Who knew this would happen? Instagram has announced the launch of “Reels“, a TikTok challenger function on its platform, which launched across 50 countries on Wednesday.
The expansion means Reels will now be available in key international markets, such as India, Brazil, France, UK & Japan amongst many others. We don’t think it’s active in Thailand just yet, at least not for us.
It’s good timing for them to test it out, since Chinese born TikTok is currently either facing deportation from the US or being forced to sell its US unit to Microsoft. Either way, the Bytedance owned social media app has been under much scrutiny for some time, possibly opening up a slight gap for Facebook to come in and play.
In late 2018, Facebook launched a TikTok clone called Lasso. The app didn’t take off and was shuttered this year. However, Facebook is big enough to launch large scale products as product experiments, collect user behavioural data and then just improve the kinks for the next launch; this seems to be what they have done here with Reels.
When opening Instagram to make a Reel, people will be able to slide to a new section of the camera that comes with an assortment of tools. Reels can be recorded either all at once or as a series of clips, or people can upload videos from their photo gallery. That’s the key; it’s not a separate platform.
“We’re going big with entertainment and [making Explore] the permanent place for you to go lean back, relax, and be inspired every day. It’s our hope that with this format we have a new chapter of entertainment on Instagram,” said Robby Stein, Product Director at Instagram.
Instagram’s Reach: The Ecosystem
Instagram had 1 billion active monthly users back in 2018 and has since enjoyed a global community of content creators, selfie lovers and edgy coffee shop hoppers (and of course, news platforms ahem), but they haven’t quite captured the Gen Z demographic, who have mainly settled down with TikTok.
This is Facebook’s direct attempt to lure some of them to Instagram, where the Gen Z’s older siblings might roam.
The key difference between Reels and TikTok? Reels can leverage off Instagram’s vast ecosystem. Users can send Reels to their friends directly on Instagram and they can use Instagram-specific AR filters and tools.
Basically, Instagram wants you to see Reels as just another format on its platform.