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Instagram ReelsBusiness Insider
While Facebook’s Lasso failed to take off, Reels could have a higher chance of success for its prime positioning inside...
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Can Instagram Reels be a new home for TikTokers?

While Facebook’s Lasso failed to take off, Reels could have a higher chance of success for its prime positioning inside...
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  • Facebook shut down its TikTok-clone Lasso worldwide to be able to concentrate on its alternative ‘Instagram Reels.’
  • We speak to digital experts to find out if Facebook’s Instagram Reels has what it takes to fill up the void and crop up as a perfect alternative for the talent on TikTok in India?
With the recent border row between China and India, the Government of India ordered a ban on 59 Chinese apps that included TikTok, Likee, Bigo Live. This has left Indian content creators from Tier II and Tier III in the lurch as TikTok opened up an opportunity for these budding stars to become influencers, earn money through brand endorsements and some of them even left their old jobs to pursue TikTok full-time.

This ban on video apps has left a void in the life of TikTok stars, who are now looking for a new home to showcase their talent.

To take on this opportunity, Facebook is quietly testing Instagram Reels in India. Similar to TikTok, it will allow its users to create and share 15-seconds videos, with camera effects, basic editing tools and music. There is also a handy timer and option to adjust the video’s speed. It can be shared on a user's story, sent to friends directly or added to a new Reels tab on their profile (displayed below).



Instagram Reels is already active in Brazil, France and Germany and Facebook is looking at expanding its presence in other countries. While there are many Indian alternatives for TikTok like Mitron, Chingari, Roposo, Bolo Indya -- Instagram’s Reels can have an upper hand as it will be added as a feature -- housed inside the app, eliminating any additional hassle.

While Facebook’s Lasso, a TikTok-clone launched in November 2018, failed to take off, Reels could have a higher chance of success for its prime positioning inside the Instagram app.

Most TikTokers are already relying on Instagram to create content and stay in touch with their fans. With Reels, they can now explore and revert to their favourite format without downloading another app and starting from scratch. It could be strategic in attracting Instagram’s loyal user base of more than 88 million in India, which is among the second top market for the app according to Statista.com, much of whom are millenials and Generation Z which was TikTok’s primary target audience.

We spoke to digital experts to further understand if Reels has what it takes to replace TikTok and how Facebook should learn from its erstwhile mistakes with Lasso and go about marketing Reels this time. Here is what they said:

Sowmya Iyer, Founder & CEO, DViO Digital:

"Tik Tok has forever changed the behavior of social media users. The ban on the platform has created a void in the lives of content creators who would quickly jump onto any platform that gives them the space to express themselves. And this is not just true for Instagram Reels but also for a host of Indian applications, which offer a similar experience. If the ban on Tik Tok still persists, leveraging the large base of Instagram users in India, the adoption of Reels among users should be easier without much friction or resistance.

Geopolitical tensions are creating some level of impact on large global players. Secondly, we as humanity are going through a change and there is a collective rise in consciousness. There has also been a shift with many brands moving towards Purpose rather than just Profits. And consumers are choosing brands that are understanding to their needs. Advertisers choosing not to advertise on Facebook is a result of these dynamics in play. Large businesses like Facebook need to pivot with where and how humanity is going and should align themselves with the collective larger cause as ultimately the content creators and consumers of these platforms are the general populace. So people will begin to boycott platforms that they don't philosophically identify with. But that's one part which is solvable if the right steps are taken. Therefore, these factors should be taken into account while launching the application in India.

Not only Reels, but many such apps will also jump on board to fill the void and this would likely divide up the creator base left behind by Tik Tok. This is for the best because the monopoly of one particular platform is never good for brands or advertisers or even themselves from an innovation standpoint. But obviously the established user base of Instagram would work in its favor and serve as a jumpstart for its success. No matter the level of competition we would see in this space, it is required to keep the larger players on the right track."

Vinayak Shrivastav, CEO - Toch:

There couldn't have been a better time for Instagram reels to be introduced in India. With existing Instagram users available, positive growth can be a possibility by asking the users to test the feature before launching it in the market.

The safest concept of promoting an influencer-oriented app is for the brand to announce live contests. Implementing the idea of an influencer badge or something similar would definitely get the creators curious for verified content to achieve more visibility. Running an influencer campaign could also help garner attention to Instagram Reels. We at Toch are also looking at having a B2C presence and testing the market which will allow influencers to earn money from their content, also enabling live commerce or branded content selling through the platform instantly.

With the increase in the sentimental value of Indian Apps Promotion being high, an unforeseen barrier in traction might happen. With a lot of bans being implied on brands from advertising a decent amount of branded content could be witnessed. Facebook being the social media giant that it is, the initial scale could be good enough to test the market.

Nakul Dutt, Strategy Director, FoxyMoron:

Launching Reels would be a no brainer move. In fact, Instagram has already started testing the ‘Reels’ feature with select customers of the platform. Driving adoption to the scale of TiKTok, on the other hand, is a whole different battle. For TikTok users Instagram was a secondary platform to enhance one’s reach and overall engagement. In the absence of TikTok, while Reels is the obvious answer (unless a new local players quickly jumps in at this point), if launched, transitioning the existing database of TikTok users and getting them acquainted and comfortable on Reels will be a mammoth task for reasons dealt with in the next question.

Transitioning the database of TikTok users and getting them acquainted with Reels will be a mammoth task for the multitude of reasons mentioned:

An Anomaly: Last year India contributed to around 44% of the 1.6 Bn downloads of TikTok worldwide. The key reason for the success of the App in India was the ‘Bottom Up’ adoption of the platform. In the last couple of years adoption of internet has increased in tier 2 & 3 cities and TikTok was able to win the heart of this new user base & become the no. 1 App in almost no time. This is contrary to the ‘Diffusion of Innovation’ theory where any new platform, feature or innovation is first adopted by early adopters and over a period of time snowballs to attain the attention of the masses. TikTok however, resonated with the masses first,while Instagram went through the conventional model of adoption. This created a fundamental difference in the profile of users of the platform with each cohort looking at the other from a different perspective.

It's all in the Senses: To understand the ‘Why’ TikTok was as appealing as it was, it’s important to understand the Perceived Reason of Existence’ that each social media platform plays in a consumers' life. While Facebook is a platform of ‘Touch’ it lets you connect & feel about people in your circle, Instagram is the platform for the ‘EYE’- aesthetics & beauty, the showcase of the perfection you desire in your world.TikTok on the other hand is ‘Heart’ – showcase your passion, like the heart, which wants to do certain things without the filter. This gap is what needs to be bridged!

The TikTok In-App features made Creators self-sufficient: Considering most of India does not have access to high end equipment to produce slick high quality content. TikTok became a one stop shop to shoot, edit and publish content using one’s mobile. At a cursory glance the editing features of Reels seems limited as compared to TikTok.

Inclusivity Will Be Required: An editing feature alone might not solve the problem at hand. Comfort and inclusivity are the key terms here. TikTok was a social media app where social barriers were broken. We hadn’t seen this happen at the scale it did, with Facebook and Instagram. Inclusivity through a vernacular approach, both at an App and at a promotional campaign level will be required.

Share vs Showcase: Instagram’s algorithm is built around the concept of share, where the content populated is likely from the people and pages you follow. On the other hand, one’s ‘For You’ page of TikTok was curated from the trending content within the ecosystem of TikTok. We will need to see how Reels can bridge this gap.

Balance: While acquiring new users for the platform is key, retaining the existing will also become a key metric. Instagram is a visual medium and appeals to a certain segment of creators. Instagram should take all the measures to retain this appeal. While showcasing Reels as a fun light hearted platform for their users to showcase their passions.

Enabling & empowering : It would be a good strategic move, if Reels adds features which would help the transitioning customers to create content with least friction 3. How should Facebook go about promoting Reels once it is live in our country?

In addition to several of my points mentioned above these will be the 2 additional points that they could consider in their promotions

Facebook will need to address the elephant in the room. 75% consumers are comfortable adopting a brand which supports and believes in social causes. With more than 50 brands boycotting Facebook, it’s only a matter of time the same lens would be applied to Instagram considering the mother brand is the same.

Reels is Feature for Everyone Raw, unfiltered and authentic were TikToks main strengths. This made TiKTok an inclusive platform. Considering one’s digital identity supersedes their real one, TiK Tok made all their users feel comfortable and gave them a platform to be their authentic self. It gave them a platform to showcase their talent. They didn’t need to bother with aesthetics, filters or a nice looking backdrop. Maybe Reels could consider having a backdrop filter, so people can perform against different aesthetically pleasing backgrounds. (It would be a great way for brand’s to plug in their content / product / logo too.)

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