Instagram Reels is a new feature of Instagram that lets users record 15-second video clips on set music, trends or challenges and share them as stories. Just like TikTok, Reels lets user borrow music from the vast library available or even pick up soundtracks from someone else’s story to create their own version.
Instagram Reels was first launched in Brazil by the name Cenas in November 2019. Brazil has a big Instagram population, a deeply musical culture and a thriving creator community which potentially helped Instagram nail down its customisation and onboarding strategy. Additionally, unlike India, Brazil wasn’t completely obsessed with TikTok which provided a gateway for Instagram Reels to gain audience and popularity. Instagram used this internalisation strategy to make stories a hit in places where TikTok and Snapchat were not big yet and it worked well for the company.
Soon after Brazil, Reels was launched in Germany and France making India the fourth country to have the feature available.
45% videos on Instagram are already 15-seconds or less, thereby, making it lucrative for users to use Reels instead of just stories or IG TV. In addition to sharing the videos on Instagram Feed, Instagram Reels enables users to also share videos on Explore to reach out to people outside of regular followers where the videos can stay for longer.
Instagram has not started any monetisation on Reels yet. The company has, however, partnered with many music labels in the country like Yash Raj Films, Zee Music Company and T-Series to make available a plethora of songs to users to create interesting and creative stories.
Officially, the feature is still in its experimental stage making it confusing for users whether to spend their energies on it or not, especially since Facebook is largely known for scrapping its products quickly in case they don’t work.
With this new feature added, there are five ways you can now create videos on Instagram – live video, a video within the story, a long IGTV video, a normal video on Instagram feed, and now Reels. Reels does not provide any new feature that wasn’t already available for you to create and share such videos on Instagram already. But with TikTok banned in India, all the TikTokers are now jumping the gun to use this feature which may make it a hit in the country.
With multiple types of content being shared on Instagram – posts, videos, stories, IGTV, and Reels – the app is about to get messy and chaotic to assimilate and share content. The fun and frivolous content of Reels may also dilute the interest of users that were on the platform for arty and aesthetic content that Instagram was originally built for. There’s no clear word on the algorithm used by Reels for the content’s reach. In such a scenario, fresh users creating an account may find their content buried for long as compared to existing users who already enjoy some reach.
Instagram Reels is not a direct competition to TikTok because it is not a standalone app. The actual clone of TikTok was Lasso by Facebook which is unfortunately shutting down soon.
Now that the lockdown is over and people have lesser free tine at hand, it is going to be an uphill task for Instagram Reels to gain as much popularity as TikTok in India. But it is not impossible either. With TikTok now banned and with no signs of it coming back, users will actively turn to Reels to satiate their content buds. It may, afterall, be a golden opportunity.