom when it cannot disprove such claims with its insight.

Who is to blame?

According to reports, Meta attributes a large portion of the blame to not many influencers and content creators using Reels. The report also revealed that a third of all Reels still had the watermark from the original websites they were made on, particularly TikTok.

Meta Headquarters Sign
Meta Headquarters Sign by Nokia621 under CC BY-SA 4.0

Reel creators have received $120 million in total from the platform so far. However, that sum may not include payments made to Facebook content providers, which is well below their projected total disbursements of $1 billion by the end of this year.

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According to a spokeswoman for Meta, the story presents an inaccurate picture by using out-of-date and, in some cases, incorrect data.

“This story presents an inaccurate representation of our progress on Reels by relying on obsolete and, in some cases, inaccurate statistics. Even though there is still work to be done, creators and businesses are already experiencing promising results, and Reels is now used by more people than ever before. As a result, our monetization growth is far above our expectations.”

Meta was contacted to know which data points the Journal’s report showed were inaccurate and to see if they had any more recent data to share. However, the speaker reiterated that the published “total hour viewership statistics” was “not global data, and is obsolete” despite their inability to provide any new information. The company’s representative depicted other data points as being unreliable or misleading, not reflecting growth trends, and being a momentary snapshot that was exaggerated.

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It seems nobody can knock the TikTok app’s dominance

Recent findings from Meta revealed that platforms like Facebook are frequently used for reposting links to content that was first obtained on TikTok.

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TikTok app by Solen Feyissa under CC BY-SA 2.0

Most of the most-viewed Facebook content consisted mainly of outdated meme videos that no one under a certain age finds particularly interesting. Facebook and Instagram are having trouble signing up content creators. Users frequently click on links that will redirect them from the platform into the arms of their most fiercely competitive rival apps.

Chief Operating Officer at Instagram Justin Osofsky said while they saw “strong potential in reels deployment,” there was still work to be done. Osofsky says, “More than half of the information in private communications is reels.”

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Meta jammed Reels into Facebook and Instagram: It’s not a welcome idea

Meta has crammed Reels into Instagram and Facebook for a while, and the rollout was not entirely smooth. Some users were disappointed about the platform change and attempted to mimic TikTok.

To allow users some control over what they see in their feeds again, Meta stated at the end of August that it would change how Reels were implemented. One viral campaign and its accompanying meme criticizing platform changes were posted millions of times, and celebrities like Kylie Jenner even reposted it. New updates from Meta were briefly put on hold while it looked into the root of the community’s irrational rage.

The president of Meta’s Instagram, Adam Mosseri, acknowledged in a video that the firm had jumped into video too far and too quickly but argued that “we still believe video is a significant long-term trend.”

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Effects of these challenges on Meta

Meta lost a sizable sum of money after companies like Apple modified their privacy policies to limit the capacity of their app to target users with adverts. Despite difficulties, according to analytics company Bernstein Research, meta platforms still perform exceptionally well with their advertisements. Instagram generated about $21 billion in revenue in 2021.

Due to TikTok’s rising popularity and Meta’s recent reported decline in revenue, the company understandably believes that acquiring a portion of the ByteDance-owned social media platform is the only viable course of action. And despite the criticism it has already received, Meta has decided to follow this course no matter what.

Short-form video is the way of the future, and if Instagram wants to survive and keep paying for Meta’s foray into “The Metaverse,” it doesn’t matter which app it copies.

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