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Instagram Reels May End TikTok’s Reign

It’s happened before… just a couple years ago when Snapchat held the trophy for 24-hour story content. It seemed like things were looking up for the social media platform – it was wildly popular for Snapchat users and seemed to be the key to reinvigorating the popular opinion of the platform. Then, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, and everyone jumped on the new functionality.   

With this addition of IG Stories, Instagram effectively brought Snapchat’s comeback to a halt and refreshed everyone’s view of the social platform. While Snapchat’s once favored stories faded into history, Instagram stories grew to one of the main ways to create and enjoy social media content.  

With the newest addition of Instagram Reels, Instagram is poising itself to do the same with the video app phenomenon, TikTok. TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social platforms especially among Gen Z and has been piquing the interest of companies around the world, trying to jump on the latest trend. It didn’t take long for Instagram to realize the significance of the content medium.  

Will Instagram users take to Instagram Reels the same way they did to stories? If so, this may be the end of TikTok’s reign.

Credit: Instagram

What is Instagram Reels?  

Instagram defines Instagram Reels as:

Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. 

Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. It is no secret that it is a close copy to the offerings of TikTok.   

You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.  

Instagram Reels Vs. TikTok  

Instagram reels are 15 seconds while TikToks can be up to 1 minute. This may be an interesting distinction for Instagram to make to offer less time for videos, but younger generations have short social attention spans. Most of them probably won’t miss the extra time. Looking at the top 100 most popular TikToks, the average length is 15.6 seconds. Instagram was able to play the long game, see how people started using the TikTok platform, and then optimize their offerings tailored to their audience preferences.  

TikTok and Instagram Reels have different algorithm strategies, which may be why TikTok grew so large so fast. While Instagram focuses on showing you what you have proven you like, TikTok shows you content you don’t know you like yet. That is why TikTok famous is a new popular term: you don’t need to have thousands of followers and admirers to gain a ton of reach. You can go from 0 followers to a million views with one video.   

While Instagram doesn’t take their algorithm quite so far, they did make some changes to account for new Reels discovery. They updated the explore page to prioritize Reels, where Instagram Reels does prioritize discovering new videos, people, and interests.  

Instagram reels can be public or private. For those that want to create Reels but don’t necessarily want them to be open to the public, they have the option to create private reels. These reels are only available to the Instagram followers an account accepts.   

Why is TikTok in Trouble  

TikTok has had data security controversy from the start. Because the app was developed and is owned by a Chinese company, it tends to play by a different set of rules. Many people are wary of the personal and community information that TikTok now possesses. TikTok has been accused of sharing and/or abusing account data, which may be why some are eager to jump to Instagram Reels. While Instagram itself is not the gold standard of data security, there are fewer hoops to jump through to create checks and balances for the Facebook-owned company.  

TikTok has gotten political. More recently, the president came out against the app, going as far as to offer the company an ultimatum to sell or be banned from the US. While content creators fell in love with the TikTok app and its opportunities for social clout, now that there is a viable alternative, they may not be sad go with an alternative.  

How this affects your strategy  

As with every big rollout, Instagram will prioritize this newer version of content over standard pictures and videos. You can see this in the new Instagram explore setup – Instagram Reels has prime real estate on the explore page by being the first (and only) thing you see until you scroll down. That means that the earlier you use and perfect your IG Reel strategy, the more likely your content will be showcased on prime Instagram real estate to some of Instagram’s millions of users.  

How this affects your strategy  

As with every big rollout, Instagram will prioritize this newer version of content over standard pictures and videos. You can see this in the new Instagram explore setup – Instagram Reels has prime real estate on the explore page by being the first (and only) thing you see until you scroll down. That means that the earlier you use and perfect your IG Reel strategy, the more likely your content will be showcased on prime Instagram real estate to some of Instagram’s millions of users. 

How to incorporate IG Reels in your Instagram Strategy  

Length  

Consider Instagram Reels content to be very similar to TikTok content, but with a smaller video timeframe. Create content with your viewers, business, and social platform in mind. You only have 15 seconds to create an interesting video, which is shorter than both TikTok video and IG TV video lengths. Don’t let that deter you – thanks to apps like Vine and TikTok, extremely short videos are cornerstone social content.  

Research  

Do some research before diving right in. If you aren’t familiar with what successful TikTok or Reels content looks like, you may be surprised by what content meets the threshold. Reels and TikTok content is casual and doesn’t by any means need tons of expensive planning or assets to create a great video. Many viral videos are done by Gen Z kids in their parent’s basements. Many businesses find success just filming clever videos in their office buildings.  

Editing  

Take full advantage of the music, filter, and video editing functionalities. Reels have similar filters, sound and music effects, and video editing capabilities. This gives you more freedom than ever to flex your creativity and video editing skills on the Instagram platform. To create engaging videos, you need to incorporate these functionalities in the video. If you try to reuse or recycle older video content on Reels that are made from and for a different platform, you will probably not have much luck in engaging new viewers.  

Content  

Casual, humorous, or tutorial videos are a great place to start in your journey to creating engaging reels. One thing that Instagram Reels is not made for, is sales-y video content. If you create a glorified commercial with no intrigue, you won’t get far. You can still relate your videos to your offerings without explicitly stating that is the point of your content. Like any marketing effort, you need to offer value before asking for something in return.   

Partnerships  

If you don’t want to create the content, work with influencers who will. If you just don’t have it in you to add one more type of content creation to your plate, many Instagram influencers do. You can work with individuals who will create content on your behalf that you can promote, or they will promote on their channels as well.   

  

Instagram’s newest baby is already making waves in the content creator community, and with TikTok controversy, many are already making the switch. With all the editing capabilities, filters, and functionalities Instagram Reels offers, it’s not hard to make the switch. If you’re interested in updating your social strategy, reach out to our team! 

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