“Why would I ever use Instagram Reels?” you might be wondering. Well, Instagram has a question of its own: Do you like money? Are you interested in... being rich?
Seeking to incentivize users to post more of the TikTok-like content that the platform is really, really trying to make happen, Instagram is reportedly beefing up the bonuses it currently offers to creators who use Reels.
Yet another symptom of the TikTok-ification Of All Things, Reels was launched in 2020 as Facebook’s answer to the short-form video craze. Much like on TikTok, Instagram users can post 15-second videos set to music on Reels, with the option to repost and respond to other users’ clips and a trove of editing tools at their disposal to make cutting and syncing videos maximally intuitive.
In fact, the feature’s interface is looking more and more similar to TikTok’s with each passing day: On Friday, it was reported that Reels had also added text-to-speech and voice effects—accessibility features that have become so ubiquitously associated with TikTok, the app’s original voice actor filed suit against the platform, claiming she’d never authorized the use of her recordings in the thousands of viral videos they were used in.
Back in July, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to pay out $1 billion through 2022 in order to offer “...creators new ways to earn money for the content they create on Facebook and Instagram.” For Reels, those bonuses have varied wildly, with some users reportedly being offered as much as $35,000 in a month, so long as their Reels receive 58.31 million views (yes, that’s extremely specific).
But on Friday, TechCrunch reported on anecdotal claims by some creators with smaller followings who have seen the payouts on offer multiply by a factor of 10 in the last month alone. One Instagram user with about 24,000 followers told the site that they were eligible for a bonus of up to $800 last month if they got 1.7 million views on all reels posted—a number that jumped to $8,500 for 9.28 million views this month.
As TechCrunch notes, it’s incredibly difficult to nail down any hard-and-fast criteria for who’s being offered what amount of money. One user, Maddy Corbin, who has ~52,000 followers, reported being offered up to $1,000 for her reels in a month while some of her creators peers were offered far lower sums.
“I saw some people that had more followers than me and they could only make $600,” Corbin told TechCrunch. “I wish I knew more on how that was generated. All I can think of is maybe it’s based off of past Reels’ performance.”
In dangling cash incentives in front of users in order to get them to create on their platform instead of TikTok, Instagram is not alone: YouTube and Snapchat each deployed their own creator funds in recent months, with YouTube announcing that it would pay out up to $10,000 a month for viral videos and Snapchat rolling out Spotlight Challenges, an incentives program where the prizes range from $1,000 to $25,000.
Gizmodo reached out to Instagram for clarification on how the bonuses for Reels creators are calculated and will update this post with their response. In a statement to TechCrunch, Instagram said that the payments were still being tested as they continue to become available to more creators and are expected “to fluctuate while we’re still getting started.”
“We’ve designed bonuses so that we can help as many creators as we can in a way that is achievable and drives meaningful earnings,” Instagram said. “Our goal is for bonuses to become more personalized over time.”