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What is Instagram Reels? What to know about Facebook’s TikTok competitor

 

TikTok is in for some serious competition as Facebook makes its way into the short-form social media video platform. Facebook just launched Instagram's Reels in the U.S. and over 50 other foreign countries. You will be able to make Reels using Facebook's Instagram app. The functionality the app gives, offers direct competition to the notoriously famous TikTok. 

These services are quite similar to each other in many ways. Instagram's Reels offers users to create 15-second videos and then edit them as they like using the built-in tools. The videos can then either be shared publicly or with friends and family.

What are Instagram's Reels

Just like TikTok, Reels allow users to create 5-second edited videos with overload music. These videos then can be posted on their feed, Stories or the new dedicated Reels section which can be seen in the Instagram Explore tab. You can expect to see lip-syncing videos just like you see on TikTok. The timing is also quite convenient to release in the U.S., as recently trump threatened to ban TikTok. This could also force TikTok to be sold to an American Company, and Microsoft seems like a potential buyer.

Yes, Reels might be the next big thing here,  as growth of Instagram can be leveraged for the success of Reels, but this is not the first time Facebook has come up with an idea quite similar to TikTok. Facebook has done it in the past and failed miserably. One good example of this is Lasso.

Lasso, the TikTok clone that didn't work

The last time Facebook came into direct competition with TikTok, it didn't go so well. Back in November 2018, when TikTok bought Musical.ly so it could be launched in the U.S., Facebook also entered the competition with a standalone app called, Lasso which just like TikTok, allowed users to make short videos with music overlays on them. When the app launched, Facebook's spokesman said that Lasso was a standalone app made for people to share entertaining videos, fitness videos and much more. This is also how Facebook is presenting Reels.

The problem with Lasso was that since it was a standalone app, it struggled to get users. The app reportedly had fewer than 80,000 daily active users on Android by June 1, 2019. As Facebook saw how the app couldn't perform, shut it down Lasso in July 2020 just as Instagram Reels is about to launch.

How can you create a Reels clip

According to Instagram, you will be able to make Reels using Instagram's Stories. There will be a new tab for Reels in Instagram's Stories section. Creating a video on Reels is quite similar to how TikTok works, but if it would be as seamless, remains to be seen.

How to know the difference between normal and Reels videos?

When going through your Instagram feed, the way you would distinguish between a normal post and Reels clip is by a unique clapboard icon you can see on Reels videos on the bottom-left corner.

How will Reels feel and look like on Instagram?

According to how Instagram describes it, the viewing experience will be quite similar to what you see on TikTok. There will be a music track overlaid on the video, and you can see the title, along with commenting and liking. It remains to be found how Instagram Reel's work in terms of selecting the next video if it will either scroll vertically similar to how TikTok does how would you have to go back to the Explore Page to watch other clips.

Where will an individual's Reels be kept

There will be a new dedicated tab added to everyone's profile to show all the Reels the specific account has. This way, you have all the Reels of someone collected neatly in one place. This tab will be just beside the traditional grid of recent posts along with the tabs of viewing videos.

When can I use Reels?

Brazil was one of the first countries to try out Instagram's Reels in November. Then in June, France and Germany also got to try the feature. Then in July India also got to try out Reels. Now just on Wednesday, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, along with more than 50 countries, can use Instagram's latest feature.

What's the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok?

The main difference right now between Reels and TikTok is that the latter's videos are now 60 seconds long whereas Instagram Reels videos are only 15 seconds.

Instagram's head of product, Shah, claims that Reels will be different from Instagram in a way as it will give users a more built-out augmented reality platform. Additionally, the users will be able to make the type of videos they love, right in the app they are familiar with.

He further stated that TikTok was not the founder of short video as the format existed way before them. He believes that consumers will go towards the product that does it better.

Why is Instagram Reels such a big deal?

No matter how much hate it gets, it's quite apparent how successful TikTok has been. Generation Z has not only embraced it, but they also use it for their social interaction, making TikTok a staple of Internet culture. The app currently has over 2.3 billion downloads. It seems like people love the way short videos allow them to lip-sync, dance to trending music and show off their inner comedian.

TikTok bloomed particularly in the U.S. where it first launched in 2018. More than 100 million American users are making creative short videos. Instagram has been outperformed by TikTok quite regularly.

Will it succeed?

The problem is that as we discussed above, Facebook's last attempt was a total failure. Lasso which was launched in November 2018 couldn't gather enough users to complete against TikTok. Lasso was then shut down on July 10, allowing Facebook to introduce their latest attempt, Instagram Reels properly. Growth of Instagram still can play it's part in growing Reels.

Facebook has been quite often seen copying trending features of other social networking platforms. They integrate these features into their apps, and they also have seen success with it. The most notable of these features is Snapchat's Snap's Stories feature which was brought to Instagram and was far more popular than it was on Snapchat.

About Jeff

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I'm a content marketer and an SEO guy aiming at producing and marketing high quality content that can benefit the audience.

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