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The Paradox of Choice and Instagram Reels || Digital Marketing Weekly ||


Instagram marketing

Yes, you read that right. It may seem impossible, given that you were probably scrolling through your Instagram reels feed before reading this article and will go back to it after, but Instagram reels are seeing a decline in their popularity and engagement.  

This was discussed and debated heavily all through the last quarter of 2022, after a video from Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram in which he discussed new features and changes that they would be implementing to the app, and its pivot to videos. 

It was conclusively declared that Instagram was chasing the success of the more popular TikTok, by trying to emulate its best features. 

According to a report published in September 2022 by the Wall Street Journal, based on internal documents shared by Meta, it was seen that IG users have spent 17.6 million hours watching reel content. In comparison to the 198.7 million hours that consumers spent on TikTok, reels were not even close to catching up. 

The document (titled Creators x Reels State of the Union 2022) which was published internally at Meta in August 2022, shows that not only is reel engagement far from what is seen on TikTok, but it is also steadily continuing to fall, down by 13.6% from the previous month. 

While Meta has disputed the number, it is no secret that they are struggling to keep up with Tik Tok. 

Why is this happening, when Instagram is still a highly-used social platform with global reach and engagement, both personal and professional? 


We have seen many original content creators burgeon on Instagram. The app was forced to pump in large funds into creating original content for reels, because nearly one-third of videos that were appearing on the app were made somewhere else (most likely TikTok), and recycled to IG. The lack of original content made people quickly lose interest. It is yet to be seen if the many original content creators employed by the app have managed to turn this around, although early reports are not positive on that front. 

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In July of last year, a viral post on Instagram that begged the platform to stop copying TikTok and bring back importance to photographs and personal storytelling, was shared by Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian. This forced the platform to respond and roll back some of its changes. 

People want their favorite nostalgic apps to stand for what they once stood for, and amidst all its plans and changes, Instagram seems to have forgotten what it started out as -- a platform for pictures. 

There has been growing discontent from loyal and longtime users of the app, especially photographers, who have expressed frustration at being unseen and unheard by the app, thanks to their hard and unyielding pivot to reels. Lesser engagement with feeds, conversion of videos into reels, not being able to see posts of people they follow, and suggested posts being unrelated -- have all caused people to roll their eyes and switch loyalties. While Instagram continues to pump its best efforts and resources into the TikTok-ification of its app, they deny its consumers the gift of variety. When the choices available become so similar, consumers will neglect the app that apes and stick to the originals. While the audience has been clamoring for IG to go back to its OG roots, it will be interesting to see if their voices will be heard. For now, all we can do is wait and watch as the content unfolds. 


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