Instagram Reels: Facebook’s Contender to Dethrone TikTok

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Instagram Reels for real? Yes, it’s as if the app doesn’t have enough features (Instagram Stories, IGTV, Guides, Shop) that they’ve decided to add one more that sort of conflicts with the functionality of their Stories.

Instagram Reels was launched in the United States and over 50 other countries on August 5, 2020. And though it might sound like a new feature that is still on a test, Reels has been rolling out already in Brazil (it’s where TikTok doesn’t have a strong presence) since November 2019. But, what really is Instagram Reels? Is it true that it’s Facebook’s 2nd attempt to put an end to TikTok’s global dominion?

To answer the second question – yes, it’s true; their first bet was Lasso, which was shut down in July 2020 so Facebook can go all out with Instagram Reels, their second TikTok clone.

What is Instagram Reels?

Photo by Instagram

Similar to TikTok, Reels works on a short-form video content format that enables Instagram users to create and share fun videos with their friends or with anyone on the platform. And users can share a Reels video to the Explore page, their Feed, or their Stories.

However, unlike TikTok, Reels is not a stand-alone application; it is a new feature on Instagram that allows users to record and edit a 15-second video with audio, text, and other creative effects with its editing tools.

Sounds exactly like TikTok, right? Well, there are stark similarities because if not, then, it wouldn’t be coined as TikTok’s “copycat.” However, aside from being just a feature on Instagram, Reels also has its fair share of differences. Let’s learn more about the details below.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

At their core, Instagram Reels and TikTok are similar – to provide an outlet for users to express their creativity and share short videos. And with their editing options, users can spice up their reel using either of the tools and use their original content for social media marketing.

Nevertheless, there are also significant differences, as shown below:

Instagram Reels TikTok

- It’s a new feature that lives inside Instagram - It is a stand-alone application

- The maximum length of videos is up to 15 seconds - A TikTok video can be as long as 1


- Reels videos on Instagram Stories disappear after - All videos stay on TikTok

24 hours

- Users can’t upload local files, and duets are not - Users can “duet” with each other

yet supported and they can upload songs straight

into the app

- Only users with an Instagram account can watch - Videos are not only limited to

Reels videos TikTok users

Moreover, the amount of time that a user would consume in creating and posting videos on Reels is longer with that of TikTok. And one of the reasons for this starts with the accessibility of this new feature on Instagram.

How to Use Reels?

Photo by Instagram

There are two ways to access Reels: you can open your Instagram Stories camera located at the top of the screen and choose Reels or you can go to the Explore page, open someone’s reel before tapping the camera to start making your clip.

Creating a Reel

Once you are on the Reels screen, you can see four editing tools on the left side to help you create your reel. These tools include the audio, AR effects, timer and countdown, align, and speed buttons. Follow the steps below to create your first reel:

Step 1: Tap the Reels icon at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2: To prepare for your recording, tap the Audio icon (the first icon) on the left side, and choose the audio that you will use for your video. You also have the option to select only a portion of the audio for your reel.

Continue by tapping on the Speed (2nd) icon to adjust the speed of your video, tapping on Effects (3rd), and Timer (4th) to add special effects and set the length of your video, respectively.

Step 3: When you are ready to record a clip, just click on the record button. And while you are recording, you can click on the record button to end the clip and tap it again to start a new one. Then, the Align button (5th) will appear enabling you to create seamless transitions by lining up objects from previous clips before recording a new clip.

If you want to watch, cut a portion, or delete the previous clip, simply click on the back button.

Step 4: Once you are satisfied with your reel, you can then proceed to add drawings, stickers, and text.

Sharing a Reel

Photo by Instagram

Users have the option to either share a reel just with their followers or with anyone in the Instagram community. Moreover, users can save their clip as drafts if they don’t want to publish it right away.

If you have a public account, you can share your Reels to a dedicated space in the Explore section or you can post it to the Reels tab on your Feed. Also, when you share a reel featuring certain songs, hashtags, or effects, your reel may appear on dedicated pages when someone clicks on that hashtag, song, or effect.

On the other hand, if you have a private account, Reels follow the privacy settings on Instagram. So, your followers can’t share your reel with other users who are not following you, and they can’t also use the original audio from your clip.

Instagram Reels on a Marketer’s Perspective

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

If you are a marketer or a business owner, you shouldn’t be bothered with the launching of this 2nd TikTok clone. Let these social media giants compete, and just enjoy the benefits that you can get from their healthy competition.

At the end of the day, Instagram and TikTok are two separate platforms where you can invest your time and money to advance your business agenda. And for now, if you want to maximize your time and expand your presence on Instagram, you’ve got to experiment with Reels, explore what you can share with your audience, and evaluate the data that you will gather.

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