Yesterday, Instagram put their stake in the ground with a platform to rival TikTok. We knew this would eventually come, and the timing could not be more predictable as TikTok’s fate is up in the air with talks of potential bans or acquisitions.
With an impending threat to shut down TikTok (owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance), Instagram’s latest move could be a smart and dare I say, “savage” one that attracts new audiences that don’t quite know their potential to become reel famous – pun intended.
While we’ve seen this before with Snapchat and Instagram’s introductions of Stories, this move has similar attributes and pros and cons for the digital community. Let’s break it down.
Reach and Audience
With Instagram’s worldwide active monthly users at over one billion, the ability to reach more people and attract new audiences gives them a leg up with creators and brands. While TikTok isn’t far behind with 800 million, their average age demographic skews younger which doesn’t allow as much opportunity for brands with an older target audience. Although, let’s be real, I’m not sure I’m ready for my mom @gigglegranny, to be participating in any “mirror switch” content quite yet. Or am I?
One Stop Shop
Don’t get me wrong, I love TikTok, but being a new dad and busy marketer, I appreciate when my apps combine my favorite features within the same platform. When Instagram introduced Stories, for example, my activity and usage of Snapchat decreased. Instagram building in Stories enabled me to toggle within the Instagram app versus create separate content for the two platforms.
Over the last few months, TikTok has dominated the social media space with viral content. Nearly every news story that is a “pick me up” piece has been recorded and shared on TikTok. Now more than ever, people are craving feel good stories and consuming more content than ever, and with Instagram’s reach and audience, Reels will be the next place to find “viral” content for users and news media alike.
Given Facebook’s extensive infrastructure, as a marketer we need the data to drive our decisions and budget spends. While TikTok has a sophisticated infrastructure as well, it is still a bit premature when it comes to reporting, targeting, interests, etc., in my opinion.
Even with their controversies, Instagram and Facebook are trusted by brands and creators. Reels will also help the influencer and creator space to build integrated Instagram programs for brands. That, alongside their media buy, creates an abundance of brand love. I can see the integration now – let’s have @chrissyteigen (my favorite) go live with a cooking segment, then do two in-feed posts showing the final recipes, and three Instagram stories with swipe-up links and then have her do a quick 15-second time-lapse with a great soundtrack on Reels.
In my opinion, content should always have two things: humanity and realness. I worry that Reels, due to its ties to Instagram and its close resemblance to TikTok, won’t come off as real or authentic. When Snapchat first emerged, I had the same concerns. Yet, Snapchat evolved to be more of a communications platform – one where users often communicate directly with friends vs. existing as a traditional social media platform with curated content. My hope is that creators and brands bring that sense of authenticity and stay true to themselves, rather than trying to mold this to be a carbon copy of TikTok.
Fifteen seconds on Reels feels short to me. When I’m watching home makeover and food hack TikTok videos, I love watching the full 60 seconds of content. While there is always debate about audience attention span, 15 seconds feels like Twitter when it first started. To bring that realness and humanity through storytelling, I believe Reels should enable content creators to build videos up to 45 seconds. But to be clear, no one should be doing a dance to a Jason Derulo song for longer than 15 seconds no matter what the platform. Just saying.
What do you think? And what does this mean for your company or brand? I’ll let you mull this over, while I’m over here “Reels-ing.”
Director of Digital and Social Marketing Josh Carter exploring Reels’ capabilities!