July 19, 2024
Instagram algorithm concept

Instagram is testing a way for creators to experiment with reels without committing to having them displayed on their profiles, giving the social network a possible edge over TikTok and a way for creators to test new content without pressure to perform.

The company this week began global tests of this new “trial reels” feature that aims to give creators a way to explore different types of content or be more creative by publishing reels that don’t appear to their followers. After posting a reel using this feature, Instagram will share insights about the reel’s performance with the creator, including things like plays, likes, comments and shares. Based on those insights, the creator could then choose to share their reel with their followers or archive it.

The feature, which has been spotted in the wild among select creators, evolved from an earlier test of something called “Experiment mode,” which was first uncovered by reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi back in April. Similar to these new trial reels, Experiment mode has also allowed creators to post reels that would only be shown to non-followers.

In a screenshot posted by Paluzzi, Instagram indicated that even though the reel won’t be visible on their profile, followers could still see the reel if someone shares it directly with them. It also notes that the reel will be archived after 24 hours if the creator chooses not to share it publicly.

In the current tests, however, Instagram is experimenting with various iterations of the feature which may include different lengths of time before the reel is archived. Based on these learnings, the final version of the feature — assuming it launches publicly — could still change. Creators will know if they’re a part of the test as they’ll see a notification introducing them to the feature when they go to publish a reel.

Instagram declined to comment on the tests.

“We’re always exploring different ways for creators to express themselves on Instagram, but nothing to share at the moment,” a Meta spokesperson told us.

The social network is developing the feature as creators have said their reach has been negatively impacted by the app’s algorithm, leading to complaints. Trial reels could potentially help those creators build a larger following by giving them room to experiment with what works and what does not.

That could be useful because many creators feel that their Instagram is like their business card, which adds pressure around publishing. They only want to put their most polished content forward so as not to risk losing followers.

Trial reels are being tested globally with select creators that have a professional account and access to the feature is not gated by number of followers or other metrics.

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