Recently, Meta has been trying to find new ways to reimagine Instagram, which is having a tough go this year, mostly because of the ongoing competition with TikTok.
In August 2020, Meta introduced Reels to Instagram as an effort to level the playing field with TikTok’s successful video content. Something they missed in adding Reels to the mix was the ability for users to go beyond giving their favourite creator just a like or comment. Even so, it is no secret that Instagram has a reputation for mimicking features of other socials, so it comes as no surprise that they announced a new feature for tipping on Reels.
A new way for Creators to Make Money
There has been speculation around Instagram’s integration of the tipping feature for a few months, but according to a representative from Meta, the feature is officially in the works.
Instagram is now testing ‘Gifts’, first discovered by developer Alessandro Paluzzi who tweeted the change in screenshots, just a few weeks prior. In the screenshots shared by Paluzzi, under the creator section there is now a ‘Gifts’ option, which has replaced content appreciation. Paluzzi stumbled upon the feature by chance while reverse-engineering variations of Instagram’s code.
Currently, ‘Gifts’ is only being tested internally and is not available to external users. Meta has not yet released a detailed breakdown of what ‘Gifts’ allows users to do, however, based on models of similar ‘tipping’ features on Facebook, TikTok or YouTube, one can make some guesses. This style of content interaction would allow users to send or donate tips to each other within the Reels section of Instagram. Essentially, this is Meta’s way of providing Instagram creators with a way to monetize their content and increase engagement on Reels.
Making Reels More Promising
The addition of ‘Gifts’ to Instagram is supposed to have multiple benefits, for engagement and for users. It is estimated that approximately a fifth of engagement and platform usage comes from Reels, with over half of content sent within direct messages also being Reels. It’s predicted that ‘Gifts’ will be a way of elevating those numbers since Meta has acknowledged the stiff competition, primarily TikTok. Meta has previously introduced tips on Facebook Reels so this isn’t the first time the company is dipping into alternatives for creators to make money through donation features.
‘Gifts’ also presents a solution to the originality of Reels on Instagram, a large majority of Reels videos were produced on TikTok. It is estimated that over one-third of them had a watermark or border indicating that they were made elsewhere. Could this have to do with the fact that creators have the opportunity to make more money on TikTok due to their longstanding tipping option? It is likely, but soon things might change for Instagram once ‘Gifts’ is introduced to users.