Instagram is making a huge change over the coming weeks by making all videos Reels if they’re under fifteen minutes long. In addition to this, they’re pushing a full-screen layout similar to TikTok. A lot of Instagram users, including some notable names, aren’t thrilled about this update. But what does this update mean, and why are people so upset? And most importantly, how does it change your digital marketing strategy? That’s what we’re going to break down for you.
What is this update?
On July 21st, Instagram announced a host of changes to their platform. There were some about Remix (Instagram’s version of Duets from TikTok), Reels Dual, and other small changes. The one that people latched to, however, was this major change:
“Since reels offer a more immersive and entertaining way to watch and create videos on Instagram, we’re bringing these creative tools and the full-screen experience to your video posts, too. In the coming weeks, new video posts shorter than 15 minutes will be shared as reels.”
This is just a short clip of what they said on the topic. If you’d like to read the full blog post, you can find it here. They included in this statement that any videos under 15 minutes uploaded to Instagram prior to the update will not be turned into Reels, but will be consolidated to the Reels tab on your profile, which will now be the Videos tab. With the recent surge in popularity of Instagram Reels, it’s no surprise Instagram is leaning into the trends and pushing for those changes. This is also in an effort to make Instagram a full-screen experience like that of TikTok, which has blown up over the last few years. Instagram says that the core of their experience is still photos, but a lot of people believe that this most recent update suggests something else.
Why the backlash?
With the update being tested with a certain percentage of users over the last few months leading up to this month’s announcement, there has been some pushback from their audience over the shift to Reels and fullscreen. A lot of people view it as Instagram trying to be TikTok, with influencers such as Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian being vocal about this claim as well as many users. There is plenty of evidence to back this claim, with Reels becoming more and more of Instagram’s focus since they released them in February of 2020. Since then, Reels has been updated more and more to reflect Tiktok, with Remixes getting updated to include a mimic of Tiktok’s stitch feature in this pending update.
Reels have been extremely successful for influencers and businesses alike, but for the everyday regular Joe user, the majority of feedback says that they just want to be able to post pictures and see pictures of their friends, rather than be bombarded with recommended Reels and influencers. Because of this feedback from the majority of users, Instagram is expected to lessen the recommended posts on the Instagram feed. However, Instagram head Adam Mosseri made a statement on Twitter saying that the Reels update will stay in place despite the backlash from users. You can view that statement here.
This isn’t the first time Instagram has been accused of trying to become a different social media platform. When they introduced Instagram Stories back in 2017, they received a lot of feedback accusing them of trying to steal Snapchat’s concept. They have since evolved their Stories to be somewhat separate from Snapchat, by including the possibility for a lot of audience interaction with built-in polls, Q&A, and many other features that Snapchat has yet to implement. But for the recent updates, it seems Instagram is trying to mimic TikTok’s success by continually implementing more of the features TikTok already has, rather than innovating and creating their own unique Reels features.
What does this update mean for your social media?
As far as social media for businesses, Instagram Reels is something your business should already have at least considered using in your social media strategy. Reels are some of the best ways to post viral content to Instagram. Reels open up a lot of opportunities to advertise your brand in an authentic way and use sounds to reach a wider audience. It’s a fun way to incorporate video and music into your content. There won’t be much of a difference other than the fact that instead of choosing which videos are Reels, all of your videos will be Reels. In fact, Reels have more reach than standard posts because of the trending music element, so the Reels update may be more beneficial for your social media success. Bear in mind, however, that there are certain limitations on business accounts for music copyright.
As for the other elements of the update, that’s up to your personal preferences. The rest of the update isn’t changing the basic functionality of Instagram or the way Instagram Businesses function, just the overall experience of a fullscreen Instagram. While the overall reception of the newest Instagram update is relatively mixed, businesses should be excited by the chance to reach a fuller scope of audiences through Reels.
If you need help with Instagram, find out how Ascent can run your social media marketing today!