In this guest post, digital marketing manager of Breadnbeyond Nat McNeely discusses Instagram’s answer to TikTok, and what people are saying a week on after the launch…
While TikTok’s future remains uncertain in some countries, Facebook’s Instagram is attempting to win over some creators with its new feature called Reels.
Instagram says that the Reels are “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos.” This feature first launched last week on August 5 in more than 50 countries, including Australia — which is seemingly the perfect time as TikTok was currently taking heat with some countries like the United States and India over security concerns.
This is not the first attempt from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, to compete with the world’s fastest-growing social media app, TikTok. In late 2018, Facebook launched a social juggernaut’s TikTok clone, a stand-alone app Lasso. Then, it was shut down and removed the app last month because it failed to gain popularity.
Also quite similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels allows users to create short-form multi-clip videos (up to 15 seconds) alongside music from the Instagram library, AR effects, and various new creative editing tools. The Reels videos can be shared directly with friends and followers on “Feed” or “Explore.” This is a smart move from Instagram to increase user’s time spent and bring more users to the app.
To hype the feature, Instagram even added a specific landing spot for Reels videos at the top of Explore, much like the “For You Page” on TikTok.
Despite major similarities between the two products, Robin Stein, Instagram’s product director, said that they’re both different. “At the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.” However, he gave credit to TikTok for popularizing the short video format, “I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge.
Stein also says that the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok is its tie-ins to the overarching Instagram ecosystem. It means users can directly save the Reels videos to their friends and followers on the platform and so they can use Instagram-specific AR filters and instruments.
A Week After the Launch
One week after its launch, Instagram Reels has already faced uncertainty and several reactions among the crowd.
According to a Fanbytes survey that involved influencers, 75% of TikTok creators said that they would not move to Instagram Reels just yet.
Some creators say that the feature lacks quite a lot of TikTok’s prized editing features, and the maximum duration for the videos is way too short compared to TikTok’s maximum of 60 seconds.
TikTok users that try Instagram Reels also find it off-putting when Reels videos shown on the Explore page are mostly from verified accounts. While on TikTok, any user, with a massive or small amount of followers, has the same capability to be featured.
Not to mention Instagram users can’t earn bucks off their Reels videos since there are no monetization tools yet. Those points just show how Instagram Reels is still different from TikTok.
That being said, another survey from Dexerto finds that even if some TikTok users are hesitant to utilize Reels right away, they’re still planning to add the Instagram Reels into their overall social strategy. That’s because they want to expand their audience base beyond a single platform and cultivate a stronger following.