Instagram Reels are taking off even though celebrities have criticized the app for acting like TikTok, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday.
Reels, a short-form video feature on both Instagram and Facebook, have been compared to the format of Chinese video platform TikTok. Critics have hit out at Instagram’s push for more video content.
During Meta’s third-quarter results call, Zuckerberg said the production and consumption of reels was growing with users playing more than 140 billion reels across Facebook and Instagram every day.
He said this was 50% more than six months ago, adding: “On Instagram alone, people already reshare Reels one billion times a day through DMs.”
The video feature was “incremental” for users spending time on Instagram and Facebook, Zuckerberg said. “The trends look good here, and we believe that we’re gaining time spent share on competitors like TikTok.”
Meta had chosen to take a quarterly revenue hit of more than $500 million, Zuckerberg said, because they did not yet generate as much advertising income as Stories or feeds.
“I think this is clearly the right thing to do so that Reels can grow with the demand we’re seeing, but closing this gap is also a high priority,” he said.
While the Meta chief said Reels let users find new hobbies and connect with creators and businesses, some celebrities don’t agree.
After Meta announced it would emphasize videos over photos, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, who both have more than 300 million Instagram users, posted a picture on their Stories in July telling Instagram to “stop trying to be TikTok,” leading to other users doing the same.
“Make Instagram Instagram again (stop trying to be TikTok. I just want to see cute photos of my friends). Sincerely, everyone,” read the message that the half-sisters shared.
Instagram pulled the plug on the plans three days after Jenner and Kardashian posted the warning on their Stories.
Meta didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
According to an internal company report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal in September, Instagram users were spending less than 18 million hours a day watching reels. In comparison, TikTok users were scrolling through the app for nearly 200 million hours every day, per the Journal.
A Meta spokesperson told Insider at the time that the Journal’s report used “outdated and, in some cases, incorrect data to paint a false picture of our progress on Reels.”