September 22, 2020
Instagram timed it remarkably well with Reels. It was kinda like your friends coming over the second your parents left for a vacay (not that vacations are happening right now. Thank you, COVID!)
But timing is not everything, especially in the social world. You’ve gotta have the goods, or the users will just not follow.
And that’s why we think this might be the first instance where Instagram has copied a feature and failed.
Or maybe we’re giving the verdict too soon? You tell us!
It began with Instagram, not Reels.
The powers that be at Facebook realized that the average age of their users was rising (upwards of 35). So, to capture the younger generation, they acquired Instagram in 2012.
Four years later, they realized that they had to bridge yet another gap – users who preferred Snapchat over Instagram. So, they created Stories.
Two years go by, and it hits them that content creators with the highest quality content are on YouTube. So, they launched IGTV.
Two more years, bringing us to 2020, it became crystal clear that TikTok was emerging as the winner for Gen Z content creators. You know where this is going, right?
They came up with Reels.
Did they plan to launch it right when TikTok was banned in India or was that fortuitous timing? We may never know. What we can take a call on is if it is succeeding.
Will it or will it not make it big?
When you put TikTok and Reels side by side, Reels comes off as the sidekick. It is clear that the feature is nowhere near as user-friendly as TikTok. From this perspective, Reels is not a success.
But if we chalk that up as an under-developed feature pushed to launch, then Reels does stand to make it big. There are three things that attract users to a platform:
- One, does it match the content tone of the creator? We already know from the hordes of creators on TikTok that this stands true for Reels. People love the 15-second video format.
- Second, does it offer paid opportunities? This is also true because Instagram has been at the top of the influencer marketing list for literally every brand.
- Three, does it offer audience interaction? This was one of the biggest reasons TikTok became a phenomenon. Its algorithms allowed overnight success if you produced superb content. Reels is following the same path. It increased engagement for creators who embraced the feature by pushing their Reels over other posts.
Users will make or break Reels.
How did TikTok – an app that stood nowhere as tall as the giants like Facebook and Instagram – make it big? It attracted users with innovative features.
That’s the gist of it.
So, if you look at Reels from that angle, then the feature will make it for sure. At the last count, Instagram had 1 billion users, and the majority of them hard-core loyalists.
It may take the time to warm-up to Reels, but chances are they will in the end. After all, it took over a year for IGTV to catch on!
Factor in the single platform convenience of Instagram, i.e. a creator can generate different content formats within one app, the odds are stacked in favor of Reels.
You tell us if Reels will be a success!
Based on how the winds are blowing currently (read TikTok facing a US ban too), we feel Reels may work in the long run. But before that happens, the feature has a lot of growing up to do.
Given the switcheroo of the search icon on the app, Instagram seems to have clued in that users are not too hot for Reels.
But as we said it’s the users who make or break any feature or social media site. So, you tell us. Do you think Reels might take off?