Instagram Reels review: it’s like TikTok


On Wednesday, Instagram kicked off its most anticipated US update since Stories or the Dog Filter: its TikTok competitor, Reels.

And, I have to say, Reels is a lot like TikTok.

Of course, all of this couldn’t have come at a better time for Instagram or its parent company, Facebook. President Donald Trump has started waging an all-out war against TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Last weekend, Trump threatened to ban the United States’ app over what he called concerns about what the company was doing with U.S. data.

In the midst of the drama, Instagram had the fortuitous chance (although I didn’t put anything in front of Mark Zuckerberg) to drop what is essentially a TikTok clone. (Speaking of which, published emails cited during a Congressional hearing last week revealed that Facebook had bought Instagram in the first place in order to “neutralize” a competitor. “)

It really is a strangely similar product. I got access to Reels on Monday before the US public launch and was immediately amazed at how TikTok-y Reels felt.

With the push of a button, you can scroll through the reels almost exactly as you scroll through your ForYou page, falling into the same kind of insane and addicting scroll hole that has made TikTok a favorite pandemic time-loser of millions of people. .

Early Access was only open to certain editors, influencers, and journalists, so there weren’t as many random teens, hilarious videos, and funny animals that you would see on TikTok, and the video pool. was much smaller. Much of the culture seems to have taken the leap, however, with many of the same memes, songs, and sounds I normally see on my ForYou page showing up on Reels.

In fact, scrolling through Reels on Tuesday, I saw a video of Ashley Tisdale that I had literally just seen on my ForYou page on TikTok. A lot of people just seem to upload old TikToks to Reels which makes a lot of sense, tbh.

Instagram Fashion Director Eva Chen recreated a huge TikTok trend with her daughter on her first foray into Reels. And when I wanted to show it to my followers, all I had to do was share it and I could upload it to my Instagram story.

Publishers like Bravo have also prepared for the upcoming launch by helpfully uploading viral moments for people to interpret, which is a very popular trend on TikTok.

Of course, TikTok has a lot to offer that Reels doesn’t. I’m admittedly horrible at content creation (which is why I mention this instead), and I can’t speak in depth about how the TikTok video creation experience compares to Reels. (I’ve tried making videos on both platforms, and they feel pretty much the same in terms of usability).

TikTok’s popular features, like the ability to “Duet” with other videos, aren’t available on Reels, and TikTok has, of course, built its own culture of memes, sounds, and creators that will be hard to emulate. completely. TikTok also has its famous algorithm for discovering videos, which will be hard to match.

However, my main takeaway from Reels is the same that ultimately led me to stop using Snapchat once Instagram launched Stories. It’s just so easy to have everything in one place.

With Reels, I can easily switch between my stories, my Explore page, and then TikTok-style videos in one app. I don’t need to create a brand new follow on TikTok and I can see what people I already follow on Instagram are posting. If I see a funny video that I want to share with my followers, I can easily share it with my stories without having to switch apps. I’ve been able to see influencers, many of whom have launched TikToks in recent months to keep up with trends, just posting to Reels instead and not worrying about building a new fan base on a new platform.

Of course, there are a lot of people, especially teens and young adults, who use TikTok as their primary social media app, who won’t be tempted to switch. But for those who primarily use Instagram and / or Facebook, the ease of Reels will make them an extremely tempting alternative.

It’s just handy to have all of your followers and all of your content in one place. And Instagram, as always, simply allowed more time to be spent on it.


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