What is Instagram Reels?
According to their official announcement, Reels allows Instagram users to "record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools." You can have a look at the very TikTok-like editing you can do in the below video that Instagram shared.
Like with Instagram Stories, you can share reels with your followers on your feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new section specifically dedicated to Reels.
The new section is the Reels Explore Feed. It's basically like TikTok's For You page, where you see stuff from popular and trending accounts, not just people you follow. If you make it to the Reels Explore page, you'll get a little notification and your Reel will say "Featured."
Much like with TikTok, we don't know exactly how content will be selected by the algorithm. Instagram explains it very briefly, saying, "Featured reels are a selection of public reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you." We reckon it'll be a mix of content similar to what you've already liked and stuff from the most popular Reel users.
How do you create and edit an Instagram Reel?
If you're keen to give the new features a go, here's the shortcut to some of the important editing features. Yes, they are ALL a lot like TikTok.
- Audio: Reels has a library of music that you can use to soundtrack your micro vid content, or you can create an original sound by simply recording it with your reel. If you have a public account, other people will be able to use your sounds to create their own Reels.
- AR Effects: These are the TikTok-esque effects you're seeing in the above video. Things like green screen, warping faces, adding filters and creative transitions.
- Timer and Countdown: Set the timer to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.
- Align: This helps you line up objects from a previous clip to the next one you're recording to make seamless transitions, like outfit changes.
- Speed: You can use this to speed or slow parts of the video or audio you're editing, again to help you stay on a beat or make things slow motion.
You can record Reels straight from the Instagram app, or you can assemble one from clips already in your camera roll. Once you're done editing it, you can save a draft of your reel, change the cover image, add a caption and hashtags, and tag your friends.
You can also just share your Reels to your Story, close friends or in a DM. If you do that though, it'll behave like a regular story and disappear after 24 hours—which is a lot of effort, but we know some people live to be extra.
Will Instagram Reels replace TikTok?
In 2020, nothing is certain. There's been a lot of talk about TikTok potentially being bought by Microsoft or just being outright banned in the U.S., where a large amount of its young userbase is. That, in turn, generated a bit of backlash from the TikTok community. As one user wrote, "The real reason they're trying to ban TikTok is because young people are organizing political movements on it."
With the launch of Reels, it does look like Instagram is preparing for at least some sh*t to go down. We'll be watching this space. Good luck to all the dancing teens, may the Reels Explore page algorithm be ever in your favour.
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