Is Instagram reels the new-age TikTok?

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

It’s been a year since Instagram debuted with reels. The ban of the China-based video sharing app, TikTok, in India gave content creators a leverage to experiment. So, is it time for TikTok 2.0? We spoke to some millennials to find out what they feel. Read on.

 

Opens Instagram. Clicks on the reels. Scrolls through. Gets lost in them. Laughs, cringes, emotes. Next thing she knows, two hours have gone by. How many of you can relate to this? Doesn’t this remind you of TikTok? Viral videos and trending music?

Image credit: Solen Feyissa, Pixabay.

On June 29, 2020, the Chinese mobile application TikTok got banned in India. However, the app already had a huge traction in the country and millions of content creators from all backgrounds and geographies were engaged in churning out short-videos.


The dawn of reels

Once it was officially forbidden, people started looking for alternate platforms. At around the same time, the photo and video sharing social networking service, Instagram (IG), launched ‘reels’.

The timing of the introduction was such that many TikTokers who already had an IG presence, shifted base and began posting content on reels. Later, even those who didn’t have Instagram accounts, signed up just to reel with the trend! India was one of the first countries after Brazil, Germany and France where reels was introduced. Recently it turned a year old and already has billions of creators across the globe.

There has been a boom in creators after the launch of platforms like Instagram and Tiktok.

That brings us to the question: Has it become the new age TikTok? Well, we spoke to a bunch of millennials about it and here’s what they had to say.


What’s trending?

IG reels are becoming like TikTok since trends are being set constantly, says Sriraj Ray, Delhi-based entrepreneur.

Financial Advisor Abhishek Jha has a different perspective to offer on this. He says, “I think it all started with the idea that humans love to imitate celebrities or anything famous. Remember Dubsmash? Then came Musical.ly which was subsequently bought by the Chinese company, ByteDance and then named TikTok.”

“Well, Instagram is now reaping the benefits of TikTok’s ban. So the idea of seeing a dramatic performance or lip sync is going to remain, but the platforms on which they are produced and consumed might change,” he adds.

Boom in creators

Sushri Sahu, a journalist, feels that reels is definitely the new-age TikTok.

She says, “With a boom in creators, IG definitely feels like the new TikTok. Be it making trends or cashing in on the same, consistent video output is the most viable way to build a following, ranging from a few hundred 'K' to the coveted 'M' club. While it has pushed artists and creative individuals to set standards for themselves, it has also opened up commercial avenues for small businesses. However, there is always a risk of getting averse to a particular song after a few times.”


Old wine in a new bottle

That said, if people wish to stay relevant, there is a pressure to be in sync with the trend or even ahead. How breezy is it for a user to watch hundreds of reels back-to-back with the same song playing, with the same steps and same dialogues, with just a different set of people?

Mohor Sarkar, a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert, agrees.

"Many a times, it is irritating to even click on the reel button. Nowadays, TikTokers are using VPN, downloading Tiktok videos and uploading it as IG reels. Earlier, the content was selective, but now, it has become like a dumping ground.”

In conclusion, reels do offer good content, but the herd mentality is aversive. It is quite clear that IG reels are here to stay for a while. But how do we sieve through and filter out quality content amidst the pool of videos is a question that remains unanswered.

 

Edited by Roshni Shroff

Cover image illustration by Pratyush Thaker

 

Some resources to help you understand how IG reels work:

Instagram is introducing new insights for Reels and Live for creators

Rise of Instagram Reels in India