Creators often find themselves in a frustrating situation where they rely heavily on platforms for their income, but have almost no control over how those platforms operate. A platform can cut off its revenue stream or render its entire business model obsolete at any time.
Recently a The monetization tool on Instagram called Reels Play Bonus has been abolished, leaving developers to find other sources of income to make up for the loss of the $500 to $1,000 they were counting on making each month through Reels Play. The program gave money to content creators if they met certain goals for views on their videos – similar to TikTok’s Creator Fund.
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Anya Tisdale, an Instagram creator with more than 125,000 followers, said she was in one of the test groups for the Reels Play bonus program, which helped her make “quite a bit of money” while in school. It wasn’t enough to pay the rent, but it helped subsidize her work. Because of the program, she started creating tons of reels in hopes of earning more income.
“It was a great way to motivate people to start creating Reels,” Tisdale said, noting that this came at a time when most people were just posting video content on TikTok. “I didn’t do reels like that until they said, ‘Oh, we’ll pay you to do them.'”
However, when creators started posting on the platform, Instagram took away that incentive.
Tisdale wasn’t the only YouTuber affected by Instagram’s latest move. Creator Ivy Rivera said BuzzFeed News Back then, since her income is sporadic, “the bonus program was one of the things I could count on as a creator to make sure I was earning it.” [a certain] “Azure MacCannell, a full-time video creator, told Fortune that he took a pay cut of nearly $100,000 a year with just a few days’ notice when the fund was paused.” “The Meta representatives just… say They keep telling you to use the tools provided (stars, subscriptions, etc.) that just beg followers for money and make meta money in the process. MacCannell told Fortune.
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At a creator and press event at Meta on Friday, October 6, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri asked questions of the audience. Tisdale asked why the tool was no longer available, and Mosseri said the point of the program was to encourage creators to post their videos to Instagram at a time when they only wanted to post to TikTok. And the program worked – but the company cost a lot of money. He said Instagram “put a lot more money into the program that came out of the program, and at the end of the day we are a company. This type of program can’t last forever.” The program just didn’t seem to work that consistently. Initially, YouTubers saw huge payouts, but these began to shrink.
Mosseri said the program is still active in Korea and Japan, where they are not “burning money” to the same extent. Once Meta has “moved the program to a place that I believe is more sustainable,” the company will work to bring it back to the US. But in the end, “it will never be something that gets every creator paid.”
When I asked Meta about the schedule for the program’s return to the US, I couldn’t get much information. A Meta spokesperson said the company is “focused on investing in products and solutions that help creators generate consistent revenue streams, such as subscriptions and the Creator Marketplace.”
“Creators can still earn money directly through Meta, as well as through fan support and brand partnerships, which have seen progress over the last year,” the spokesperson said. But none of Meta’s monetization programs earn creators as much as, for example, TikTok’s Creator Fund. Meta often alerts YouTubers to its subscription model, where regular Instagram users can pay their favorite creators. But as Tisdale says, shifting responsibility to regular users isn’t the solution.
“We do have monetization opportunities, but it’s not the same,” Tisdale said. “Technically I have subscriptions set up, but I don’t expect anyone to subscribe to me because I don’t create specific content for specific people who want to pay to see what’s going on in my life.”
Accordingly Research from Epidemic Sound30 percent of YouTubers said TikTok was the top platform for generating revenue, followed by YouTube (25.8 percent), Facebook (16.5 percent), Twitter (13.1 percent), and at the bottom List with only 7.1 percent Instagram.
“A lot of people were happy about it [the Instagram Reels Play bonus program]Tisdale said. “It gave a lot of people hope. It made people feel good that they were benefiting from their hard work.”
Well that’s over and Meta keeps saying it’s on the way back but without a timetable. To the creators, it feels like they’re appeasing them – and gambling with their livelihood.