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Like it or not, video produces a higher engagement rate on Instagram.

Instagram may have been forced to reconsider its attempts to introduce more videos and recommended content into its feed, but parent company Meta remains committed to continuing with changes to the platform over the long term.

iPhone held horizontally at sunset
iPhone held horizontally at sunset

During a lecturing with analysts to discuss the company's second-quarter results — which saw Meta record its first-ever revenue drop — Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, said that Reels' strong growth was driving theInstagram engagement and Facebook, with a 30% increase in the time people spent watching Reels content on platforms in the last quarter.

“Last quarter, I announced that The Reels already accounted for 20% of the time people spend on Instagram. This quarter, we saw a more than 30% increase in the time people spend engaging with Reels on Facebook and instagram“Zuckerberg said.

“Advances in AI are driving much of these improvements, and one example is that after launching a new AI model for recommendations, we saw a 15% increase in viewing time in the Reels video player on Facebook alone.”

The past two months have seen Meta introduce radical changes to the feeds on its two flagship social media platforms. Notably, Instagram was testing a 9:16 full-screen format for videos and photos, and had begun pushing recommended content into user feeds.

But given the strong reaction of users against these changes, Instagram announced on Friday that it had deactivated the full-screen test and that it would reduce the recommended percentage of content, for the time being.

On Facebook, Meta introduced separate Feed and Home tabs to delineate tracked content — friends, pages, and groups — and recommended content. When users open Facebook, the content recommended on the Home tab will appear first.

The reels: the future of Instagram

With the number of people active daily on Meta apps increasing by 4% to 2.88 billion last year, the marketing specialists, whether they like it or not, must adapt to the changes that are coming on Instagram and Facebook.

Zuckerberg's latest intervention makes it clear that brands and KOLs should focus on creating quality Reels to increase engagement and reach across both platforms in the future. He said that Reels represent half of the content that people share again in messages.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, explains that the platform is trying to “find the right balance” between the video and photo experience on Instagram.

“For those who just don't like the video [on Instagram] right now, this [problem is] more difficult because the video is developing with or without us. When we don't change anything about the flow, it develops. Before we make recommendations, it is developing,” Mosseri said in an article published on Friday.

“What's happening is that people who share with their friends go from feed to stories, and even more so from feed to DM, and that's where friends connect on Instagram. It raises The question of what should the flow be. And our hope is that it's a place where you discover new and amazing things from creators, but also where you talk about these things with your friends, usually in DMs.”

Real advertising, a guarantee of success

With many marketers and KOLs lacking experience creating video content (and the need for Meta to effectively monetize Reels), Meta's key message is to push through barriers and trust its ability to make new features a success.

instagram Announced that all new video posts will be shared as reels, and has introduced a series of new ways to create and collaborate on reels, including improved remix features, templates, and duals.

Meta also introduced music revenue sharing on Facebook videos, which she says will allow creators to receive a 20% share of revenue on videos that use licensed songs and music.

The company says it's working to make real ads easier to create, and early data from businesses that already use real ads shows that they're generating new subscribers, a reduction in subscriber acquisition costs and a double-digit increase in ROAS.

“[Real advertising] is growing rapidly, and we see this as an area where there is significant growth potential,” Sheryl Sandberg said, COO of Meta. “It's going to take some time, but we have a playbook based on our experience with Stories. Our current focus is on speeding up ad loading, improving performance, and ensuring ads are easier for advertisers to create.”

“We're also using AI to better understand content posted in reels, so users can connect to the content that's most relevant to them, and marketers can show more relevant ads.”

Recommended content benefits small KOLs

Meta is transforming its platforms into what the company calls “discovery engines” that can spontaneously identify and show users relevant content. Mark Zuckerberg said that the recommended content level in a person's Facebook and Instagram feed — currently some 15% on Facebook and more on Instagram — would more than double by the end of 2023.

To date, deploying recommended content on Meta platforms has been problematic, with brands, agencies, and KOLs complaining of significant declines in reach and engagement. Users, on the other hand, threatened to close their Instagram accounts because they no longer saw the content of their friends and favorite accounts.

Instagram says it plans toIncrease the amount of recommended content in the feed once it's safe that users will enjoy the new content they see. According to Mosseri, recommended content is the best way to help small creators reach new audiences and grow their followers.

“It's in Instagram's business interest to grow the reach of every creator as much as we can. That is our aim. But we're going to prioritize smaller creators over bigger creators when the situation gets worse,” Mosseri said.

Key points to remember

Despite this setback, Instagram — and Meta more generally — will continue to incorporate recommended content and video into its platforms over time. Meta insists that this change will improve the platform's performance and benefit users and micro-influencers over the long term.

Meta's efforts are aimed at encourage more new creators on its platforms by facilitating the creation of entertaining video content directly in its applications, and by allowing brands and creators to achieve greater reach and engagement than currently.

For farsighted marketers, opportunities abound in collaborations with KOLs that focus on video content in vertical format. If you haven't already done so, now is the time to start the process of testing and learning about reels and finding out how they can be used to benefit your brand. (And remember: it's possible to maximize the value of collaborations with KOLs by editing raw video content in several different ways to adapt it to different platforms or positions.)

Meta also insists that if video content is the future, other formats like photos and messages will continue to be important. Responding to criticism that Meta is turning its flagship platforms into TikTok clones, Zuckerberg said that the discovery engines under construction will encompass various types of content — such as text, links, photos, or group discussions — not just short videos.

“I don't think people are going to want to be forced into one format. And I certainly think that people are always going to continue to care about what's going on with friends, family, and people that they know well,” Zuckerberg said. “So all of this is going to be a kind of growth that makesthere is more interesting content available. Basically, it allows people to engage with the service better than other things.”

Hope you're right, Zuck. The ball is definitely in your court.

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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