Instagram Reels, a short-form video format on Instagram, was rolled out in the US earlier this summer by parent company Facebook. Reels is Facebook’s attempt to compete with TikTok, a platform owned by Chinese-based ByteDance. Reels allows Instagram users to record and edit short-form videos with audio and music soundtracks.
While Facebook started testing Reels in Brazil in 2019, the US debut came at a convenient time when TikTok had the threat of being banned in the US.
TikTok’s most recent partnership deal with Oracle and Walmart has ensured the app will remain active in the US - at least for now. Regardless of TikTok’s fate, it is always exciting to see new features coming to Instagram to help brands grow their business in creative ways.
Reels videos are currently limited to 15 seconds, while TikTok videos can extend to 60 seconds. Instagram says Reels will differ from TikTok in giving users a more built-out augmented reality platform, as well as offering users a way to make short-form videos inside the Instagram platform. Reels falls short to TikTok on its editing features, like song recommendations, automatic clip trimming and artificial intelligence.
Covid-19 stay-at-home orders certainly worked to TikTok’s advantage. During March 2020 alone, the app saw more than 115.2 million installs. Despite its surge in popularity, Instagram still has a larger audience and is considered the leading app in influencer marketing.
It is also worth noting that while both apps are comparable in age demographics, geographically they are different. Out of Instagrams 1.8 billion users, the US leads with the highest representation at 12%. In comparison, India and Brazil account for the majority of TikTok downloads, with the US only representing 3%.
Regardless of your current TikTok presence, the introduction of Reels will (should) impact your Instagram strategy. Reels are mixed within a user's Instagram feed. Therefore, as users are mindlessly scrolling through content, your static photos are now going to be sandwiched between very cool videos. In order to be “thumb-stopping”, it is time to level up your social content.
Consider using Reels to collaborate with influencers, start a new challenge, showcase your products in use and test content effectiveness. The presence of TikTok and Reels makes it clear that video should be an important piece of your content strategy.
While setting a plan is critical to success, remember that your strategy is living and breathing, so expect to pivot.
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