Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also just the way business is done in competitive fields like social media marketing. So when an idea finds a wide audience – like TikTok – it’s natural to expect other competitors to emerge or platforms to adapt in order to get some of that success for themselves.
One of those, Facebook Lasso, shut down in mid-July only a year and a half after the stand-alone app launched. However, another TikTok competitor, Instagram Reels, recently expanded to India, it’s coming soon to the US and it could eventually become a true rival to TikTok just as the Chinese company is facing backlash over privacy concerns.
Instagram Reels, which originally launched in Brazil in November 2019, is a feature within the Instagram app that allows users to create 15-second videos set to music. In addition to music, users can also take clips from other videos and use the sound bites to create viral videos, the same way that dance memes start to spread on TikTok.
Instagram Reels launched in India shortly after TikTok was banned in the country over privacy concerns. In addition to India, it’s currently available in Brazil, Germany, and France, and an NBC News report on July 16 stated that it will soon roll out to 50 more countries, including landing in the US in early August.
One big advantage that Instagram Reels has over other attempts, like Facebook Lasso, is that it’s contained within the platform and operates similar to how users already use the app to share Instagram Stories.
The Instagram Reels feature is accessed through Instagram’s camera function, the same way that users can currently create Boomerangs or Live videos. Users can press and hold the circle button to start recording, and then have options for their 15-second video including AR filters, speed, effects, as well as a timer.
Reels can be shared through Stories, sent as direct messages, or kept at the top of a profile as part of a user’s Reels collection, the same way that Stories can be saved past their traditional 24-hour period. To try to go viral, users can also share Reels to be discovered on the Instagram Explore page through a new feature called Top Reels.
This will be key to Instagram Reels trying to rival the popularity of TikTok, as viral trends are a big driver of continued use on that platform.
Instagram has a good history of adapting new features with success. In 2016, it launched Instagram Stories, which was very similar to Snapchat, and took a large section of Snapchat’s audience.
In fact, Stories are so much a part of the Instagram experience now that Socialbakers data shows brands post more Stories than regular posts on the platform. Could that be the future for Instagram Reels as well?It’s too early to say, but the launch comes at an opportune time as there has been a recent pushback against TikTok. A recent Socialbakers report showed that the US has by far the most users on Instagram, and soon they’re going to get a new chance to go viral.
Taylor has been with Socialbakers since 2019. As a content marketing specialist, he helps create reports, blogs, and he also hosts webinars and other live events.