The new Instagram feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, visual effects etc and also allowing users to share Reels with followers on Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore.
According to Facebook, the parent owner of Instagram, the Reels(short vids) can also be shared in the Insta Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.
The Reels option will be available in the Instagram app. The company has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this year.
Facebook’s Instagram “Story” feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, was cloned to compete Snapchat.
On July 29th this year, this habit of cloning competitors landed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a bowl of hot soup when he was slapped with tough questioning about the company’s habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing.
In 2018, Facebook had launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso but was later closed down after a few months. Facebook has also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on.
In fact, copying Snapchat’s features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users. They were already comfortable with Instagram.
But TikTok is very easy to use ― easier than Instagram ― and part of its appeal is that you’re able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything.
For Reels to succeed, Facebook will have to lure video creators away from TikTok. This might be easier to do with Reels since many creators are already on Instagram.
The Wall Street Journal had published reports that Instagram is paying TikTok influencers to join Reels. In their response, Instagram said that the company “have a long history of reaching out to emerging creators and working to break new stars on Instagram.”
“As with previous products, we remain committed to investing in both our creators and their overall experience, and in certain cases, we may help cover production costs for their creative ideas,” the company said.
In what looks like a counter attack, TikTok, in turn, launched a $200 million “creator fund” in July that it says will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. in the next three years and more than double that globally, to pay video creators for their material.
TikTok, however, is under fire, possibly opening an opportunity for Facebook.
Microsoft is in talks to buy part of TikTok in what would be a forced sale, following threats from President Donald Trump to ban the Chinese-owned video app, which claims 100 million U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.
Reels is debuting in over 50 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Australia and others, as well as officially launching in the test countries — Brazil, France, Germany and India.
Instagram has more than a billion users worldwide. TikTok says it has 100 million users in the U.S. and hundreds of millions globally.