Yesterday, Kenyan Bulletin published that Facebook-owned Instagram had launched a TikTok clone called Insta Reels.
This has proven that Mark Zuckerberg’s apps are Kings in the copycat world. FB is literally cloning all of its competitors.
Instagram, which was once known for its simplicity, has become too cluttered and complicated as Facebook keeps stuffing it with new features to fight off competitors.
Hey everyone, it’s Sarah Frier. On Friday, my mother texted, asking me to call her. While she was trying to post a photo, Facebook asked if she meant for it to go on her “Stories,” or on her “Feed.” Both terms meant nothing to her, and she didn’t want to mess up.
“The ‘Feed’ is the main thing you think of when you think of Facebook, so that’s what you want,” I told her. When I explained what “Stories” was, my mom said she thought that was an Instagram thing — the disappearing posts thing they copied from Snapchat. True, I said, but Facebook did it too a few months later.
She’s right to be confused. I thought of her this week when Instagram launched a TikTok clone called Reels in its app. I imagined another phone call: You probably want to post to your Feed by hitting the “plus” on the main screen, but if you swipe over to one side, you can also post to your Story, which disappears within 24 hours, or your Reels, which show up on the Explore page but also in your profile. If you wanted to do video but didn’t want to use Reels, you could use Live, post it to IGTV, or on your main feed, but the main feed has a time limit. Also, you could post videos to your Close Friends category, or everyone who follows you, or people you individually select. If you want Stories to last longer than 24 hours, you could add them to your Highlights…
I would hang up on me. Instagram has officially become too complicated — even more complicated than Facebook — when it comes to deciding where and how to post. Instagram rose to prominence because it was the best, simplest way to share a photo via smartphones. The founders for years resisted major changes to the app, even after it was acquired by Facebook Inc. in 2012, to preserve this ease of use.
But Instagram has something valuable that Facebook doesn’t: a young, trendsetting audience. That makes it an irresistible venue for striking blows against competitors. For Snapchat, Instagram has Stories. For YouTube, there’s IGTV, and for TikTok, there’s now Reels, which works almost exactly the same way as the popular but controversial video app.
Through a lot of copycatting trial and error, the company has found that any new product that isn’t wrapped into either Facebook or Instagram’s network usually fails to get traction. That’s right. (Did you use Poke? Bolt? Slingshot? Lasso? Exactly.) Wrapping Reels within Instagram is the only way to guarantee at least a few hundred million people will use it fast enough to weaken TikTok at vulnerable moment.
Instagram still calls simplicity one of its core values. But Facebook’s top priority is dominance, and it’s Instagram’s job to help Facebook get there. Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, says the app needs to evolve to keep growing. “A product that is simple but that no one uses because it’s irrelevant doesn’t matter.”
A product that is complicated can also alienate those same users, though. Reels has only been out for a couple days, but much of the content so far is reposted TikTok videos — not really evidence that it’s increasing anyone’s affinity for Instagram.–