If you don’t like all those recommended posts from people and profiles you don’t follow littering your Instagram feed, then you probably don’t like what Meta had to say about them in today’s earnings announcement.
Meta today posted a pessimistic earnings result, with lower-than-expected usage and revenue, and on the subsequent earnings call, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined his key areas of focus moving forward as the company looks to navigate a period of economic uncertainty.
One of the key areas of focus, of course, is Reels, which is the company’s fastest growing element based on user engagement.
So how does Meta plan to keep growing Reels?
Through more recommendations, of course.
As Zuckerberg explains:
“One of the major transformations in our business right now is that social feeds are moving from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to being driven more and more by AI recommending content you’ll find interesting. on Facebook or Instagram, even if you don’t follow those creators. Social content from people you know will continue to be an important part of the experience and some of our most differentiated content, but more and more we will be able to complement it with other interesting content from our networks.”
Which, of course, aligns with TikTok’s approach: part of TikTok’s success lies in its ultra-addictive ‘For You’ main feed, which is a curated list of the most popular content from across the platform, aligned with your interests.
Because TikTok was never built with a social graph in mind (i.e. connecting with friends and family), that gives you a much broader pool of clips to potentially show people, which Meta clearly sees as a core element. of its attractiveness.
Which it is now trying to replicate, much to the chagrin of many users.
But in fact more recommendations come:
“Right now, our AI recommends about 15% of the content in a person’s Facebook feed and slightly more than their Instagram feed from people, groups, or accounts you don’t follow. We expect these numbers to more than double by the end of next year.”
That’s a lot. So not only will Meta apps not reduce the amount of random content in your feeds, they will actually duplicate it, making your new Facebook ‘Home’ feed (as opposed to your ‘Feeds ‘) is increasingly loaded with content. of pages and people you haven’t chosen to follow, while your Instagram timeline will also continue to space out your friends’ updates more and more between recommended posts.
This comes just days after a user petition to ‘Make Instagram Instagram Again’ gained major traction after Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian shared their support for the initiative which, among other things, calls Instagram to ‘stop trying to be TikTok’ and to help users see “cute photos” of their friends once again, instead of random recommended videos.
But Instagram has reiterated that this is the way to go, based on user trends. And now, Zuckerberg has gone a step further, saying that not only will he not change course, but he will actually head harder in that direction as he seeks to maximize user engagement.
“As our AI finds additional content that people find interesting, that increases the engagement and quality of our feeds. […] Royal engagement is also growing rapidly. I shared last quarter that 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 spent engaging with Reels on Facebook and Instagram. AI advancements are driving many of these improvements, and one example is that after launching a new large AI model for recommendations, we saw a 15% increase in watch time on the Reels video player on Facebook alone.” .
You may not like this change, along with the Kardashians, but the stats don’t lie, and if Meta is getting more people to spend more time on its apps as a result of including more recommended content in users’ feeds, you can bet that it will continue to do so, as Zuckerberg has said here.
Zuckerberg also points out that people are increasingly sharing content privately, rather than directly commenting and engaging on a post. So even if direct engagement stats on a post aren’t massive, that doesn’t mean it’s not redistributed across messaging channels, which has become a key avenue for content sharing.
That’s a relevant trend for marketers to note, with users looking to alert their friends to more content, particularly clips from Reels, through direct messages.
Zuckerberg also discussed the monetization of Reels, noting that Reels Ads is now on track to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue, while also looking to increase Reels’ ad load and improve its AI understanding of Reels. Reels clips to help advertisers better target their ads. advertisements
So more Reels, more recommended content, and more ads embedded in your Facebook and IG experiences.
Personally, this doesn’t sound like a recipe for long-term success. But again, stats tell the story, and as more users consume more Reels and recommended content, Meta will continue to feed off of that however it can.
So it’s not Meta you should blame if you hate the way things are changing, it’s people in general, as usage habits are, as always, Meta’s compass.
It’s not Mark Zuckerberg and Adam Mosseri who are doing this, it’s your mom, your sister, those people across the street; it’s all the other Instagram and Facebook users who keep tapping on recommended posts and scrolling through random Reels as they seek to stave off boredom.
Maybe tell them to just download TikTok instead. That might fix it.