Thomas Mangan
August 10, 2020

Instagram Reels is released globally challenging a struggling TikTok

Instagram Reels are short 15 second videos that have heaps of creative editing potential. The new feature looks positioned to blow TikTok out of the water; who are currently on the back foot facing a potential ban in the US due to data privacy concerns.
It’s a great move for the ‘Gram that gives its loyal user base even more ways to post and stay active on the app. There are already so many dedicated content creators on Instagram with active audiences that empowering their creativity will only grow engagement.

More than a Tik Tok clone

It can be easy to dismiss Instagram’s move as simply copying TikTok’s format. Similar accusations came when Instagram introduced their Stories feature back in 2016 as they were very similar to Snapchat.
However in an interview Robby Stein, Instagram's product director, said: “I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularising formats in this space, and it’s just great work, but at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”
With an existing user base, great editing tools such as stickers and AR effects and new features still to be released it looks like Reel will soon surpass TikTok’s reach.
Makeup transformations and other TikTok trends are already transferring onto Reels.\

How to use Instagram Reels

Makeup transformations and other TikTok trends are already transferring onto Reels.
Reels view inside the Instagram camera. 
Right away you can see the four options on the left. 
  • Add music: You can browse Instagram’s music library, choose what part of the song and where it will feature in the video.
  • Change the speed of the video: Speeding it up or slowing it down for those slo-mo action shots. 
  • Add effects: This gives you an amazing number of AR effects to add to your Reel, scrolling all the way to the right will let you browse even more! 
  • Timer: Editing the total length of the clip and giving you a timer before the recording starts, so you can throw your best dance moves without worrying about pressing the record button. 
  • Align: This cool feature shows a transparent image of where you last finished recording. This allows you to line up transitions for instant costume changes and other video trickery. Something that was much harder to do on TikTok. 
Once your Reel vid is ready to go, you can choose where to share it on your profile. It will be displayed on a separate tab next to your IGTV videos. It can also be shared directly on your feed, or through your stories.
If your account is public, your Reel will appear on a dedicated place at the top of the Explore tab, along with everyone else’s Reels. This can be a great way to gain new followers to your profile. While browsing this page users scroll vertically through all the available videos, kind of like the “For you” tab on TikTok.
Like all new features on Instagram, playing around with the new tool and a bit creativity, will show what is possible. It’s exciting to see what people will make with it.

How will marketers benefit from Reel?

Reels are displayed at the top of the explore tab and can be posted to your feed. Source Instagram.
It’s still early days of course, but the impact of this new feature will likely bring even more users to the platform. Instagram already has over 1 billion active users each month, so being able to target Reel users on this platform will be a massive benefit to companies looking to reach the 18-24 and 25-34 age brackets.
However, it might be some time before it is a viable marketing channel. We all know that videos are dominating social media platforms but considering the strength of in-feed videos and Instagram stories, it will take a while for Reels to surpass them from a branding and marketing perspective.
Even if we compare Reels to TikTok, while TikTok is a fun and engaging app, it isn’t a first priority when it comes to making content or ads for a brand given its unpredictability and younger demographic. Depending on Instagram’s algorithm with Reels, I think brands will feel safer sticking with video formats and placements they know will perform well, at least in the early stages.
Still, short-form video is the top performing content at the moment. We’ve seen 6-15 second videos that get the message across in the first 1-3 seconds perform the best in recent times. Instagram stories are the go-to short video platform for now, the ability to reshare user generated content, show behind the scenes and sneak peek footage, and to engage with users via interactive polls or stickers, make them very powerful for a marketer.
Another major feature of course is the powerful Facebook Ads manager, that also works on IG. Rather than relying on TikTok’s own newly built ad service that is still quite limiting. Ads are currently not displayed on Reels, and there are no options to boost content on the explore tab as Instagram seems to be focusing on building a community first, but it will be interesting to see how they choose to include ads in the future.

It’s all REELy exciting!

I’m surprised I got this far without a reely bad pun… but in all honesty, it is great to see Instagram adding fresh new features to their app. The platform already has so many avenues for expressing creative visuals and the newest feature only confirms that we should all be working with video more moving forward.
Instagram Stories took some of the polished edge from social media posts and allowed us a more genuine and relaxed experience online. Reels will continue this trend giving users the ability to make fun edits to their stories in a natural and intuitive way.
So go and have fun with it and we’ll see what new trends emerge along the way. If you find any cool tips or tricks be sure to let us know in the comments, and as always if you need help with building your brand on social media get in touch with us here.

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