Meta Says Users Spent 24% More Time on Instagram Because of Reels


Meta says users are spending over 24% more time on Instagram because of its TikTok-clone, Reels.

On its Q1 2023 quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Meta CFO Susan Li shared that time users spent on Instagram had increased more than 24% since the company launched its short-form video product Reels.

According to the company, this higher engagement on Instagram is due to its investment in AI-powered Reels recommendations, which pushes new content to users in a similar way as TikTok.

“Reels also continue to become more social with people resharing Reels more than two billion times every day, doubling over the last six months,” Zuckerberg says on a transcript of the earnings call.

“Our investment in recommendations and ranking systems has driven a lot of the results that we’re seeing today across our discovery engine, Reels, and ads. Along with surfacing content from friends and family, now more than 20% of content in your Facebook and Instagram feeds are recommended by AI from people, groups, or accounts that you don’t follow. Across all of Instagram, that’s about 40% of the content that you see.”

Reels are Not Translating into Revenue

However, TechCrunch reports that while Reels may be increasing engagement on Instagram, that is not yet directly translating to a growth in revenue.

In fact, Li admits that Reels are destroying some of the revenue that Instagram would traditionally make from photos and Stories as short-form videos now account for some of the time users would have usually spent engaging with that content previously.

However, as overall user time is growing on Instagram because of Reels, Li says that the short-form video product will eventually boost the company’s revenue potential. That said, Li acknowledged that Meta will need to work out how to effectively monetize Reels because of “structural differences” to traditional photo posts and Stories.

While Meta did not reveal the daily active users on Reels on the earning call, the company says that monthly active users on its family of apps rose by about 5% year-on-year to over 3.8 billion.

Reels Cannibalized Photography

The statements made on the earning call yesterday give further insight into how Instagram Reels have tanked the visibility of photos on Instagram. Last year, data revealed that the average engagement for traditional Instagram feed posts, such as photos, had decreased by 44% since the app’s introduction of Reels.

Photographers have been left scrambling to find ways to get the Meta-owned platform to push their photos in the algorithm again. While other photographers searched for Instagram alternatives.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.