If you’re one of the 1 billion users of Instagram, you may have noticed in the past few days that they’ve launched a direct copy- ahem competitor to the also wildly popular social media app, TikTok.
Reels, the name of IG’s latest feature, seeks to provide users with a very TikTok-like experience, right in the comfort of the same app.
In short: Reels gives users the option to create 15 second looping videos, with plenty of customization features to make them stand out.
But just what are the differences, if any, between the two platforms, and who is better posed to succeed longterm? Is this destined to be the next evolution of Stories?
Lets take a look at a few of the key differences that’s currently setting the two competitors apart.
Perhaps the biggest differentiator, and the most obvious one, is where the features are hosted.
TikTok is a standalone app, with a comparable audience size of over 800 million users worldwide. Users can watch and browse TikToks without an account, but will need one to create and share their own videos.
Reels on the otherhand, is a native feature of Instagram. Which just means that you need an existing IG account in order to use it. While not a big barrier for Reels, it does provide the benefit to people who already have a large audience on Instagram to get views and engagement on their Reels straight away.
Another noticable difference between the two features, is the time limits set on the videos you can create and share.
TikTok has recently extended the time limit on their videos to 60 seconds, while Reels is currently limiting videos at 15 seconds.
Only time will tell if Instagram will follow suit and extend their length, even though it appears that longer videos are gaining more and more popularity since the original Vine era.
Let’s be honest, many of the features between the two platforms are exactly the same.
From the timer, to making cuts, to adding licensed as well as original audio and music.
Instagram apparently has done so to make users, especially those migrating from TikTok, familiar right away with how to use the feature, potentially generating more usage.
One thing Reels has going for it that’s unique, however, is it’s incorporation of filters that have been made popular by Stories. Both custom and user created filters are available to add a little extra flair to your Reels.
Benefits of TikTok
Over the past few years, TikTok has skyrocketed as a standalone social media app and has practically created its own culture on the internet, specifically for the younger generation at first, but now people of all ages and backgrounds have found a home and their voice on TikTok.
What was once Vines domain, it’s going to be tough to associate the short, clippy videos with anything other than TikTok.
And unlike Instagram, TikTok knows what they are, and aren’t (yet anyways) trying to do too much with their platform and jam too many features in. Hell, they’ve just recently introduced an advertising platform for brands and creators to monetize off of, though it’s still in its early stages.
Benefits of Reels
The biggest benefit we can see, so far, from Reels, is that it will undoubtedly gain a massive user base simply because it’s a native feature from Instagram.
Users will feel compelled to at least try the function because they’re seeing their friends and influencers do the same. Users who already have an audience will have just another outlet on the app to push out their content, which will be a win for content creators and brands alike.
Lastly, like all things Facebook, Reels is polished, easy to use, and pretty damn fun. Ignore the fact that it’s basically a carbon copy of TikTok and you have a very solid feature, whose potential could be through the roof.
A lot is up in the air right now. With the US potentially banning TikTok, Reels could be primed to suck up a large portion of that user base, along with any other similar apps to follow.
However, if that doesn’t happen, and TikTok Spokespersons are confident that “they’re not planning on going anywhere” it will be tough for the Instagram feature to beat out the overall culture, community, and uniqueness that TikTok has built over the past few years.
For those who have been on Instagram for a while, you may remember their past “innovation” with the Stories feature. This feature was a massive success when it hit Instagram and seemed to immediately drive users off of Snapchat (where the feature originated) and back onto the social media giant.
Will Reels be enough to do the same? A feature can be replicated, but can an entire ecosystem be?
We’ll just have to wait and watch.