Sahail Ashraf posted on 19 March 2021
Reels has worked hard to get where it is today as a competitor to TikTok, but a new test by Facebook in India may turn the pressure up a notch.
The short video market is not exactly saturated in social media, but it could do with a little excitement. Facebook may well be the company that rocks the boat a little bit more. We all know what TikTok is, and how it has become very much the gold standard for short video and music combinations, but there is still Facebook, and there is still Instagram Reels. Facebook launched Reels last year with a reasonably large amount of fanfare, but it didn’t change the world. Now, it has decided to update it’s approach with Reels, and become that little more aggressive with how it pitches it.
The main issue for Facebook has been the need to slow TikTok down. It has spread massively and quickly, and this has naturally concerned the tech giant, which very much wants to be on top of every market. The biggest problem has been ‘migration’, where users of Facebook and Instagram drift across to TikTok.
Reels came out first in India last year, and was immediately hailed as a viable contender to the Tik Tok crown. India was a huge success for Reels, and this was helped by the fact that TikTok received a ban in the country just before Reels was launched.
Going back to India’s successes, Facebook is trialling something new with Reels. Now, users of Reels in the country will be able to share their clips to their Facebook account as well. This simply gives Reels more reach, and makes the link between Facebook and Instagram stronger.
Facebook intends for users to be able to share their Reels work on Facebook in News Feeds. Here is the official company statement on the new direction:
“In India, we’re testing the ability for Instagram creators to choose to have their Reels recommended on Facebook… creators can reach new audiences and people can create and discover more entertaining content.”
The whole concept revolves around exposure. We all know how big Facebook is, and if creators can get their videos recommended to Facebook News Feeds, the exposure levels will be boosted. This then makes Reels much more attractive to creators than TikTok. TikTok does not yet have that link to a huge platform like Facebook. So there’s the edge. If Facebook gets this right, and the Reels to Facebook link is strong, it could be another blow to TikTok.
This is a strong move by Facebook, and it has the reach and the budget to make it stick. If it turns out well, expect to see Reels and Facebook continuing to make waves in other regions and countries. Facebook will always expand, and will always find ways to create new markets. If it is possible to expand and beat TikTok with Reels, you can bet it will do just that.
There are some things to consider before creators get too excited though. The first is the fact that Reels will be clamping down heavily on creators who use content from other apps. This means those creators who moved across from TikTok to Reels may find that it becomes increasingly difficult to reuse their old TikTok videos on Reels. This of course makes sense for Reels, and it is perfectly fair to expect a platform to have its own native content. However, that will not make some creators happy, who have been busy repurposing TikTok content so that it works within Reels.
The end result will be that Reels has more and more original video content, and that this content reaches more and more people via Facebook (if the India experiment is fruitful). We can’t see it failing. Facebook knows how to capitalise on opportunities, and let’s not forget that TikTok does not have a huge corporate partner like Instagram has Facebook (yet).
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