Facebook launches Reels globally, betting on fastest growing format – The Guardian


After a dismal earnings report in February and in a bid to attract younger users, the platform is prioritizing short video content

Tue 22 Feb 2022 15.34 EST

Facebook has launched its short video feature Reels globally, its owner Meta Platforms said on Tuesday, in a move to expand its fastest growing content format after reports that overall user numbers are down.

The social media giant, which recently announced a massive pivot into virtual reality products, lost a third of its market value after a dismal earnings report in February. It has highlighted Reels as a key priority to court younger users.

The focus on Reels comes as younger users have flocked in large numbers to rival platforms like TikTok. Internal research from Meta, leaked by former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen, showed young users have been on the decline since 2012 and “only users 25 and above are increasing their use of Facebook”.

Reels had already been available in the US and elsewhere, but will now expand to a total of 150 countries and be more prominently featured on the Facebook and Instagram apps. The video tool will also offer more editing and sharing features, including allowing users to “remix” others’ videos to add their own commentary.

Meta launched Reels on Instagram in 2020 and on Facebook in 2021 as its answer to the explosively popular short-video app TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

The near-copy of the rival platform drew criticisms and allegations of anti-competitive behavior, as Facebook has a history of borrowing key features of its biggest rivals.

“Reels is already our fastest growing content format by far, and today we’re making it available to everyone on Facebook globally,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

The company, which says video now accounts for half of the time people spend on Facebook, also announced new ways for creators to make money through the Reels feature.

It said it was expanding its program to pay creators bonuses to more countries and was testing overlay ads using banners and stickers for creators to earn ad revenue. It would roll out full-screen ads between Reels soon.

Meta said during its latest earnings that it had faced hits from Apple’s privacy changes to its operating system, which have made it harder for brands to target and measure their ads on Facebook and Instagram. It also cited macroeconomic issues like supply-chain disruptions.

The 18-year-old tech behemoth last month also warned it expects slowing revenue growth in the coming quarter due to increased competition for users’ time and a shift of engagement toward features like Reels, which generate less revenue.

In its Tuesday announcement, Meta also said it would roll out updates for users to make and see Facebook Reels in new places, such as in its Stories feature, its Watch tab and at the top of the news feed. In some countries, users will also see suggested Reels in their feed.












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