Meta Platforms Inc. META -7.66%▼ Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg is betting the social-media giant’s near-term future on Instagram Reels, the short-video feature he is touting as the company’s answer to TikTok.
The company’s internal research shows that Meta has a lot of catching up to do.
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.”
One reason is that Instagram has struggled to recruit people to make content. Roughly 11 million creators are on the platform in the U.S., but only about 2.3 million of them, or 20.7%, post on that platform each month, the document said.
Meta spokeswoman Devi Narasimhan characterized the data about viewing hours as outdated and not global in scope, but declined to disclose other numbers. She said Reels engagement currently is up, on a month-to-month basis.
“We still have work to do,” she said. “But creators and businesses are seeing promising results, and our monetization growth is faster than we expected as more people are watching, creating and connecting through Reels than ever before.”
The shift to Reels has taken on urgency following a tough year for the social-media company. In July, Meta reported its first ever decline in revenue, in part because changes made by Apple Inc. to the iPhone’s operating system put a major dent in Meta’s ability to deliver personalized ads. The company also has had trouble retaining teenage users attracted to competitors such as TikTok. As of Friday, Meta’s market value had declined by more than $620 billion since peaking more than a year ago.
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