Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Instagram is launching a video-music remix feature to finally fight back against Chinese social rival TikTok. Instagram Reels lets you make 15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories, with the potential to go viral on a new Top Reels section of Explore. Just like TikTok, users can soundtrack their Reels with a huge catalog of music, or borrow the audio from anyones else video to create a remix of their meme or joke.
Reels is launching today on iOS and Android but limited to just Brazil where its called Cenas. Reels leverages all of Instagrams most popular features to frankenstein together a remarkably coherent competitor to TikToks rich features and community of 1.5 billion monthly users including 122 million in the US according to Sensor Tower. Instead of trying to start from scratch like Facebooks Lasso, Instagram could cross-promote Reels heavily to its own billion users.
Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil
But Instagrams challenge will be retraining its populace to make premeditated, storyboarded social entertainment instead of just spontaneous, autobiographical social media like with Stories and feed posts.
I think Musically before TikTok, and TikTok deserve a ton of credit for popularizing this format admits Instagram director of product management Robby Stein. Thats nearly verbatim what Instagram founder Kevin Systrom told me about Snapchat when Instagram launched Stories. They deserve all the credit, he said before copying Snapchat so ruthlessly that it stopped growing for three years.
Yet Stein insists No two products are exactly the same, and at the end of the day sharing video with music is a pretty univeral idea we think everyone might be interested in using. The focus has been on how to make this a unique format for us. The key to that divergence? Your friends are already all on Instagram. I think thats only true of Instagram.

Throwing Instagrams Weight Around

Starting in Brazil before potentially rolling out elsewhere could help Instagram nail down its customization and onboarding strategy. Luckily, Brazil has a big Instagram population, a deeply musical culture, and a thriving creator community, says Stein.
It also isnt completely obsessed with TikTok yet like fellow developing market India. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said about trying to grow Lasso, Were trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big. Instagram used this internationalization strategy to make Stories a hit where Snapchat hadnt expanded yet, and it worked surprisingly well.
Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Instagram also has the US government on its side for a change. While its parent company Facebook is being investigated for anti-trust and privacy violations, TikTok is also under scrutiny.
Chinese tech giant ByteDances $1 billion 2017 acquisition of, another Chinese app similar to TikTok but with traction in the US, is under review by the Committee For Foreign Investment In The United States. ByteDance turned into TikTok, but it could have to unwind the acquisitions or make other concessions to US regulators to protect the countrys national security. Several Senators have also railed against TikTok injecting Chinese social values via censorship into the American discourse.
Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Perhaps Instagrams best shot at differentiation is through its social graph. While TikTok is primarily a feed broadcasting app, Instagram can work Reels into its Close Friends and Direct messaging features potentially opening a new class of creators shy one who only want to share with people they trust not to make fun of them. A lot of this lipsyncing / dancing / humor skit content can be kinda cringey when people dont get it just right.

How Instagram Reels Works

Users will find it in the Instagram Stories shutter modes tray next to Boomerang and Super-Zoom. They can either record with silence, borrow the audio of another video they find through hashtag search or Explore, or search a popular or trending song.
Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Facebooks enormous music collection secured from all the major labels and many indie publishers powers Reels. Users pick the chunk to the song they want, and can then record or upload multiple video clips to fill out their Reel. Instagram has been building towards this moment since June 2018 when it first launched its Music stickers.
Instagram is adding some much-needed editing tools for Reels like timed captions so words appear in certain scenes, and a ghost overlay option for lining up transitions so they look fluid. Still, Reels lacks some of the video filters and special effects that TikTok has purposefully built to power certain gags and cuts between scenes. Stein says those are coming though.
Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil

Once users are satisfied with their editing job, they can post their Reel to Stories, Close Friends, or message it to people. If shared publicly, it will also be eligible to appear in the Top Reels section of the Explore tab. Most cleverly, Instagram works around its own ephemerality by letting users add their Reels to their profiles non-disappearing Highlights for a shot to show up on Explore even after their 24-hour story expires.
Instead of having to monetize later somehow, Instagram can immediately start making money from Reels since it already shows ads in Stories and the Explore tab. The feature is sure to get plenty of exposure since 500 million of Instagrams users already open Stories and Explore each month. Still, Reels composer and feed will be buried a few extra taps away from the homescreen compared to TikTok.

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