Facebook introduces Instagram Reels as TikTok faces an uncertain future

In 2019 the app TikTok reached an audience of 500 million active users. And with 41 % of TikTok’s users being between 16 and 24, the app has been vastly appealing to a younger audience, to much concern. At the start of August 2020 the social media app, Instagram, retaliated with a new product feature to match and maybe even overdue the success of TikTok. Instagram Reels launched just as the Chinese owned app, TikTok, facing a strange deal, or maybe even a US ban. 

Facebook’s getting back in the game with ‘Reels’ feature

Releasing the new video feature, Reels for Instagram, Facebook is taking the success of TikTok and bringing it into their community. And that is key. The 15-second featured films that might seem nothing more than short video clips to the untrained eye, is, in fact, a viral video-making machine. 

The success of TikTok does not come down to a single feature. The aspects of user-friendly tools and active community challenges combined with the familiar social sharing mechanisms, like hashtags, has paved the way for growing user audiences. Also, the app holds features where you don’t need a million followers to get a lot of exposure, basically possessing the potential ability to make you famous overnight. 

According to The Verge, Reels have basically copied the “For You Page” from TikTok, and integrated it alongside the current ‘Instagram Stories’ feature. Whether Reels can be said to be an identical copy of TikTok is still up for question. Back when Instagram introduced stories, a lot of the criticism was that Instagram had stolen the feature from Snapchat. But evidently, the ‘Stories’ feature has turned out even more successful with more than 500 million daily users publishing stories.

Close it, or sell it?

As TikTok increases its popularity it has also gained much criticism and enemies. It is not the first time the US president has cast serious doubt about the presence of Chinese tech companies in the US, and probably not the last. However, in the case of TikTok, the US government does have the power to force TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell its US holding. And according to the president himself, he already has a buyer in mind. 

But before we get into the US sale of TikTok, how exactly is it that the US government can force a sale of a foreign company? Well, it all comes from the many months of suspicion on how TikTok manages its user’s sensitive data and whether this might mean that TikTok could potentially be used by the Chinese government to spy on its users. It is the very purpose of the CFIUS, or the Committee on Foreign Investment to protect national interest from foreign entities that might threaten national security. And so it has been mobilized to so in the case of ByteDance and TikTok. 

Doubts have been sown as to whether the US government is masking trade negotiations for security matters. As of now ByteDance operates outside of China and has stated that US citizens data is stored in the US. The security threat that ByDance could be forced by the Chinese government to hand out its user data still seems to be the root of the issue for the US government. So how is the US government attacking the issue?

The latest development in the case, according to the New York Times, is that Microsoft might be bidding on the US holdings of TikTok, though this has not been finally confirmed by the tech company. Donald Trump has even stated that he encourages the sale of TikTok, perhaps with the support of the US government. This would be the first time a social media company is divided by regions, as Microsoft would be buying separate shares for the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand markets. Amid the chaos of TikTok’s future, Facebook is mobilizing its forces through Instagram ‘Reels’, and well, so should you.

How Can You Mobilize ‘Reels’ for Your Company Success?

In what ways can you get a headstart of your competitors and mobilize Reels in your marketing strategy? As a digital marketer, you need to approach Reels as a means to broaden your reach to new users through fun and engaging content. Think of it as TikTok 2.0, but now you are combining your existing efforts in one place. In many senses, Reels presents the opportunity for companies to meet with their users in a common creative space. 

Focusing on increasing your engagement with your audience can then present new ways for users to discover and enjoy your brand, in the end creating new ways of driving your sales. With so much content being made and distributed, it is important to be authentic with our users. As most users produce videos directly in the feed, your content must match the same aesthetic and feel, as the content your users deliver. If your main goal is to sell clothes, food or home supplies, in what ways can you meet your users’ needs? What stories would they relate to, like, and share? Now is the chance to show the human and less-perfect aspects of you and your business – and remember to always keep it fun!

If you are completely new to social media marketing, get all our insights on how to drive user engagement on Instagram in this post!