Instagram Reels Tanked the Viability of Standard Posts: Report


New data has revealed that the average engagement for traditional Instagram feed posts, such as photos, has decreased by 44% since 2019 — and this decline can be directly traced back to the app’s introduction of Reels.

In a study published last month, social media marketing platform Later analyzed 81 million Instagram posts — excluding Reels and IGTV content — between January 2019 and February 2022.

The company found that in 2019, the average engagement rate for in-feed posts was about 5.6%. But by the end of 2021, that rate decreased to an average of about 2.9%. Traditional video feed posts saw the greatest decline year-over-year on average, while carousel posts, otherwise known as photo dumps, consistently performed the best in terms of engagement for in-feed posts.

According to Later’s study, the decline in the performance of traditional Instagram feed posts can be primarily traced back to the introduction of Instagram Reels in August 2020.

Instagram launched Reels to compete with rival TikTok. Since its introduction, Instagram has made no secret of the fact that Reels are a priority for the app, and as such, other post types have taken a back seat.

Over the last two years, the platform has redesigned its interface to prioritize Reels and even incentivized creators to post Reels. This push towards Reels led to the plummet in engagement for traditional posts.

Instagram’s heavy-handed approach to Reels means that for many creators, there is huge pressure to pivot to short-form video content to maintain engagement rates. According to the study, Later’s average engagement rate on Instagram was about 2% in 2020. The company incorporated Reels into its social media strategy that year and today, with Reels, Later’s engagement rate is around 9%.

Engagement rates are typically calculated on Instagram by taking the total number of likes and comments on a post and then dividing that number by a creator’s follower count, reports Business Insider. Engagement rates help influencers and brands set pay rates for brand deals, showcasing just how many followers a creator’s content reaches.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.