Facebook recently launched a feature on Instagram that is being compared to TikTok’s video creating and sharing app. That feature is Reels and the response has been lukewarm, so far, as veteran TikTokers and Instagram influencers explore its possibilities.
Why Is Facebook Launching Reels?
Facebook began rolling out Reels more than a year ago, just as TikTok’s popularity began to surge and the demographic shifted away from Gen-Z’s to Millennials being the majority of avid users. Since Millennials are the largest consumer market, TikTok has become attractive for advertisers.
Based on the latest data, it’s unsurprising that Facebook is trying to replicate TikTok’s most popular features and attempt to gain a foothold in regions where TikTok is not dominating, like Brazil, and where it has been banned, India.
While Reels has been rolling out for a year and improving based upon user feedback, the timing of its release in the United States was strategic.
With the future of TikTok uncertain with President Trump threatening to ban the app and the parent company being bought by Oracle, Facebook decided to make Reels available in the US.
Instead of excitement about being able to create and share short videos that stay beyond 24 hours that aren’t long format IGTV, some brands find limitations that have them going back to TikTok to create and share their videos.
SO if it’s not the new TikTok, what exactly is Reels?
What Exactly Is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels is a new way to create entertaining and engaging video content that is available in about 50 countries (sorry Canada, not yet) and has recently been launched in the US.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Reels is not a competitor of TikTok. It’s an Instagram feature designed to improve IGs user experience not a standalone app . There. Now that we’ve addressed what it isn’t, let’s talk about what exactly Reels is.
Reels lives inside Instagram your profile and Explore. Like TikTok, Reels allows you to upload, combine video clips, edit them, add copyright music, and stickers to create 3 to 30 second long videos (TikTok now allows up to 60 seconds) and share them with your audience.
When you share your Reels in your feed and to Explore, your reels will live in your profile gallery and on the Explore page. However, if you only upload or post your Reels to your Story, they will be treated like any other story and will disappear after 24 hours.
Although marketing with Reels is not going to make you “Instafamous,” they are more effective for increasing brand awareness and expanding reach than the ultrashort lifespan videos you post in your Story. And are more fun and quicker to create than long-form IGTV videos.
To learn how to create a Reel, read Create An Instagram Reel In 7 Easy Steps.
Similar to TikTok’s ‘For You’ page, you can find and watch Reels in your Instagram Explore page. At this point, Reels are not fed to you in a vertical scroll format. Instead, they are interspersed with other posts that can be filtered with hashtags, keywords, and so on.
A Reels tab in your main navigation bar is coming, so look for it. This will make Reels easy to access for users which will help you reach more people when using it in your social media marketing strategy. Until then, you will only see Reels from accounts you already follow or clips that Instagram has tagged as “Featured,” unless you search.
Business Accounts Cannot Use Copyrighted Music or Sounds In Reels
If you are adding music to your Reel, due to copyright laws (IG is currently trying to reach an agreement with third parties), business accounts can only use original sound and music on their Reels.
This limitation in Reels is a definite minus when trying to create trending, fun, and engaging videos similar to what you can post on TikTok.
TikTok had third party agreements in place from its Musica.li days. Because all content created and shared in the app has the TikTok logo watermark embedded, all copyrighted content is protected. Perhaps IG can do the same.
Editing In Reels Is Not Automatic Or Intuitive
Editing multiple clips into one smooth video in Reels is not automatic, like it is in TikTok.
With TikTok, you can snag as many clips as you want, pick music or accept the suggestions the app makes, hit sound sync and auto sync. The app will automatically select highlights from each video and edit so they are perfectly in sync with the beat of whatever sound or song you choose.
Whereas in Reels, each clip has to be manually edited as it is added and you have to manually place the music where you want it. Once another clip is added, you cannot go back and edit the previous clips in Reels.
While editing and trimming improvements are in the works, if you are creating a multi-clip video with synced music or sounds, it is best to edit your video outside IG and upload it.
For a detailed explanation of Reels, read Introducing Instagram Reels.
Reels Is Still A Valuable Marketing Tool
While Reels isn’t Facebook’s version of TikTok, at least not yet, it is still a valuable tool for engaging with your audience, building brand awareness, and increasing conversions. Brands can use them to promote a new product or service, share promotions, and make authentic personal connections by sharing their story in short videos that last beyond 24 hours.
It may be a failed attempt to compete with TikTok and bring TikTok marketers into the Instagram fold as countries ban it because of its nefarious data mining efforts. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable for brands and influencers marketing on Instagram.
To learn how to use Reels for business, read Where Does Reels Fit Into Your Social Marketing Strategy?