Instagram tests a feature making all video posts 'Reels'

As apps like TikTok fuel the rise of short form video content, Meta looks to expand its own bite-sized equivalent – Instagram Reels.

A screenshot posted by social media consultant Matt Navarra shows a message from Instagram’s app saying, “video posts are now shared as Reels.” Navarra noted in another screenshot that Facebook is also encouraging users to post videos as Reels.

Meta told TechCrunch the change is currently being tested with select users worldwide “as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram.”

The company unveiled Reels in August 2020, inviting users to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos that can be enhanced with creative effects.

Those with public accounts, Meta said, can share their Reels to Instagram’s Explore tab – where they can be discovered by the wider Instagram community. While Reels posted by private accounts can only be shared with a user’s followers, and people are unable to use the original audio from a private account’s Reels.

Meta’s test suggests the company might phase out its long-form video content – perhaps to compete with the likes of TikTok. TikTok as of late has fallen under scrutiny for potential data sharing concerns – with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr calling for the app’s removal from Apple and Google’s app stores.

Reels, along with ads and the metaverse, make up Meta’s main investment priorities, CEO Mark Zuckerberg highlighted during the company’s first quarter earnings call. He noted Reels make up more than 20% of the time people spend on Instagram.

Zuckerberg also pointed out Meta is still figuring out optimal ways to monetize Reels.

“It's like when we started doing Stories, they had ads that were designed for News Feed,” he said. “And it just took some time for them to create effective content for Stories. And I think we're going to see the same thing for Reels.”

With both Instagram and Facebook Reels at its disposal, Meta's combination of Instagram and Facebook could stand to surpass TikTok in revenue by end of 2023, according to Truist analyst Youssef Squali – per Seeking Alpha.

"While Meta continues to face meaningful headwinds from macro factors (economic slowdown, inflation, etc), changes to user privacy rules, and an expensive bet on a yet to be proven metaverse, we believe that the headwind of competition, especially from TikTok, is waning," Squali noted in a research report.

The Next Web’s Callum Booth, on the other hand, thinks Meta’s enhanced focus on Reels is a hasty attempt to overtake TikTok's audience.

“Effectively, Meta is panicking,” Booth wrote. “Its main competitor is attracting a younger audience that spends far more time on the app than its own.”

He noted while Instagram is numerically ahead of TikTok – 1.4 billion versus 1 billion users, respectively – Meta and particularly Facebook have become popular with the older crowd, while TikTok is catering more to the younger Gen Z audience.