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Instagram Reels Roll-On

What's The Real Deal With Reels?

After a much-vaunted launch, we are now several weeks into Instagram’s TikTok clone, Reels, and to say it’s a mixed bag wouldn’t be an understatement.

While the reaction from users and influencers has been lukewarm, there are definitely reasons for optimism for the fledgling feature.

Within days of the feature launching, a snap survey of influencers, managed by UK-based generation Z agency, Fanbytes, claimed that 75% of TikTok creators wouldn’t move to Reels.

They cite a number of issues, including:

  • Maximum video duration of 15 seconds is too short
  • Not enough democracy of exposure for all creators
  • No monetisation

However, users are happier with Instagram’s offering. The Street reported that US respondents were engaged with Reels:

  • 32% had used Reels since it launched
  • Among those 32%, nearly half used it daily while 24.2% use it more than twice
  • 83% of respondents said they’re likely or very likely to use Reels in the future
  • 55.3% said they’re primarily engaging with Reels via the Explore tab
  • 44% said they’re engaging with Reels via the main feed.
  • However, nearly half said they still prefer to use other platforms

While Reels has been slow to get off the ground, it could still provide Instagram and their blue-chip content creators with a serious boost.

For example, one video shared by Selena Gomez coined nearly 62 million views – dwarfing her 17.2 million views she earned through IGTV. 

Brent Thill, Jefferies analyst via The Street

“We would argue that there are many examples in which Reels posts are earning 5-10x the views of what a typical video post for that same account would receive on Instagram.

This would seem to suggest that Reels posts are providing incremental engagement to users' profiles.”

It could work for Facebook, too. Thill reckons it could provide a 2.5 billion-plus annual boost to Facebook’s 2022 revenue, and be a similar success to Instagram Stories.

Like TikTok, But Not 

TikTok came out of nowhere, reinvented the wheel by being a better Vine than Vine could ever be, grabbed a whole load of features off Instagram and beat them at their own game.

Now Facebook has kicked back by launching their own efforts at short-term video content creation.

Instagram Reels has been launched in 50 countries across the world, including the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Brazil, India, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Argentina and a whole host of others.

Just like TikTok, Reels allows users to publish short videos using various editing tools such as AR, a timer, an align tool and music. One of the aces up Reel’s sleeve is Instagram’s deal with various big record labels, which removes any concerns over copyright violations and gives creators a lot more to play with.

Reels has a fairly high ease of use. It’s built into the Instagram Camera, right next to the Stories option and unfinished Reels can be saved as a draft. You can use hashtags, tag your friends, publish to stories or send as DMs.

Instagram’s Reel Pipeline

Instagram Reels launches just as Donald Trump’s administration is considering taking legal action against TikTok, either banning it or forcing them to sell off their US operations.

Instagram have been working on something like this for a while. In 2018, Facebook (who own Instagram), had their first crack at it as they launched something called Lasso. It flopped and was binned in 2020, but that didn’t really matter.

Facebook essentially used it as one big beta test as they collected the data that will allow them to challenge TikTok in the future, through a different medium. That medium could be Instagram Reels.

Reels was released in Brazil in 2019, which tested how Instagram users responded to the changes. These tests slowly expanded to include India and areas of Europe in 2020 as Instagram plan to steal users from TikTok and mop up their remains if Trump bans the app.

How Is Reels Developing Now It’s Live?

Some Indian users are seeing a dedicated Reels tab on the function bar, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri recently tweeted:

“Today we're launching a separate tab for Reels in India given the momentum we're seeing in the country."

TikTok has been banned in India, and their 200 million users need to go somewhere. That wave of users could be the momentum Mosseri referenced.

The dedicated tab has also appeared for some users in Europe. Germany is one of the three nations where Reels was officially launched, and it appears as if Instagram are rolling out the Reels tab across those countries.

Another live development is the appearance of suggested Reels in the main feed of some users, which Instagram inserted between posts from users you follow.

Most of the features for Reel seem to be directly ripped from TikTok, so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Reels definitely needs some improvement and there are legitimate concerns over the feature, but with the might of Facebook behind it and the wrath of the US bearing down on TikTok, you can’t write Reels off.

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