Instagram has just released Reels, a potential TikTok beater. This comes at the best time possible, as TikTok faces major issues worldwide. Is Reels going to beat TikTok?
Unless you have been living under a very large rock for the last six months, you will know what TikTok is. It’s a huge phenomenon, and true to form, it has created excitement at Facebook.
Facebook owns Instagram, and has just brought out Reels, which is basically seen as being Instagram’s very own version of TikTok. Is this a shameless copy or is it a completely new thing that adds a lot more to the 15 second video phenomenon? We thought we would take a good look and find out if Reels has anything new to offer, or if it simply does what TikTok does, but better.
So what is it?
It’s being made available in the USA and 50 other countries, so it’s very much worldwide. The basic premise is that users create 15 second videos set to music. You can edit these clips together and then upload them to your Instagram Stories. You can also place them on your Explore feed, as well as a brand spanking new Reels tab on your profile. Interestingly, users can also see Reels from trending accounts on Instagram. Algorithms are at play too, so you will also see featured reels from creators that Instagram thinks are relevant and engaging for you.
Other aspects echo the work of TikTok. You can click on ‘use audio’ when you hear a song clip you like. Music can be selected and pulled from a large library from Reels, or users can also grab their own audio from their own collections.
Making the reels themselves is easy when it comes to the visuals. You can either make clips in the moment with your phone or mobile device camera, or you can drag clips off your own library. Either way, it’s all about simplicity and efficiency.
Manipulation of Reels after creation is simple too. You can draw and use text tools to personalise the work you have done. There are also plenty of Instagram stickers that can be utilised with your video content too.
Why is it?
Reels looks pretty fantastic, and one of the key reasons why it will most likely do well is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and his team are known for ‘fail fast, fail often’ approaches. If Reels doesn’t work, Instagram won’t mind, and will drop it soon enough.
Back in 2018, Facebook launched something called Lasso. This was a direct answer to TikTok, back when TikTok was nowhere near as big as it is now. Lasso died away, because people simply were not using it. One of the reasons why it was so unpopular was the fact that it was a standalone app. Reels is built into the mighty Instagram, still the platform of choice for Influencers and pretty much anyone else who wants to make money online.
At the same time, while Lasso was a disaster, it wasn’t. Like we said, Facebook fails fast and often, and the Lasso shipwreck was all about gathering data. By seeing how Lasso failed, Facebook was able to pump ideas into the new project. Reels could well become the TikTok beater because Facebook knows what a TikTok beater doesn’t look like.
It also seems to have come out at a time when TikTok is facing a huge challenge worldwide, but primarily in the USA. At the time of writing, it is looking at a ban in the USA. It has also faced issues around inappropriate content.
One thing that Reels will have over TikTok is the music library. We don’t know how ‘good’ the built-in music for Reels is going to be (that will be tested over time with usage), but having music already there can’t be a bad thing. TikTok users have complained in the past about not having a good library of music to work with. Many apps and platforms that rely upon music are offering it as part of the experience. Creators sometimes need to have music ready at the start of the process.
Users of TikTok also don’t seem particularly distraught about potential bans or other issues around the app, with some even looking at the funny side of things. It all seems like the perfect time for Instagram to launch Reels.
So what next?
We anticipate Reels being big. We could be wrong, of course, but it has Instagram behind it and that means a lot as regards market share. Having a release in 50 countries can’t hurt it’s chances either.
When it comes to marketing, it has to be said that it will be a solid channel if it takes off. Having music there already makes marketing easier. And the solid backup of the biggest social media company in the world can only help make it a true marketing tool that gets results.
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