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KOL marketers take note: Reels growing strongly on Instagram, Facebook

Influence marketers and KOLs activating Reels content on Instagram can take heart: plays and engagement with Reels on Meta platforms are growing strongly, the company says. Releasing third quarter results last week, Meta said Reels plays on Instagram and Facebook grew 50% over six months to reach more than 140 billion daily plays. On Instagram alone, users now share Reels 1 billion times a day in direct messages. Meta has invested heavily in building out AI discovery engines to power Reels and recommend content in feeds on Instagram and Facebook. But development has been choppy, with changes introduced on Instagram earlier this year infuriating users and KOLs continuing to complain about reduced reach several months later.

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Key Takeaways

  • Reels plays and engagement, and user numbers are growing on Instagram Facebook, cementing their positions as key platforms for KOL marketers.
  • Diversity of content formats and opportunities for social interaction on Instagram and Facebook are key differentiators from TikTok.
  • Social interaction and content sharing increasingly takes place in messages. Brands should investigate combining click-to-message ad tools with KOL content.

Engagement rising

Meta emphasized an overall uptick in engagement, Reels usage and user numbers across its family of apps during the quarter. The company said it would continue to invest heavily in building out its AI discovery engines for Facebook and Instagram, the metaverse, and ads and business messaging platforms.

Our AI discovery engine is playing an increasingly important role across our products, especially as advances enable us to recommend more interesting content from across our networks in feeds that used to be primarily driven just by the people and accounts you follow,” Zuckerberg said.

Reels is incremental to time spent on our apps. The trends look good here, and we believe that we’re gaining time spent share on competitors like TikTok.”

Facebook daily active users rose 3% year-on-year to 1.98bn, while users across the company’s family of apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp — rose 4% to 2.93bn.

Chasing TikTok

Rising engagement on Instagram is good news for KOL marketers as it indicates that the platform continues to be relevant despite both the meteoric rise of TikTok, and the missteps it has made in its attempt to compete.

Meta is convinced the changes to the Instagram and Facebook algorithms to support Reels and deliver more recommended content to feeds will bear fruit in the long term, with the diversity of content types — like photos, text, links, communities, etc. — providing a key differentiator.  

There’s this whole larger corpus that we can use AI to effectively understand what the content means and understand individually what you might be interested in, just have access to a much bigger corpus of content to put into your feeds and increase engagement,” Zuckerberg said.

And we’re seeing that start to work already and be incremental in terms of having more people use the services, having them spend more time […and] just engage more in feeds overall. So that part of things we think is going well.

Why it matters

If Meta is right and engagement on its platforms is indeed rising, influence marketers wrestling with the question of whether to divert activities from Instagram to TikTok can take heart.

Meta’s platforms are far from irrelevant — despite the company’s obvious problems — and if the transition to Reels and recommended content comes off in the way it hopes, there will be plenty of opportunities to reach customers with influencer content across a variety of formats.

While TikTok is undoubtedly in the ascendance — and can generate huge reach and awareness when influence campaigns are done right — quality influencer content and campaigns on the platform are increasingly expensive. It is also harder to predict the success of a video on TikTok, or to obtain the level of campaign performance data as it is on Instagram.

The variety of content formats on Instagram, combined with its entrenched social elements and suite of advertising and commerce tools, continues to offer marketers numerous opportunities at various price points to reach consumers.

Messaging, the new frontier?

For some time, Meta has been communicating around the shift in content sharing from feeds to private messages, whether in Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

In Wednesday’s call, Meta said its Click-to Messaging ads product, which lets businesses run ads on Facebook and Instagram that start a thread on Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram Direct, had so far achieved $9 billion ARR.

For Meta, a key question it must resolve is this: if content is increasingly being shared in messages, what is the purpose of Instagram or Facebook feed? Speaking at a creator roundtable session hosted by French independent media Brut in October, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri stressed that the company needed to adapt to changing user behavior and interests.

Recommendations allows us to drive more reach to creators. What you’re going to see [on Instagram] in the next year is some 9:16 videos in feed, certainly us getting better at recommendations, particularly for the benefit of creators, while trying to preserve photos,” Mosseri said.

Although things have changed a lot on Instagram in the last year or two, next year they will start to simplify, because we’ve learned a lot.”

Clearly Instagram (and indeed Facebook) still has plenty of cards to play. 2023 is set to be something of a make-or-break year for the platform.    

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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