Instagram’s attempts to replicate the success of TikTok via Reels are… not going well, according to leaked internal documents. Simply no one is shocked by this news, I am sure.
All this technolo-tea comes from The Wall Street Journal which reported that it’d seen an internal Meta document from August this year about Reels.
As we all know, Insta’s been trying to get on the TikTok bandwagon for a couple of years now. Reels were launched on Insta in 2020 and Facebook in 2021. It’s had mixed results, as have a lot of Insta’s attempted recent changes.
You know you’re not slaying when Kylie Jenner publicly calls you out.
According to The Wall Street Journal, while Insta users spent 17.6 million hours watching Reels every day, TikTok users spent a whopping 197.8 million hours on the app. And that’s literally just me doing my after work scroll!
Plus, while there are 11 million “creators” on Insta in the US only 20.7 per cent actually post on it every month. The document also said “most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever”. Yikes.
A Meta spokeswoman told the publication that this data wasn’t “global in scope” and that it was “outdated”.
I obviously can’t speak to every Insta user on the planet, but I know personally that I only look at Reels by A) accident thanks to my clumsy thumbs, B) because my housemate who refuses to download TikTok has sent me a cooking video or C) because a creator or publication has popped a TikTok up as a Reel.re
Instagram’s Chief Operating Officer Justin Osofsky said half of the content people DM to one another on Insta are Reels. Meta also said around a fifth of the time people spend on Insta is on Reels.
While things like aesthetic cooking videos do genuinely spring to mind when I think about Insta Reels, according to the internal documents seen by The WSJ, almost a third of Reels vids were made on different social media apps.
It also reported that while TikTok has had massive gains in terms of hours spent on the app by users every day — 67 per cent per US user from 2018 to 2021 — that same success hasn’t been replicated by Meta. Over the same four year time span, Insta had an average annual gain of nine per cent and Facebook of 11 per cent.
To be honest, as someone who uses all three of those apps (yes, even Facebook) this doesn’t really surprise me. I don’t really go to Instagram to seek out new, original content: I go on it to see what my friends and enemies are up to, suss if there are any good jewellery sales on and maybe check the news.
I never think to look at Reels partly because to me, they fill a niche already filled by TikTok. I’ve spent many an hour on TikTok perfectly curating my for you page — so why would I check Reels?
Content creator Danny Freeman (AKA @DannyLovesPasta) told The Wall Street Journal that some of his video content, especially the more aesthetic recipe stuff, actually did better on Instagram Reels than on TikTok. I’m no tech expert but I hope Instagram Reels just leans into a full rebrand as “delicious pasta videos”.
As you might expect, Meta was pretty salty about the whole thing. When Gizmodo reached out about the data, a spokesperson said “this story uses outdated and, in some cases, incorrect data to pain a false picture of our progress on Reels”.
“We still have work to do, but creators and businesses are seeing promising results and out monetisation growth is faster than we expected as more people are watching, creating and connecting through Reels than ever before.”
From that, it seems Insta won’t be getting rid of Reels anytime soon. Prepare to keep accidentally clicking over to them when you’re trying to get to the Explore page for the foreseeable future.