Creators and influencers relied on the Facebook and Instagram Reels Play bonus program to provide them with an extra source of income throughout 2022. However, in mid-March 2023, reputable online media outlets reported that Meta was discontinuing Reels bonuses for creators worldwide.
What Is the Reels Play Bonus Program?
As TikTok’s short-form video platform continued to rise in popularity, Instagram and Facebook (now Meta) were concocting ways to remain competitive. Introduced on Instagram in 2021 and added to Facebook shortly after, the Reels Play bonus program incentivized and paid creators to publish short-form video content. The goal? To provide users a reason to choose their platforms over TikTok by exponentially increasing the number of engaging short-form videos available as quickly as possible. While uncommon, some creators made upwards of $30,000 in a month.
Facebook and Instagram Reels – The Beta Test That Never Ended
Meta’s over-eagerness to draw users to Facebook and Instagram Reels led to many flaws. Meta failed to give creators any meaningful information on platform updates while haphazardly rolling them out.
And while Meta seemed to take little notice of the complaints from a bulk of their userbase, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian grabbed their attention by re-sharing this on their Instagram profiles.
This post had more to do with Instagram’s userbase being annoyed with updates pushing video content to the platform’s forefront. However, it coincided with Facebook and Instagram Reels updates happening in the background. As a result, Meta somewhat caved in to deal with the blowback induced by the reality TV stars. Still, the social media giant continued focusing on optimizing short-form video content without angering their consumers.
A Look Back: Instagram Is Intensifying Competition With TikTok and YouTube
Did Meta Actually Discontinue the Reels Play Bonus Program?
Initially reported by Business Insider, this news subsequently appeared on TechCrunch, Engadget, and BuzzFeed while Meta remained silent. Meta claims to be transparent, going so far as to feature a Transparency Center on its website. However, that information pertains to how Meta deals with potentially problematic content.
Over the past several months, Facebook and Instagram made sporadic updates to monetization policies pertaining to Reels. The following timeline summarizes some of the ongoing tweaks in 2023.
January through February 2023
The Reels Play bonus program was available to nearly all creators, paying an average of $.40 per 1000 views (CPM). In addition, popular content creators also received a percentage of revenue generated from ad overlays.
Early March 2023
The Reels Play bonus program seemingly ended. There was no official announcement; creators realized the change had occurred when logging in and noticing their bonus payments froze. Ad revenue was still available to popular content creators.
Mid-March through Today
Again, without any announcement from Meta, the Reels Play bonus program reappeared with new stipulations. To be eligible, creators must now have a minimum of 100,000 views in the last 30 days. Ad revenue is now being offered to nearly all creators, but payments are significantly less than the $.40 CPM they previously received. Additionally, most creators are eligible to receive Facebook Stars; these virtual gifts enable viewers to reward creators for their favorite content. Each Facebook Star is equivalent to $.01. Instagram has a similar program called Gifts. Unsurprisingly, Facebook Stars and Instagram Gifts comprise the smallest portion of creator revenue.
The Future of Facebook and Instagram Reels
While Meta and other individuals and corporations lobby for the US Government to ban TikTok, I do not personally see that happening any time soon. Either way, the bigwigs at Facebook and Instagram need to figure out how to make Reels profitable for both Meta and the creators utilizing their platforms. And they have to accomplish this without angering the billions of Facebook and Instagram users who aren’t creators or influencers. So, what does the future have in store for Facebook and Instagram reels? The Metaverse is a great mystery.