Instagram Reels: Is TikTok’s Time Up?

Over the past couple of years, Tik Tok has quickly climbed the ranks of popular app downloads to become one of the most engaged with social media platforms on the planet.

Particularly popular with the younger generation, it allows users to create short, quick-form videos mostly set to appropriate music, to share with their friends.

But with current negative perceptions in the media, along with a potential competitor waiting in the wings, the question must be asked whether or not the 800-million-user-strong social media newcomer is under threat…

What’s the issue with TikTok?

Back in June, the Indian government officially banned the TikTok app in the country, stating that it was “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”

The idea behind the decision being that the app itself and the information provided by users poses a national security threat. However, many have been quick to dispute this claim, instead proposing that the sheer popularity of the app, as well as the amount of users it was able to amass in such a short space of time, spooked many in positions of authority, prompting them to ban the app and stop it dead in its tracks.

One person who also seems to subscribe to the potential dangers of TikTok, though, is President Trump who has stated recently he plans to ban the app and would consider doing so through an executive order if the situation called for it.

Whether or not you believe the rumours that TikTok harvests more sensitive user data than is perhaps morally acceptable, there’s no denying that in the 21st century, data in itself has become a form of currency. This makes peoples’ worries based on claims like these much more understandable, especially in the light of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What makes TikTok so popular? And should companies be taking notice?

It’s been no secret that video content has been the way of the future (now the present) for some time now. The explosion of YouTube in the mid 2000’s was all we needed to know to see that. But the expansion of short-form comedic video content took the internet by storm, especially with the arrival of the now-defunct Vine app back in 2013. Vine’s 200 million users was nothing to turn your face at, even in the face of TikTok’s 800 million. But there can be little argument that the latter would even exist without the former.

But if we look closely at video content over the past number of years, there’s no question these apps have played their part, even if the content is vastly different. Everything from ads to YouTube videos and beyond is playing towards a much shorter attention span, to grab as many viewers in as little time as possible. Sacrificing a much more in-depth viewing experience for fast clicks and even faster buys.

If companies are looking to take advantage of video content in the modern age, the best policy is most likely to keep things sharp, snappy and to-the-point if you don’t want to lose potential viewers. It might not offer the best overall experience, but it’s the one that’s probably going to get the most eyes on you and your product.

Short & simple.

What is Instagram Reels? And why is it a threat to TikTok?

We’d be lying if we didn’t say there are some very similar traits shared between TikTok and Instagram Reels. Both apps are centred around short videos set to music. Both apps keep users wanting to take part in challenges and trends in mind. The only obvious difference on the face of things is the apps’ individual design and usability.

However, while Reels is still in its infancy, many users have been hesitant to move over to the facebook-owned platform not only due to the similarity to TikTok but due to the more restrictive nature of the content; TikTok allows for up to 60-second videos, while Reels cuts you off at 15 seconds. The company has stated, however, that the vast majority of videos produced on Instagram or TikTok are on average around the 15-second mark, so shortening the video length to this amount of time, in a way, makes a lot of sense. Especially considering the popularity of short-form content as we discussed earlier.

One major difference seems to be that Instagram Reels has announced that it has (and will be) “partnered” in some “top names” in the music industry, specifically catering to those wanting to create music-based video content, as most TikTok users do.

Another issue that’s also become apparent for Reels is the simple discoverability users have over on TikTok.  TikTok has an element of ‘random discoverability’ that lets you find other users based less on who you’re already connected with. Meaning on TikTok have a much higher chance of becoming popular and having your content seen by a wider audience.

Whereas on Reels, you will need an element of ‘clout’ to reach an audience and feature on the ‘Discover’ page of Instagram. This discourages Instagram users with low followings from creating content as it is unlikely it will be seen by anyone outside their existing followers.

But while the clear similarities to TikTok are a detriment to its brand, Reels has the backing of both Instagram and Facebook’s powerhouse following and marketing experience, meaning not all is lost in the battle for app supremacy yet.

What can we learn from all this?

It’s too early to tell which of the two video app platforms will come out on top; TikTok is still leading the race with 800 million worldwide users, though this will be significantly damaged if any of the proposed further bans come through. Instagram Reels, however, has not done well in early reviews and user experience polls.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway from this is that, while it is possible to challenge an already-successful form of content (or any idea for that matter), it’s essential that your idea is not only different enough to stand out on its own, but is also an improvement over the predecessor in the eyes of the public – something Instagram Reels seems to be falling short of thus far.

But time will tell.

Are you looking to improve the social media of your business? Why not get in touch with us at Bird Consultancy? Our experience in delivering exceptional social media strategy, content and engagement for our clients puts us in a prime position to help deliver the exact same exceptional service for you.

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