Instagram announced today, that it will launch its short-form video, TikTok-look alike Reels, to a “broad base” in India today. This comes when TikTok’s ban has led to a swarm of short form video apps — some of them cheaper TikTok knock-offs — to go live as they look to capture millions of users out in the open, looking for TikTok alternatives.
For those unaware, Instagram reels is an in-app looping video feature that allows users to create, edit, and share 15 second long videos. Reels can be shared via DMs, on stories, and if the user’s account is public, and on the new explore section as well.
Similar to the Boomerang and Superzoom features, ‘Reels’ will be available in the Stories section. It will provide options like audio from Instagram Music library, speed, effects, and timer, the whole shebang.
Instagram Reels was first announced for the Brazilian market in November 2019, and has expanded to France and Germany since then. The feature had gone through extensive testing in these regions, but did not get the same liberty for Indian market. The country, which is the biggest consumer of the content type, recently bid adieu to Tiktok, and is still in withdrawal. Thus, Facebook had to fast track the roll out process, and announced the official launch just days after testing began in the region.
Without mincing any words, Reels is a Tiktok replica. Just like the Chinese app, the feature also comes with a ‘Use Audio’ option which will let others use your original audio to create their Reels. It follows the same content style of Tiktok videos, and allows user to create hype driven ephemeral video with background scores. As of now, Reels may not have any direct monetisation avenues for content creators. TikTok too, only recently started rolling out Ads. Content creators were largely getting paid by brands for posting branded content on their respective channels.
Facebook however, dismissed any assumptions that Reels’ launch has been hastened due to the TikTok ban. “Videos constitute within a third of all posts in India and generally speaking, about 45% of all videos posted on Instagram are of 15 seconds or short,” said Vishal Shah, VP of Product on Facebook. So a broad test of Reels, in India was only natural, added Ajit Mohan, head of Facebook India.
“With Reels, we’re unveiling the future of entertainment on the platform, in a way that ignites creativity. With the multiple creative formats, whichever way you want to express yourself, it can now be on Instagram,” added Mohan.
The feature will be launched in India at 7:30 PM (Indian Standard Time) today. Once released, it will be inaugurated by popular public figures like Komal Pandey, Arjun Kanungo, Indrani Biswas, Kusha Kapila, Radhika Bangia, and RJ Abhinav.
Facebook recent moves in this domain have all pretty much come in post New Delhi’s China apps ban. The social media giant surprisingly decided to kill Lasso, its own Tiktok like platform. The company realised that building a new platform from scratch wasn’t worth it, and decided to do what it excels at- Copying popular features into existing platforms (Sorry Snapchat, but you lose).
It’s interesting to note that YouTube is also currently testing a TikTok like tool called ‘Shorts’ which may make an appearance in the Indian market shortly.