Meta is at another critical pivot point. In addition to the “metaverse,” the company’s other North Star is short-form video. The company has been doubling down on Reels — Meta’s answer to the TikTok craze. In an attempt to try to win back its declining Gen Z user base, Meta is aggressively going after TikTok. But its copycat tactics and forced engagement strategy show no signs of winning, according to new data from Forrester’s August 2022 Consumer Energy Index And Retail Pulse Survey.

Reels Places Last In The Three-Way Short-Form Video Race

Despite Reels accounting for 30% of the time spent on Instagram (up from 20% in Q1, according to Meta’s earnings releases), Reels continues to rank considerably lower in weekly usage when compared to its competition. Fewer than 10% of online adults in the US (9%), the UK (8%), and France (6%) indicate that they use Reels at least weekly. Yet nearly one in four US online adults (23%) use TikTok at least weekly, and 17% indicate the same for YouTube Shorts.

About Four Times As Many Gen Z Online Adults Prefer TikTok Over Reels

Despite its focus on Gen Z, Meta’s coveted target audience isn’t taking the bait: Just one in five (21%) of US Gen Z online adults use Reels at least weekly, compared to 53% who use TikTok and 29% who use YouTube Shorts. And when it comes to favorability, the gap is much wider: Just 9% of US Gen Z online adults say that Reels is their favorite for short-form video (more than TikTok and YouTube Shorts), versus 34% who feel the same about TikTok and 27% for YouTube Shorts.

Courting Conservatives Could Be An Effective Strategy For Meta’s Reels

While 30% of US online adult liberals indicate using TikTok at least weekly, just 16% of US conservatives say the same. And in the UK, the disparity is even more striking: 24% versus 8%. Yet in both countries, weekly usage of Reels is equal or close to parity across political affiliations. For example, 9% of US online adult liberals as well as conservatives indicate that they use Reels on a weekly basis. In the UK, the difference is just 4 percentage points (11% versus 7%).

Marketers: As you make investment decisions for 2023, Forrester recommends that when it comes to short-form video, start with TikTok, experiment with YouTube Shorts, and continue to watch what happens with Reels. Be sure to check out our 2023 planning guide for more B2C marketing budget recommendations.

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