Instagram has slashed the amount it pays to short video makers as the meta-owned company adjusts its strategy to target so-called influencers while facing fierce competition from TikTok.
The invite-only program, available to some US Instagram users, pays a fee based on views of clips named “Reels.”
Instagram launched the program last year, partly in response to the popularity of TikTok, the short-form video app that’s meta boss Mark Zuckerberg blamed it for stealing attention from its social media apps including Facebook.
As part of the Reels system, influencers receive personalized payouts with specific goals for views, with money capped at a maximum fee per month.
Several YouTubers told the Financial Times that payments for Reels have dropped by as much as 70 percent per view in recent weeks, and the payout threshold is more than 10 times higher. One user who was able to get a maximum of $35,000 said his personal goal for views went from 58 million to 359 million.
No reason for the revised payouts was given to the influencers, and the move comes despite the company publicly stating that it is increasingly focusing on video.
“Video is currently driving immense online growth for all major platforms and I think we need to focus more on that,” said Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram. in June last year. “We’re not a photo-sharing app anymore.”
Ed East, chief executive of creative agency Billion Dollar Boy, which advertises brands on social media, said Instagram tended to pay more than TikTok.
“Creators have had mixed experiences with these programs, and there is uncertainty about potential revenue due to a lack of transparency and information regarding payout calculations,” he added.
The creators also said they’ve seen engagement — the number of views, likes, shares, and comments — on Reels drop on Instagram over the past month, with the algorithm favoring carousels, a series of still images in a post .
Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After TikTok was born fastest growing social media app In 2020, competing social media companies rushed to launch short-form clips and revenue-generating tools to lure and secure content creators, in a Battle for influencer talent.
Meta lost more than $220 billion from its market valuation in February after warning that users were spending more and more time on TikTok, the biggest one-day drop in a company’s market value on record.
In August last year, YouTube introduced a $100 million shorts fund that pays creators individual payouts ranging from $100 to $10,000 based on engagement with short-form videos.
Snap also paid more than $250 million to thousands of creators using Spotlight, its short-form offering, last year. It initially paid out more than $1 million a day to contributors on the platform, but has had to reduce payment amounts because it promotes too much “copycat” content, CEO Evan Spiegel said at a Goldman Sachs conference last September.
Some social media companies have also had to adopt technology to detect when videos have been edited using TikTok’s tools to prevent creators from posting the same content across multiple channels.
“The initial momentum behind Reels is gone,” said Binny Shah-Patel, a food and travel blogger who creates content on both Instagram and TikTok. “Creating a reel on Instagram can be fiddly and crashing, on TikTok you have better features and your audience is wider.”
Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy in San Francisco
https://www.ft.com/content/df2d753d-4346-49d8-88d7-441156dc8dc3 Instagram cuts influencer payments for short videos