The new feature of Instagram is on everybody’s lips right now and handled as the direct competitor to TikTok. So is it a one-to-one copy of the record-breaking video-sharing app from China? And does it have the same users? Most importantly, can you use Reels for business? And if so, how? So many questions! In this blog post, we give an overview of what Instagram Reels is, who the users are, how brands can use the feature and where we think Reels future lies. 

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is another feature of Instagram and a new possibility to create fun videos. On August 5th, Instagram made its newest video-feature available in the UK, Sweden, Germany and 48 other countries. Right on time for the USA as it seems. In the same month, US-president Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok nationwide after the app got in trouble with the USA because of his Chinese owner ByteDance. After recent updates based on user feedback, the video length limit on Reels went from 15 seconds to 30 seconds.

The latest addition to the Instagram family has a random feed on the Instagram “Explore” page, showing the most popular and trending Reels – similar to TikTok’s “For You”-page. In other words, you don’t have to follow the accounts to see their Reels videos in this feed. When you have a public account, you’re able to share your Reels in this feed. When your account is private on the other hand, you can share your Reels only in your own feed. Further, other users can’t use the original audio of your Reels and can’t share your Reels.

The algorithm of the “Explore” page isn’t really revealed yet but it seems to work preference-orientated – just as TikToks “For You” page. This means it shows you Reels according to the content you interact with the most.

Reels disposes of a row of creative tools: audio, speed, ar-effects and timer and countdown. Compared to its competitor TikTok, the feature doesn’t offer as many possibilities to get creative in making videos. Status quo, TikTok provides more advanced editing functions, a great number of filters and effects – the filters and effects of Reels are identical with the ones of Instagram Stories – and allow to insert pictures in the videos. Moreover, Reels only has a limited selection of music titles – for now. And even though Reels seems to be the perfect copy of TikTok in some way, it doesn’t include the centrepiece of TikTok: its opportunity to let its users interact with one another through duets and reactions.

However, Instagram just recently updated Reels and implemented tools to trim and delete single clips in order to make the editing easier. Additionally, the social media platform extended the timer.

If you already have been on the Reels “Explore” page, you might have seen that some of the videos a “Featured” tag in the bottom left corner.