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Meta: Instagram users spend over 20% of their time watching Reels

Instagram Reels have continued to evolve over the years to stay on top of changing social media formats and trends.

instagram reels on iphone
Image: KnowTechie

Meta reports that Reels account for almost a quarter of users’ time on Instagram. The platform’s short-form video format compares to TikTok’s massively successful format.

Can Instagram hope to compete against TikTok, though?

Here’s a look at what Meta’s report means and how it fits into more prominent social media trends.

Reels come out on top for Meta

facebook reels on an iphone
Image: KnowTechie

As of Q1 2022, Reels have become one of the biggest draws for Instagram users. Meta announced in its 2022 first quarterly earnings call that Reels now account for over 20% of time spent on Instagram.

This is significant considering that Instagram is the 4th most popular social media platform globally, two places ahead of TikTok, its biggest competition.

Reels launched on Instagram in 2019 and have since expanded to include a few different video lengths, plus additional editing and social features.

instagram reels and videos tab
Image: Meta

Mark Zuckerberg announced in Meta’s Q1 2022 earnings call that Meta would be increasingly monetizing Instagram Reels moving forward. This means users can expect more ads worked into their Reels feeds.

Short-form video monetization is still in its early stages in 2022, but Instagram Stories signal is where it could be in a few years. Stories were Instagram’s move to compete with Snapchat a few years back.

Considering that Snapchat is no longer even in the top 10 most popular social media platforms, Instagram’s strategy seems to be working.

The role of creators

person recording himself with a camera on the beach
Image: Unsplash

Can Instagram take on TikTok, the world’s fastest-growing social media platform? TikTok has become a titan when it comes to views and reach.

However, creators don’t have it as easy on TikTok as on other platforms.

For example, YouTube has reported much higher monetization, and creator payouts than TikTok can offer its creators directly.

This is important because big creators can dramatically influence where audiences spend their time online.

Creators have become invaluable for marketers, as well.

Research shows people are more likely to want to share their positive experiences with a brand, which puts a lot of power in the hands of influencers.

If TikTok isn’t offering enough monetization incentives for creators to stick around, it’s possible some could transition over primarily to Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts.

A jump like this would boost both monetization and viewership on either platform. But, of course, Reels and Shorts need to have the viewership to convince creators to make the switch.

social media kt
Image: Pixabay

Over recent years, Instagram has notably replicated the features of other social media platforms, namely Snapchat and TikTok.

A similar strategy is often found among smaller phone manufacturers who copy design elements from Apple. Does this strategy work in social media, though?

Instagram has remained one of the world’s most popular social media platforms year after year, even as trends have changed.

Does Instagram’s dominance over Snapchat with the inclusion of Stories hint at the future of TikTok in the face of Instagram Reels?

tiktok logo in 3d
Image: Unsplash

As of 2022, it isn’t easy to imagine TikTok going the way of Vine, even if Instagram Reels are experiencing growth.

TikTok is arguably the fastest-growing social media platform in history. In 2021 alone, it gained 740 million new users and experienced 400% year-over-year growth in first-time installs.

TikTok is also only two spots behind Instagram in worldwide social media platform rankings. That’s shocking, considering TikTok launched in 2017 while Instagram has been around since 2010.

In addition to TikTok’s staggeringly fast growth, it’s also worth taking a look at the demographics of each platform. Research shows 67% of Gen-Z teens are on TikTok, while only 62% are on Instagram.

Threatening to both platforms, 95% of teens are on YouTube, which is going up against both TikTok and Instagram with its own Shorts feature.

Meta’s future in the face of TikTok

meta and facebook logo on grey background
Image: Unsplash

This data indicates some key takeaways from Meta’s report on Reels viewership. Young people — especially teens — are swiftly getting behind TikTok as their main social hub online.

With Instagram beginning to lag in popularity and Facebook dropping off the grid among Gen-Z, Meta is getting concerned about the future of its social media platforms.

Additionally, creators are finding other ways to make money from their TikTok content besides the meager earnings directly from the app.

For example, the top seven TikTok creators earn upwards of $4 million annually, most of which comes from revenue streams beyond TikTok’s limited Creator Fund.

tiktok crator fundd
Image: KnowTechie

TikTok may not have much money to offer creators directly, but it makes up for it with a massive audience and a fantastic algorithm.

For Meta to hope to compete with TikTok, Reels viewership needs to continue growing significantly.

The Reels recommendation algorithm on Instagram will also need to improve since the algorithm is one of the most-loved features of TikTok.

The Reels vs. TikTok battle continues

facebook reels product mockup on an iphone
Image: KnowTechie

Instagram has continued to evolve over the years to stay on top of changing social media formats and trends.

Meta’s report about Reels viewership is a promising start, but it pales compared to the growth TikTok has experienced since 2020.

As these two platforms compete with each other and YouTube Shorts, TikTok remains the platform to beat.

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Staff writer at ReHack Magazine with a passion for cybersecurity, AI, and all things tech. Offline, you'll find me cruising the neighborhood on my motorcycle or bingeing the latest true crime documentary.

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