What is Instagram Reels & is it a rival to TikTok

What is Instagram Reels & is it a rival to TikTok

Let’s get reel, Instagram Reel that is. Whether you’re an Insta super fan or a user with some awareness, you may have noticed the option to create reels, or scroll through reels. And then after being sucked in for who knows how long, you’ll then be left wondering how you got on to TikTok. Either way, those looking to boost their platform and add a professional touch, you should be curious about it. How is it different? How do I use it? Maybe even, is it worth my time? We’re going to tell you what we Reely think…too much? 😉

So what are Reels? Reels is a tool to help you create fun videos to share on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. These limited videos have endless opportunities to make others laugh, be inspired, and create trends that others can take part of and add their own personality to, while gaining a following. 

How do you make a Reel? Select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery. Record the first clip by pressing and holding the capture button. You’ll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record. Stop recording to end each clip. 

You’ll see a few creative editing tools on the left side of your screen.

  • Audio: Search for a song from the music library. You can also use your own original audio when you record your reel with it in the background. When you share a reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you, and if you have a public account, people can create reels with your audio by selecting “Use Audio” from your reel.
  • AR Effects: Select one of the effects in the gallery to record clips with different effects.
  • Timer and Countdown: Set the timer to record any of your videos hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown (yep just like the old-school digital camera), before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.
  • Align: Line up objects from your previous clip before recording your next reel if you are wanting to create seamless transitions
  • Speed: Choose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected. Slow-mo anyone?

Let’s talk about #goals. When you know your Reels are that good – you’ll get a notification from Instagram if it’s chosen to be featured in the Explore section. Reels showcased in Explore represent the best of trending culture so feel special if you find one of our Reels there! 

This wouldn’t be a proper blog on Reels if we didn’t call out the obvious – how similar it is to TikTok. 

In an effort to highlight some differences between the two platforms, let’s start with the ways users are able to find the content. What you see on Instagram is determined by the Explore page, and who you follow. The Explore page is algorithmically catered to you but not as fine-tuned when compared to TikTok, due to the idea of “exploring”. On the explore page you can see Reels playing while you scroll, and once you click on a reel you can continue to scroll. That scrolling feature might spark your Deja Vu because it starts to look eerily like TikTok. Another notable difference is how these limited videos can be created. TikTok limits users to a specific 15-second slice of a song. On Reels, you can choose which part of the track to use. Reels limits videos to 15 seconds, while TikTok videos can be up to a minute. Also, you can’t post “Duets” — which are side-by-side video responses — on Reels like you can on TikTok.

The New York Times (see link below) asked some of their avid TikTokers to try out Insta Reels for a period of time and then report back. When looking to create they mentioned that TikTok will automatically place together the videos you select from your photos app to the song of your choice. This allows the creator to line up their videos smoothly and seamlessly, a plus for those short on time but a con when looking to be creative from scratch.

With a new feature comes new opportunities, and that can mean reaching new audiences. Before you go thinking you have to make the switch completely you might want to consider using both platforms for a while. Many influencers will use Reels to repurpose their TikTok or YouTube clips or vice versa. Making yourself known on a new platform with different users can take time, so best to get the most out of your content everywhere you can as you’re building a following. Keep in mind TikTok could end up banned in the US and you might not want to have to go back to zero – start on Reels and if anything use it as a place to keep your old TikToks in the off chance governments make the decision which platform we’ll use for us. We’ll tell you one thing, we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket.

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