TikTok is in hot waters in the US right now. The Chinese-owned video-sharing platform has come under scrutiny after the Trump Administration stated they are looking to ban the app. President Donald Trump has reportedly given TikTok until September 15 to sell its operations to American Buyers. Microsoft is the frontrunner in this deal, which becomes increasingly complicated due to Trump’s interventions.
TikTok, which already has American executives and hires around 1000 employees in the US, is looking at being kicked out following a ban in India. Owners, ByteDance, have stated their intent to grow in the US and even projected generating about 10,000 jobs in the country. The speculative US ban will add heat to the US-China trade war. Even more so, things are not going in TikTok’s way as the app was planning to earn $1 billion revenue this year.
The ongoing woes of TikTok have become a boon for its competitors. Apps like Byte, Triller, Zynnm, and Clash providing similar features to TikTok have seen an increase in downloads. This increase in downloads and users is due to many ‘TikTokers’ looking for alternatives in case TikTok gets banned. Influencers and Creators have already started preparing for life after TikTok. Many are getting handles on other apps to migrate their following and, in turn, earnings.
Amidst all this, Facebook and Snapchat have also joined the race to capitalize on panicking TikTokers. Notably, Facebook is now adding a new “feature” to Instagram that looks like TikTok. Meet Instagram ‘Reels’, now conveniently available in more than 50 countries, including the US, UK, Japan, and Australia, on iOS and Android.
Like the cloning of Snapchat’s stories back in 2016, Reels is a clone of TikTok’s video making features inside the Instagram app. That is to say, Reels is not a standalone app but more like a feature added to entice creators and consumers of another video format. You know, like IGTV targeting YouTubers and long-format videos.
Users can experience Reels in the revamped Explore tab of the Instagram app. Now the Explore section will feature trending Reels videos that allow vertical scrolling like TikTok’s ‘For You’ section. User’s Reels will be live in their profile under new Reels sections similar to how one can check IGTV videos on profiles.
Users can create a Reel by selecting the feature at the bottom of the Instagram Camera, i.e., where you usually made Stories. Selecting Reels will allow using a variety of creative editing tools that include tweaking audio, AR effects, timers, and video speed. It’s quite similar to TikTok, so there should be no problem for familiar users.
After making the Reel, users now have the option of sharing it to Explore and posting it on the Feed. Posting it to Explore will allow other users to discover the Reels for the videos that get featured. Also, sharing to Explore is only available for users with a public Instagram account.
For users with a private account, they can only share to Feed. The viewers will not be able to use the original audio, nor will they be able to share them with people who don’t follow you. Regardless of a public or private account, users can share their Reel to the story or as a direct message.
The success of Instagram Stories does point to a positive response for Reels. The mixed reception of IGTV immediately contradicts that. However, with TikTok facing turbulent times, Instagram Reels can be the right answer for thousands of TikTok creators and millions of fans. For Instagram, that’s another competitor down and an opportunity to strengthen its foothold.