Instagram confirmed that it will be launching its ‘Reels’ functionality in 50 additional regions including the US as early as next month. This new feature will allow users to create and share TikTok-like clips on Instagram, without having to sign up for a new platform. Reels will be built into the Instagram app itself, and users will be able to create 15-second looping video clips, set them to music and share with their followers. The clips will live in a dedicated space on their profiles, and will be found in a separate part of the Explore tab.
The timing for this release is particularly well chosen, as TikTok has recently been the subject of heated discussions concerning its questionable handling of private information. Having already been banned by the Indian Government, TikTok creators are increasingly concerned that they could lose everything they have built overnight, and have to start from scratch on a new app. By offering Reels to its 1 billion users, Instagram is offering an alternative to an app that is now facing a precarious future.
Data from Hootsuite shows that 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. Does Reels have the potential to become the new Instagram Stories? We know that content creators on Instagram have increasingly gravitated towards Stories as they offer a multitude of ways to connect with your audience, from polls to ‘Ask Me Anything.’ Stories also usually feature more candid and spontaneous content, which users have been favoring over the more stilted in-feed posts. Reels has the potential to take this creativity and connection with the audience one step further, and present exciting out-of-the-box opportunities for branded content. We will be monitoring the launch of this timely new feature next month, and reporting back as users begin to experiment with its new capabilities.
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