It may have only been a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about TikTok last, but lo and behold the video-sharing app has found its way back into the spotlight. This time because of its forever rival, Facebook, on their release of a brand new Instagram social feature; Instagram Reels.

Instagram Reels is now available in the US and 50 other countries. If you’ve already seen reels start to appear on your feed, or had a brief (or endless) dabble in the continuous scrolling timeline, then you probably will have noticed that the feature is quite familiar, actually, it’s extremely familiar, in that it is a near-exact copycat of the popular Chinese app, TikTok.

If you’re curious about the Tiktok tea, how to start reeling yourself, or just want to get savvy at swiping, we’ve got you covered with our Ultimate Reels Breakdown.

The Why

Tiktok found itself in hot water in recent times with its ban in India, potential ban in the States as well as the US Senate’s unanimous support of a bill that would ban the app on government issued devices, after national security concerns. As of last week, TikTok’s owner, Beijing based company Byte dance, has been given until September 15th to either sell its US operations to Microsoft or face an outright ban.

Leveraging the launch of Instagram Reels on the back of the Tiktok crisis is a clever move from Facebook, whether or not loyal Tiktok users will make the transition is another story. However, if Instagram Reels launch goes anything like the launch of Instagram stories in 2016, which now currently has 500 million daily users, it could be a game-changer for the app.

The How

Instagram Reels operates in an identical way to TikTok, even down to the ways username, captions, and audio tracks are displayed on the left. The look is mighty familiar and will feel like a home away from home for anyone familiar with Tiktok.

The new Reels Explore Feed (aka the For You page) can be found on your Instagram Explore page and, just like Tiktok, operates with a continuous feed. Just like the aforementioned app, be prepared to sign away hours of your life to the endless scrolling.

Users can record and edit together 15 second video clips set to music and share them on stories, explore feeds, and the new reels tab. Tempted to make your own? Simply open your Instagram story camera and find the reels icon.

The What Next

Where Instagram Reels may be a little cheeky in its blatant copycat design, it still does offer brands exciting new ways to improve engagement and grow their following. Reels gives brands the opportunity to sell personality in the same way Instagram stories do, but with a longer shelf life as they don’t expire after 24 hours.

The feature is designed to be a fast, fun way to share creative and potentially viral videos with a wide audience. The social feature allows videos to show up on explore pages, reaching a whole new audience, and links directly back to your Instagram account. For brands, this could be an invaluable way to optimize Instagram’s 1 billion active users and grow their following, one viral video at a time.

My favourite videos I’ve seen so far are this makeup tutorial from Sephora, a collaboration with @ryanbpotter which gained over 1.9 million views. This clever use of influencer marketing from Walmart, and this smart use of creative editing to showcase products for Topshop.

Keeping it Reel

So, already the feature is proving to be of interest to creators and brands, it certainly has the potential to make waves in the world of digital marketing. With the future of Tiktok looking tentative, Instagram Reels may just be the next biggest thing for video sharing. Whether or not there’s space for the both of them is another question. Which one gets your vote?

If you’re looking for more advice on TikTok, social media marketing, or just general social savviness, contact us. We’d love to hear from you.