Now, Instagram brings TikTok-like 'Reels' to India
The key to success is making a move at the right time—and Instagram is doing just that. A few days back, TikTok, the biggest short video service operating in India, was banned over state security concerns, and now, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing giant is officially launching Reels, its own short-video product, to fill the gap and draw more users. Here's more about it.
Introduced last year, Reels is Instagram's own way of letting users create TikTok-like 15-second videos that are lips-synced to music, dialogues, or additional effects and animations. It was already being tested in Brazil, France, and Germany, and is now rolling out to a "broad" set of users in India as part of an update to the main Instagram app.
"Over a third of things posted in India generally are videos and almost half of the videos posted to (Instagram) feeds are 15 seconds or less," Vishal Shah, Vice President of Product at Facebook, said, noting that India has an "appetite" for short-form videos.
Once a Reel is created and shared on Instagram, it appears as a Story on the profile of the poster as well as on a dedicated 'Top Reels' section on the Explore tab. There is also the option to share Reels as direct messages, but the dedicated tab in Explore will be the biggest driver of Reels, making sure they reach a wider user-base.
The move to launch Reels in India makes sense, especially considering that Facebook has already struck music licensing deals with several Indian labels, including Saregama, T-Series, ZEE Music Company, and Yash Raj Films, for its products. Not to mention, the Instagram app is already installed on millions of devices, which rules out the need of starting from scratch.
With Reels and an already active user base of short video consumers and creators/influencers, Instagram is best positioned to fill the gap created by TikTok's departure. The exact number of Instagram users in India is not clear, but we have already witnessed several cases of TikTok users migrating to Instagram following the announcement of the ban. TikTok had over 200 million users in India.
"I think it's important to think about the context of Instagram in India. We were listening hard to our consumers, that they had an appetite for the format that Reels represents," Facebook India VP Ajit Mohan said. He added, "The vibrant culture here, the demographics and the growth of video, all that created the context for it (Reels), and this was in the works."
Even though Instagram's biggest competitor in the short video segment is out of India, it may not be an easy ride for the company. This is because several home-grown video start-ups have already cropped up and are raking in millions of downloads since the departure of TikTok. The apps include Chingari, InMobi's Roposo, Mitron as well as Gaana's Hotshots.