Is Instagram really going after TikTok? Call me shocked and appalled – sarcasm alert.
Instagram is currently testing its new Reels feature in a variety of countries, including India, which most recently banned TikTok (this is certainly not a coincidence). The feature is currently live in Germany and France.
Yet, his isn’t the first time that Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, has attempted to launch an alternative to the new cool kind on the social block. In 2019, Facebook launched its short-form standalone app Lasso, which failed rather miserably.
Reels is a new feature and could be the response to the growing popularity of TikTok — which has surged in popularity over the last 12 months. According to research data from AdWeek, the percentage of US-based TikTok users aged between 25-34 increased from 22.4% in January to 27.4% in April, while the 18-24 year-old bracket fell from 41.1% to 35.3%
Unlike Lasso, Reels is clearly playing on Instagram’s popularity and the familiarity of its users with features like Instagram stories.
As reported by NBC’s Dylan Byers, Instagram is looking to launch Reels in the US, and 50 other regions, “in a matter of weeks,” expanding beyond the current four nations where the function is accessible. Facebook has confirmed this timeline to TechCrunch, with US users set to get access to Reels in August.
Imagine reels as the hybrid child of IGTV and Instagram stories. Instagram Reels can be shared on Instagram Stories, shared to users in DMS, or added to a new Reels tab on a user’s profile.
Soon to be featured in the grid, as well as in the explore Feed, Reels are dangerously similar to TikTok videos in their format. Users can record 15-second video clips set to music and share them to Stories. You can add your own soundtrack, specific songs and even a new suite of AR effect.
Seriously, the feeling of deja-vu has become staggering by now.
The editing format of Reels will be found in the Stories tab, among other popular options such as ‘Create’, ‘Live’ or ‘Hands Free’. Top Reels will also collate all of the best-performing public Reels for an extra chance to go viral.
How to post Instagram Reels
- Open the Stories tab and select the Reels option at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap on the Audio option and select the song to play in the background of the video, or use original audio by recording a video using your own phone. You can either upload a video or record by pressing the button.
- Add AR effects or edit the video using Timer, Speed, and Edit options on the left-hand side.
- After creating the video, you can share it with just your followers or everyone on Instagram.
How to View Reels
- Open Instagram and browse your feed till you spot any Reels video. You will see the Reels icon on the bottom-left of the video. Tap that icon and it’ll take you to Reels only. The video will keep looping until you swipe down to watch more videos.
- If you’ve posted Reels, you can also watch Reels by going to your profile page and tapping the Reels icon, the same for any other profile you follow.
- You can also watch Instagram Reels is to go to the Explore feed on Instagram by tapping the magnifying glass icon. You’ll see a Reels video featured at the top. Tap Reels and swipe down to watch more Reels videos.
How Instagram is upping the game
The folks at Instagram (and Facebook) are smart, I will give you that. Bringing as many features together to allow creators to express themselves in a variety of ways has been something that has constantly pushed them ahead of the curve.
Would this new feature be the end of TikTok? It is clearly too early to tell. Yet, as so many people are going back to their normal routine, it will be interesting to see how TikTok usage will shift in the coming months.
Only time will tell, yet I am excited to see what is coming next.
Are you new to TikTok? Find out more about why everyone is obsessed with it here.
My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.