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  • Jane Casey

Instagram Reels: Is This The End of TikTok?

TikTok just got a serious competitor in Instagram Reels – a new feature to the popular photo and video sharing app that is almost a carbon copy of TikTok’s addictive interface and algorithm. But how will this impact TikTok, and should brands abandon their TikTok strategy?

This month, Mark Zuckerberg announced Instagram Reels – a brand new feature to Instagram, and a blatant attempt at luring users back to the platform in the wake the possible banning of TikTok in the US.

In their own words, Reels invites you to “create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram”.

Instagram Reels interface 2020

Just like TikTok, you can use audio clips, AR lenses, and other video effects to create short-form video content. The biggest similarity, and change of gear for Instagram, is a new algorithm that can allow almost anyone to be discovered and go viral. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons young audiences favoured Tiktok, was because ANYONE had the ability to become TikTok famous over night if they featured on the For You Page. In contrast, over time, Instagram became only for the influencers – a hyper-curated, brand saturated social media platform.

The back story

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of the new feature was strategic. For months now, President Donald Trump has been teasing a ban on the Chinese-owned TikTok in the name of national security. Last week, he made good on his vague promise by signing an official executive order that is set to ban any transactions with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.

The order reads, “The spread [of apps controlled by the Chinese government] continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. “It continues, “The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security.”

The effect of the bill isn’t immediate, but contingent on the fall through of a possible US acquisition of the social platform by Microsoft. If Microsoft doesn’t successfully take over US operations of TikTok, then the app could be banned in the US – which could impact TikTok’s popularity worldwide. Now, we play the waiting game, as we have a 45 day window in which the deal has to be made.

If it’s not – it looks like TikTok is on the way out, and Zuckerberg will be back on top.

How will this impact creators and brands?

Will TiKTok suffer the fate of Snapchat, and lose out to Instagram’s copycattery? TikTok content creator Miriam Mullins thinks it might.

If there is a TikTok ban – yes I think Instagram Reels may take over.” Albeit, she hopes that the ban won’t happen. “However TikTok is such a diverse app with so much different content and creators that I think it would be heartbreaking if it did get banned,” she added. “I think TikTok is a lot easier to use. TikTok you can shoot up to 60 seconds where’s Instagram reels is only 15 seconds which is very limiting for some creators. “I feel like over time Reels night develop and grow but for now the TikTok interface is a lot easier to use. I feel like Instagram are doing way too many things and taking away from the original idea of the app.” But if Instagram Reels did grow and expand its features, would she migrate and take her 255K+ following back to Instagram with her? “For now TikTok is working out best for me personally. It’s easier to use, it’s more diverse and it’s easier to get discovered,” she explained. Only time will tell what fate has in-store for the two social media juggernauts. Instagram has edged out serious competitors in the past, and it’s more important than ever to be agile and ever adapt to new platforms and features. At Pluto, we’re strong advocates of never putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to social media platforms. Now is the time to be smart and split your time and budgets among what platform has an audience now – as well as what may be the next big platform next year. If you keep on top of trends and you bet on a winner, you’re sure to reap the rewards.

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