Social Media

Will Instagram ‘Reels’ takedown TikTok?

Written by Sarah Keeble

What is Reels?

Instagram announced yesterday (5th August) that it has launched ‘Reels‘; their new feature, to rival TikTok. Reels allows people to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools.

Instagram Reels

The new feature is launching in more than 50 countries, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android. For creators looking to use Instagram Reels as a new way to build a following, Instagram has revamped its Explore page to create a specific landing spot for Reels at the top of the screen, so people can explore the new content with suggestions as to which Reels content will be enjoyed — similar to TikTok’s “For You Page.”

The similarities between TikTok and Reels are huge and TikTok has pointed this out, putting Facebook in the firing line. The response from Robby Stein, Instagram’s Product Developer?

“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”

It is clear, however, that Reels and TikTok are competing for people’s attention for this format of entertainment. The carrot Instagram is dangling in front of its users is the ability to find “Insta-fame” with a new space for Reels and discoverability on the platform. A new place on the platform to be discovered. The influencer (and brand) space on Instagram is fiercely competitive and this is a chance to break through once again.

Do we think TikTok is in trouble?

We are having deja vu, as this feels surprisingly similar to when Instagram launched Stories in light of the growing popularity of Snapchat. With Instagram’s strong user base, and multiple features now in one app, many Millenials which were lured to Snapchat, reverted back to Instagram, using Stories. We can see the impact as Snapchat’s fast growth slowed and Instagram’s has only increased since the launch of Stories. The monthly active users for Instagram as of July 2020 is 1,080 million, compared to Snapchat’s 397 million. It’s a definite possibility that the same could occur with TikTok’s growth slowing.

Moreover, TikTok is facing the possibility of being banned in the USA which will certainly not help its position to take a bigger slice of the Social Media pie.

Instagram Reels - phone interface

That being said, it is worth noting that TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance which has not only strong financial backing but also has experience operating in the digitally competitive Chinese market with Douyin.

There are also a few features that TikTok has over Reels (at first anyway):

– People won’t be able to “duet” with each other — a core TikTok feature that lets people interact with, build upon, and remix videos.

– People won’t be able to upload songs/ sounds directly into the app’s system. Musicians “can add original audio by just recording and that can live on later,” Stein said, adding that “other people could use it and remix it,” but the actual song can’t be uploaded directly.

– TikTok is (more recently) paying its content creators directly for top-performing content.

So what is the verdict?

If TikTok is banned in the USA, then we think Instagram/Facebook could just succeed once again in diverting people back towards their platform. The competition is fierce and the inability to use the platform in the USA would be a major set back. Provided they can still operate in the USA, then we think TikTok has a great chance of successfully maintaining its position. In many ways, Instagram Reels without the TikTok’s algorithm just feels like IGTV but with different ways to edit the content. The reason people have loved TikTok so much goes back to the discoverability of content, with any size audience; not because of how it looks, sounds, or the fact you can do silly dances without being judged.

Similar to most social media features, influencers and content creators will be the first jump on this new feature in the race to gain exposure. This feature is made for people to entertain. Brands should look to explore the feature through influencers and content creators OR if they have a Founder who is digitally active on Instagram. This feature is made for personality and influencers naturally have plenty of this.

Founder of VERB, Chris Donnelly also ran a poll on his LinkedIn. See the results.

Get in touch should you want to learn more.