By Andrew Hutchinson Content and Social Media Manager
Have you found yourself using Instagram way less of late? The once trendsetting social platform seems to have lost its luster, in large part due to Instagram’s insistence on pumping more content from accounts that you don’t follow into your main IG feed. The ‘inspiration’ for that approach is TikTok, which has seen great success by focusing on content, as opposed to creators, with the app opening to a ‘For You’ feed of algorithmically-selected clips, based on your viewing habits. Instagram, as usual, saw that as an opportunity, and it’s since been working to negate your direct input – i.e. the accounts that you’ve chosen to follow – by showing you more and more stuff that it thinks you’ll like. Which is annoying, and personally, I don’t find Instagram anywhere near as engaging as it once was.
And it seems many other users agree – according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Instagram engagement is declining, with Reels, in particular, seeing a significant drop-off in user engagement of late. As reported by WSJ, TikTok users are spending over 10x as many hours consuming content in that app as Instagram users currently spend viewing Reels. According to a leaked internal report, Reels engagement is also in decline, dropping 13.6% in recent months – while ‘most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever.’ Meta has lightly refuted the claims, by stating that the usage data doesn’t provide the full picture. Though it declined to add any more context – which is Meta’s usual process when it can’t dispel such with its own insight. Take, for example, total time spent in its apps. Back in 2016, as part of its regular performance reporting, Meta noted that people were spending more than 50 minutes per day, on average, using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.
It hasn’t reported any official stats on this ever since, which many believe is because that number has been in steady decline, and Meta sees no value in reporting that it’s losing ground, and has been for years now. Meta, instead, is keen to talk about daily and monthly active users, where its figures are solid. But this almost feels like misdirection – Facebook and Instagram, in particular, have traditionally been based on building your social graph, and establishing a digital connection with the people that you know and want to stay connected with, and informed about.