Competition among social media platforms is tough as each company tries to one-up the other. Facebook is still the king of social platforms, with about 2.4 billion active users. That being said, there are some people who wouldn’t be caught dead on Facebook and either go for Twitter or Instagram depending on the type of content that is most appealing to them.
For a while, this has been the status quo with every user knowing exactly where they fit and why. That was until TikTok started to take over, gaining millions of active users over the past 2 years to become the fastest growing social platform and the app with the highest number of downloads within that time. Today there are over 800 million users on TikTok, quickly closing the gap with Instagram, which has over 1 billion users.
Naturally, this has worried the existing social platforms to the point where they had to do something about this trend. Influencers who have been making money on Instagram also worry about the changing tides and wonder if they too will need a TikTok account.
Instagram’s answer has been Reels, an idea clearly copied from TikTok and meant to directly compete with the up and comer. The question now is, what is this new feature and how will it affect Instagram users and businesses. We will answer all these questions in this post so that you are ready.
What exactly is Instagram Reels?
Remember Vine? Most of us do, recognizing it as the fun video-sharing website that made some of today’s top internet personalities. The service was eventually shut down in 2017, allowing other apps to take its place. TikTok offers a similar service to Vine, only that on the former, videos go up to 15 seconds rather than 6 seconds as it was on Vine. Instagram had already introduced the ability to share videos, but Reels provides a much more similar experience to that of TikTok.
Reels will allow users to create 15-second videos, just like on TikTok, and then post these videos. Currently, it’s already possible to take videos and share them as Instagram Stories. However, these are meant to be more of behind-the-scenes footage leading up to the posted images on a user’s timeline. Besides, these videos only last for 24 hours before ‘disappearing’ having served their purpose. Indeed, Instagram first thought about integrating Reels with Instagram Stories, but the community wanted to keep these videos permanently. Hence, Reels became a completely separate feature that would be added to the app.
Aside from publishing these videos, Reels will have some familiar tools that allow users to edit videos. For instance, you will be able to set background music or other sounds already available on the app or from other users. Some features that may be familiar with TikTok users include the ability to change a video’s speed, add effects, a countdown timer, etc.
Once you’re done editing a video, it will be placed on your Profile page and even on your Instagram Feed as Stories. In the latter case, other users will be able to see the videos in the Explore section of the app. The idea is to eventually make Reels a separate destination within the Instagram app where users can find new videos in the Top Reels tab of the app.
When will Reels become available?
This new feature of Instagram is still in the testing stages and is not available to everyone. It was first introduced in Brazil in 2019 so that the company could understand how users would interact with it. On June 24, 2020, the feature was launched in France and Germany for further tests in a different market.
So far, it is unclear when Reels will become available globally, although it’s likely we shall all get to use it this year or early in 2021. Although the idea is not new, Instagram is not going to take any chances and roll out a new feature that appears broken. That would not be a good look on the company, especially when it’s trying to appear competitive.
However, it won’t be the first time that Instagram copied an idea and turned it into a bigger success. Instagram Stories, for instance, was copied from Snapchat, and now is more popular on Instagram than on Snapchat. The very fact that you probably didn’t even know Stories used to be a Snapchat feature is a testament to what Instagram is capable of. Once Reels is available to everyone, TikTok will certainly have tougher competition to beat.
How can influencers take advantage of Reels?
Once reels are integrated into Instagram, it will be possible to share pictures and videos too. Videos are obviously even more engaging than images, allowing you to explain more about your brand for new users who discover the video on the Explore page, thereby earning more free likes for Instagram.
For you, it doesn’t matter which company wins as long as you get to build and grow your brand, right? Reels will therefore become an additional asset to communicate and engage with your audience on Instagram. TikTok’s recent success has proved that there is demand for video-sharing services, so this is bound to be a great feature.