Will Instagram Reels Dethrone TikTok?

Instagram Reels

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If, like me, you’re obsessed with Instagram, then you might have heard about their latest feature. First launched in Brazil back in November, now available in France, Germany, and India, and soon to rollout across fifty more countries, Instagram Reels looks like Instagram’s response to TikTok’s growing popularity.

Instagram Reels is built into the Instagram app and will be available to all users. It allows users to create fifteen second videos set to music or user-created audio.

Sound familiar? On the surface this appears to be a near carbon copy of TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok, for anyone not familiar with it, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and launched worldwide in August 2018 after merging with Musical.ly. It allows users to create fifteen second videos set to music or user-created audio. Videos up to one minute in length can be created outside the app and uploaded. Initially popular with teenagers, TikTok’s audience has been growing rapidly and it now has over 800 million active users.

TikTok has spent much of the past year as the most downloaded app on both iPhone and Android but its success hasn’t been without controversy. On 29th June 2020, TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps, was banned in India amidst allegations of personal data being shared with the Chinese government, as well as mounting tensions between the two countries.

India isn’t the only country with security concerns when it comes to TikTok. On Friday (31st July), Donald Trump announced he intends to ban TikTok in the USA and Australian intelligence agencies are also in the process of investigating the app.

TikTok maintains that user data is stored in the US and Singapore. It’s worth noting that the Chinese version of TikTok is called Douyin and is actually a separate app, with its data being stored on different servers to TikTok.

What Are The Differences Between TikTok And Instagram Reels?

Being based in the UK, we haven’t had a chance to try out Instagram Reels yet. From the available information, it appears that the differences are few and far between. Instagram Reels have a time limit of fifteen seconds, while TikToks can be up to one minute long.

It also remains to be seen how the audio library for Instagram Reels will compare to TikTok’s audio library. Facebook has confirmed that licensed music will be available for use in Instagram Reels as well as users being able to create their own sounds so it seems like it will be a similar offering.

Where Will You Find Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels can be shared to your story or saved on a new Reels tab on your profile. There will also be a new tab on the Explore page where Top Reels will be showcased, similar to TikTok’s For You Page.

So Could Instagram Reels Steal TikTok’s Crown?

It’s certainly possible. The fact that Instagram Reels already has an existing user base will definitely work in their favour. Recent months have seen an increasing number of 25-34 year olds signing up for TikTok. Fortunately for Instagram, 25-34 year olds are their largest demographic so if they can be tempted to use Reels rather than TikTok, that could cement Instagram’s success for years to come.

It’s no surprise that Instagram is keen to jump on this trend. Back in August 2016, Instagram launched Stories. At this point, Stories seem synonymous with Instagram, but let’s not forget that it was Snapchat which first popularised the format. Snapchat now has approximately 360 million active users, which pales in comparison to Instagram’s one billion plus.

It’s worth mentioning that Instagram Reels is not the only TikTok competitor on the market. At the time of writing, relatively new apps Triller and Byte occupied the top two spaces in the App Store. Both apps have similarities to TikTok, allowing users to create short videos.

Interestingly, Reels is not Facebook’s first attempt at a TikTok rival. In 2018, Facebook launched Lasso, a standalone app for short-form video content. Lasso didn’t take off, racking up only 600,000 downloads in its lifetime before being shut down last month.

At present, Instagram has not announced a specific launch date for Instagram Reels in the UK, USA, or other countries, simply saying that the feature will launch in early August. If the USA goes ahead with its TikTok ban, this could be perfect timing for Instagram.

Bans in both India and the USA would be a massive blow to TikTok, costing them hundreds of millions of users. Despite this, TikTok’s stronghold in China will likely continue as Instagram, along with many other Western apps, is banned. There has also been talk of Microsoft taking over TikTok’s US operations, which could potentially help them to avoid a ban.

Regardless of what happens with TikTok, it’s likely that Instagram Reels will be a success. Instagram has over one billion active users and continues to go from strength to strength. Their decision to roll out Reels to over fifty countries suggests that initial trials have been successful and they’re confident that the new feature will become an integral part of Instagram, much like Stories.

Will you be trying out Instagram Reels? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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