Just Launched: Instagram Reels

Earlier this month, Instagram Reels was announced, Facebook’s platform to rival competitor TikTok. Reels allows users to create and share short-form video content on a dedicated Reel Feed or in Explore. Instagram is always looking to bring in more users, increase daily active users of their app and cement its place as a video entertainment platform. The timely launch comes as fears spike over TikToks’s future in the US, where users are already panicking and looking for alternative platforms. 

But is Reels just a copycat of TikTok?

Some would argue Instagram is just downright copying TikTok, and similar accusations came when Instagram launched Stories which was identical to the app, Snapchat.

However, Instagram’s head of product, Shah, says that Reels will differ to TikTok in giving users a more built out augmented reality platform, as well as offering users a way to make short form videos inside of Instagram, a place they already love and know how to use. 

Instagram is committed to the growth of Reels, and nevertheless it gives opportunity to brands to engage with their audience in a new and unique way, in a place that is familiar to them, without having to migrate to newer platforms that haven’t stood the test of time or proven the relevance to each brand. 

How does Reels work?

Users record and edit together 15-second video clips set to music and can share them to their stories, or profile and new Reels tab, next to IGTV on the user’s profile. If the account is public, it can also be shared to Explore Feed, which is a great way for brands to gain new followers and exposure. While browsing Explore users scroll vertically through all available videos, similar to the ‘for you’ page on TikTok.

Other features in Reels include: 

Audio: Search through Instagram’s huge library of music or record your own original audio. 

AR effects: Select through many effects in Instagram’s effects library, created by Instagram or creators/influencers all over the world

Timer & Countdown: Set the timer to record any clips hands-free

Speed: Choose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected 

Align: Create seamless transitions by lining up objects from previous clip to before your next recording. 

How does this benefit brands?

With over 1 billion active users already on Instagram, Reels is another opportunity for brands to reach and engage with their audiences. 

Video content is dominating the market, and brands already know the strength of in-feed videos & Instagram stories, so with the addition of Reels instagram could become very powerful for any marketer and is pushing forward a more organic and more natural & genuine approach online. 

Unfortunately there is no Ad or feature option yet, if Reels becomes available on Facebook Ads Manager it will become a powerful marketing tool. TikTok’s new self-serve ads platform fails in comparison, and is rather limiting, so Reels has the opportunity to become a powerhouse in this aspect. 

It’s still early days for Reels, with brands only starting to dip their toes in and start experimenting with Reels, so only time will tell what exciting new opportunities Reels will bring. 

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