Facebook’s own Instagram published its answer to the popular karaoke app TikTok on Wednesday, whose future remains in the balance.
The big picture: Facebook has a long tradition – sometimes successful, sometimes not – of taking on features that have proven popular on competing platforms and making them available to billions of users worldwide so as not to be outshone by younger newbies.
Driving news: Reels enters the fight when TikTok, threatened with a ban by President Trump because of its Chinese property, has opened negotiations for Microsoft’s takeover.
- A world in which Reels has to compete with a Microsoft-owned TikTok presents Facebook with a completely different challenge than a world in which TikTok was closed in the USA
Be smart: Reels is the first product that Instagram has developed that focuses more on developers than ordinary users. Reels̵
Details: The new product will be embedded in Instagram so that over 1 billion users of the app can access it and achieve broad acceptance.
- The product is launched in over 50 countries on Wednesday, including the United States, India, Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and others.
- It allows users to create 15-second videos Use editing tools embedded in Instagram’s camera, such as a countdown clock, a timer, and a new alignment tool that makes it easy for users to string different video cuts together.
- It will contain music from a large library of songs that Instagram recently licensed from music labels.
- Roles are different from TikTok Thanks to Instagram’s augmented reality effects that allow users to put images and filters on their videos.
Between the lines: Reels offers Instagram the opportunity to tap into a new creative community that focuses more on talent than on the beauty and aesthetic themes that dominate Instagram today.
- “We have historically not been good at helping new developers find an audience,” said Vishal Shah, vice president of product at Instagram, when calling reporters on Tuesday.
- “The problem for new developers is that roles are a great way to be discovered, even if you don’t have a follower base.”
What creators like about TikTok is that they can quickly reach a large audience if their video gains traction.
- According to Instagram, developers can share Reels videos privately with their friends and followers via direct messages or in their stories. Now, however, you also have the option of being discovered by Instagram’s large audience on the Explore tab if you want and when your accounts are made public.
- Role videos are saved in a special area on the Explore tab (Stage).
- Since Instagram doesn’t have a “share” button, it was difficult for content on Instagram to quickly go viral for many people.
Be smart: Instagram had previously launched a reels-like product called Lasso, which was later shut down. Executives told reporters when they called Wednesday that it was difficult to get a new mass adoption app – so the reason to make Reels a feature on Instagram.
Context: Executives admitted that Reels was launched at the right time as the future of TikTok in the U.S. is imminent, but said it didn’t accelerate the takeoff to take advantage of the moment.
- “It has always been part of our plan,” said Shah. “We have been working on it for over a year.”
- The timing, he says, “is random,” but it also reflects an acceleration of what users are increasingly saying they want to do on Instagram.
- “There is a lot of appetite for short, edited videos on Instagram,” said Shah.
- “We started experimenting with reels in Brazil over a year ago. Last month, 45% of the videos uploaded to the (Instagram) feed were 15 seconds or less,” he said.
Yes but: Instagram comes into play somewhat late. Several apps such as Byte, Dubsmash and Triller are already trying to convince TikTok users with similar products. And one of Instagram’s biggest rivals, Snapchat, is reportedly testing the TikTok-style design to explore content.
What’s next: At the moment, Instagram is focused on rolling out the roles and getting users to take them on. Executives say it’s not about how you can make money with reels.
- “We are experimenting with different monetization options (for developers),” said Shah, referring to various Instagram products such as Instagram shopping and IGTV. “These are early and we are still testing them.”