While it’s hard to tell the outcome of the dilemma between Donald Trump and Tiktok in the U.S, Instagram has just rolled out an update, Reels, a recent competitor of Tiktok. It is launching in over 50 countries today and that includes US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on both iOS and Android.
Like Tiktok, the update allows users create short videos with music and it can be shared with followers and non-followers. It is Instagram’s way of gaining more users, increasing the amount of time people use while using the app and also establishing itself as a video entertainment platform.
The update allows people make videos for about 15 seconds and add music, use filters and effects of their choices. It doesn’t necessarily change the app itself and as such, both private and public options are available. If your account is public, Reels will be discovered widely, depending on how you use your account and hashtags. If your account is private, it’ll post to your feed and stories.
“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularizing formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”
That’s a well-recognized line to people that remember when Instagram 1st launched Stories in 2016, and therefore the company was accused of making a Snapchat clone. Stein said that his team received “very similar feedback when we launched Stories.” however Instagram Stories quickly surpassed Snapchat in daily users and has continued to be a massively self-made product.
Instagram’s product team is “really positioning Instagram camera around a few core formats,” according to Stein. While stories is designed as a social feature; quick little snippets people want to share with their followers. Reels is designed with entertainment in mind, an area that Instagram wants to really focus on. Part of that focus includes the redesign of Instagram’s Explore page.
More than 50 percent of people use Instagram’s Explore page in a month, Stein said, and now there’ll be a dedicated hub for Reels. This is essentially Reels’ equivalent of the “For You Page” on TikTok, a place for creators to possibly go viral or find new followers.
“We’re going big with entertainment and [making Explore] the permanent place for you to go lean back, relax, and be inspired every day,” Stein said. “It’s our hope that with this format we have a new chapter of entertainment on Instagram.”
According to TheVerge, Reels’ biggest difference from TikTok is its tie-ins to the overarching Instagram ecosystem, Stein says. People can send Reels to their friends directly on Instagram and they can use Instagram-specific AR filters and tools everything that people want to do is part of an existing network.
Instagram already allows for influencers and creators to earn revenue through brand deals and sponsored posts, but Instagram doesn’t directly pay people for content. TikTok didn’t either until very recently. The company announced last month that it’s starting a $200 million fund in the US to pay top creators for their videos. TikTok is hoping to expand that fund north of $1 billion. The message is simple: we want you to stay on TikTok and create for TikTok, and we’re going to pay you to do it. Stein had “nothing to share” for now about direct payments to creators, but he stressed that allowing people to monetize is important.
There are a few other features that Reels will not have at launch. People won’t be able to “duet” with each other a core TikTok feature that lets people interact with, build upon, and remix videos. Instagram also won’t allow people to upload songs directly into the app’s system. Musicians looking to use the app as a place to make a song go viral “can add original audio by just recording and that can live on later,” Stein said, adding that “other people could use it and remix it,” but the actual song can’t be uploaded directly. So, it’s not directly similar to Tiktok because it’d need to be updated a few more times for it to work as well as Tiktok does, it is an actual stepping stone though.