Is Instagram Bringing Back Its Reels Play Bonus for Creators?

Creators on social media platforms often find themselves in a precarious position, heavily reliant on these platforms for their income, yet having little control over the mechanisms governing their earnings. The whims of these platforms can disrupt their revenue streams or even render their entire business models obsolete. A recent case in point was the removal of Instagram’s Reels Play bonus, leaving creators searching for alternative sources of income to compensate for the $500 to $1,000 they had come to rely on each month through this program. This article delves into the impact of Instagram’s Reels Play bonus, its significance to content creators, and the potential of its return, shedding light on the complexities faced by creators in the digital realm.

The Reels Play Bonus Program: A Creator’s Lifeline

The Reels Play bonus program, introduced by Instagram, was a monetization tool that extended a financial lifeline to content creators. The program rewarded creators with money when they achieved specific viewing goals on their video content, a system reminiscent of TikTok’s Creator Fund. For many creators, this program represented a reliable source of income, a financial safety net they could count on.

One influencer, who collaborates with MarkMeets, shared her experience with the Reels Play bonus program. She emphasized how it had provided her with a substantial income stream during her school days. While it might not have covered her rent entirely, it significantly supplemented her earnings. This financial boost incentivized her to create more Reels content in the hopes of increasing her income. She noted, “It was a great way to incentivize people to start making Reels.” She admitted that she hadn’t created Reels content actively until Instagram offered financial incentives.

However, once creators had embraced the platform and started posting their content more frequently, Instagram abruptly terminated the Reels Play bonus program. This sudden move left creators grappling with the loss of a dependable source of income. Ivy Rivera, another creator, expressed her reliance on the bonus program, particularly because her income as a creator was inconsistent. She highlighted the significance of the bonus program, stating that it provided assurance of a certain income level each month.

Azure MacCannell, a full-time video creator, narrated a disheartening story of how the suspension of the program resulted in a nearly $100,000-a-year reduction in his earnings, with only a few days’ notice. He also criticized Meta, Instagram’s parent company, for pushing creators to use tools such as stars and subscriptions, which, in his view, amounted to soliciting money from followers, benefiting Meta at creators’ expense.

The Rationale Behind Instagram’s Move

To understand why Instagram discontinued the Reels Play bonus program, we turn to a statement by Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram. At a creator and press event held at Meta, Mosseri fielded questions from the audience, and one creator, Tisdale, raised the issue of the program’s discontinuation. Mosseri explained that the program’s initial objective was to encourage creators to post their videos on Instagram, a time when most were predominantly using TikTok for their content.

The program did succeed in its mission, motivating creators to shift their focus to Instagram. However, it came at a significant cost to the company. Mosseri pointed out, “Instagram was putting way more money into the program than was coming out of the program, and we’re a business at the end of the day. That kind of program can’t last forever.” The initial high payouts to creators were not sustainable in the long run, and as a result, the program had to be discontinued.

Mosseri mentioned that the Reels Play bonus program still operates in Korea and Japan, where it is more financially viable. The plan is to refine the program to a more sustainable level before reintroducing it in the United States. However, he also made it clear that it would not be a program that could cater to every creator’s financial needs.

The Uncertain Road to Resumption

While the potential for the Reels Play bonus program’s return lingers, the timeline for its revival remains uncertain. A Meta spokesperson provided little information when questioned about the timeline for the program’s reimplementation. Instead, they emphasized Meta’s focus on investing in products and solutions to help creators establish stable income streams. These include subscriptions and the Creator Marketplace, among other options.

According to the spokesperson, creators can still monetize their content on Meta, leveraging support from their fans and brand partnerships, both of which have demonstrated progress over the past year. However, these monetization avenues still fall short of the lucrative opportunities provided by platforms like TikTok’s Creator Fund. Meta often directs creators to its subscription model, where regular Instagram users can pay their favorite creators. Yet, this approach places the responsibility on everyday users, and it does not compare to the more creator-friendly alternatives offered by other platforms.

A survey of creators revealed that 30 percent consider TikTok the top platform for generating income, followed by YouTube (25.8 percent), Facebook (16.5 percent), Twitter (13.1 percent), and Instagram at the bottom of the list with just 7.1 percent.

The Impact on Creators

The removal of Instagram’s Reels Play bonus program has left a significant void for content creators. This program served as an essential source of income for many, providing financial stability and incentivizing them to create content for the platform. It offered hope and encouragement to creators, motivating them to put in the hard work, with the promise of reaping the benefits. Its discontinuation, though, has shaken their confidence and left them searching for alternative income sources.

Creators have expressed their frustration at the uncertainty surrounding the program’s return. Without a clear timeline or commitment, they feel that their livelihoods are being played with. The lack of a dependable source of income can impact creators’ ability to sustain themselves and continue producing content.

The Path Forward for Creators

In this challenging landscape, content creators must explore alternative avenues for income generation. Relying solely on platforms and their monetization programs may not provide the financial security creators need. Diversifying income streams is crucial for safeguarding their livelihoods.

Creators can explore options like brand partnerships, merchandise sales, and crowdfunding to supplement their income. Building a loyal fan base and engaging with them through various channels, including subscriptions and exclusive content, can also be a valuable strategy. Moreover, exploring other social media platforms where monetization is more creator-friendly, like TikTok and YouTube, can help creators establish a stable income.


The discontinuation of Instagram’s Reels Play bonus program has had a profound impact on content creators, leaving them in a state of uncertainty regarding their income. While Instagram’s rationale for this move is rooted in the financial sustainability of the program, creators find themselves at a loss, searching for alternative sources of income.

The timeline for the program’s potential return remains vague, adding to creators’ frustration. In response, creators must consider diversifying their income streams and exploring other platforms that offer more lucrative monetization opportunities. While the road ahead may be uncertain, creators will continue to adapt and evolve in the ever-changing digital landscape, finding ways to support their creative endeavors.

Author Profile

Adam Regan
Adam Regan
Deputy Editor

Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.


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