Instagram Users Are Avoiding Reels

Salvador Rodriguez, Meghan Bobrowsky, and Jeff Horwitz, Wall Street Journal:

Instagram users cumulatively are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels, less than one-tenth of the 197.8 million hours TikTok users spend each day on that platform, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that summarizes internal Meta research.

The document, titled “Creators x Reels State of the Union 2022,” was published internally in August. It said that Reels engagement had been falling — down 13.6% over the previous four weeks — and that “most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever.”

This is particularly impressive as Reels are being pushed into all parts of Instagram, making them almost impossible to ignore. Brutal.

Meta is a scatter-brained company. Its few near-term ideas are alienating users, and the long-term prospects of its virtual reality projects are not compelling. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Instagram simply looks like it is frantically chasing TikTok’s clout, and its parent company actually has really great plans for a virtual world which even the most Facebook averse person will want to explore. Maybe what looks like its blunder years will actually prove to be a decade of growth and reinvention.

Or maybe all of this is just as it seems: Meta’s best products are the things it can easily duplicate or acquire, and the well is dry.