Like TikTok, videos created using Reels can only be 15 seconds long, but also like TikTok several can be stitched together to make a longer clip.
People can then upload their videos with added music and effects to their Feed, and also, if their profile is public, to Instagram’s Explore tab where videos have the chance to go viral. In a press release, Instagram backed this up by saying that “People have always come to express themselves and be entertained on Instagram, and it’s where culture is made.”
“With Reels,” it continued, “people can make entertaining 15-second videos using editing tools. Reels is special because you can share with your friends & followers and could be discovered by IG’s huge, diverse and global community.”
Reels do not have to be shared to Explore though, and people can choose whether they are added to Stories, Close Friends, or sent via DM.
When shared with Explore, Reels can be viewed like photo posts in a new Reels tab within user profiles, while individuals can see how many times their videos have been viewed. If videos are only shared to Stories, Close Friends, or via DM, they disappear after 24 hours like Stories do.
Instagram sees Reels as the fourth pillar of its video offering alongside Stories, Live, and IGTV, but Reels is no doubt a direct move to take people away from TikTok. The meteoric rise of the Chinese-owned platform will have hurt Facebook-owned Instagram and this is a clear move to attract people back.
It’s a similar situation to when Instagram straight up stole the whole idea of Snapchat and made it into Instagram Stories.
Even if TikTok is not banned by the US government, Instagram is sure to take a bite out of its business with Reels. The popularity of Instagram and owner Facebook’s unerring ability to pour more features into the app to keep people hooked shows no signs of stopping.