05 Aug 2020

Instagram’s TikTok Competitor Reels Made Its Debut Today

We knew Instagram would be releasing Reels in the US early August, but most people didn’t know the exact date as with every Instagram feature. As I woke up this morning and watched reel after reel being done by celebrities and influencers, I wondered when it would make its way to my app! The wait was unnerving, but eventually we got there. As someone who has spent the last few months on TikTok, I was eager to see how Reels would match up. Around lunchtime, I tested it myself. Within 30 minutes, I was able to [learn and record] a dance routine to Calvin Harris, Migos, and Frank Ocean’s “Slide.”

Here are some of the things I observed:

  • There were significantly more Reels within feed than normal, but you also had your fair share of regular Instagram videos. The content switching between both and photos were tough to get used to. It’s almost like content overload.
  • It took me several minutes to find my drafts folder.
  • It’s great that the music library within Instagram is something you’re familiar with if you already use it for your stories, but there’s no way to save sound clips (or I haven’t found it yet) This feature is important on TikTok because sometimes I want to save a clip and record the video later. Instead, on Reels, it beckons you to record that video in the moment with that audio.
  • Are the effects that you can use within Instagram just filters? Am I missing it?
  • You can share your Reel to feed, stories, or the dedicated Reels part of your Instagram. At first, it wasn’t clear to me that you didn’t have to share it to feed automatically.
  • Posting to feed and reels is decent quality. If you post to stories, the quality is bad.
  • Videos can’t surpass 15 seconds unlike TikTok.

Overall, I found the process a bit clunky, but I’m willing to give this a little bit more time. For the time being, I plan on recording videos to both TikTok and Reels to become familiar with it, but I don’t find this to be intuitive. If you think about it, Instagram now houses feed, stories, reels, and IGTV. That’s quite a lot going on!

One thing that I considered is how Instagram is generally perceived. Instagram has a reputation for being perfect. Users share content that is aesthetically pleasing and create a well-crafted feed. Is there any question that Reels won’t fall into that same pattern? Users that may not be comfortable with video will have a tougher time getting their foot in the door. That pressure of continuing to keep something looking perfect will create some tension. And it’s apparent that Reels is on another level than the quick snapshot of Stories.

In some ways, this couldn’t have come at a better time. With TikTok being on the verge of being banned by President Trump, this is a prime time for Instagram and Triller to move in. The question is, are Instagram users willing to adopt it?

Posted on August 5, in Design

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