Instagram Reels and what it means for brands and content creators

The new feature is similar to the ones provided by TikTok.


NEW DELHI: The ban on TikTok surely made a dent in influencer marketing since it wasn’t just a space for content creativity but also for brands to connect with audiences. This gave the opportunity for other homegrown brands to scale up. Meanwhile, Instagram introduced a new feature ‘Reels’, allowing users to record and share short videos, much like TikTok.

The new feature proposed by Instagram allows users to create and share 15-second videos with camera effects, editing tools and music. There is also a handy timer and option to adjust the video’s speed. The tool which was rolled out last week has become a quite hit among influencers and celebrities and people are trying their hands on the new feature.

However, there is a sharp distinction in where these apps were used dominantly. TikTok had a user base of 200 million in India, which was a massive user growth base, and it was highly popular in Tier II and Tier III markets, while Instagram is more widely used in metro and urban markets.

The Marcom Avenue director Divanshi Gupta shares that influencer marketing will see a shift. “Users and content creators will try to find their comfortable space amidst the chaos. But, eventually, influencer marketing will find its balance as the latest feature gains traction from the right kind of target audience and brands.”

Grapes Digital COO Shradha Agarwal explains, “With Reels, Instagram has sent a signal to the entire country that we have evolved from being aspirational to massy. They have combined Instagram music with Reels where you can look at the lyrics while selecting the song and then create snippets of videos to combine them. From a user perspective, it is easier for them as they don’t have to manage multiple social handles. Influencers have already moved to Instagram. The only challenge is that while some TikTokers had a huge following on Instagram as well others may have had just 3000 compared to millions on TikTok. So, the biggest challenge for these influencers will be to first grow their numbers and then get business from brands.”

The ban on TikTok enabled many Indian apps like Chingari, Roposo, Mitron and others to provide similar user experience and engage the disgruntled content creators and consumers. When TikTok was banned, Roposo claimed to bag 22 million users in only 48 hours. Chingari reported that the app has garnered more than 16 million users in just 25 days. Mitron also stated that the brand has observed an 11x jump in daily traffic after the ban.

However, the popularity of Instagram is huge and could have an edge over the competition. In fact, all these apps will have a tough fight attracting users towards them and gain a market share. This means that brands will have to also choose platforms.

Gupta feels that brands should be where their audiences are. “In a country like India, where the population varies from A to Z, it is difficult to find a micro-targeted audience at one place or in a particular ecosystem, especially amongst the Indian apps. With the change in demographics, gender, income and other personal factors, the choices of people change and so, to say that brands should focus more on Indian apps is quite irrational.”

Agarwal explains, “I don’t think we should focus on only Indian apps. What is the benefit of globalisation if we are not adoptive and competitive? I don’t disagree that we should be proud of using Indian brands but the country should be open to foreign brands which have an edge.”

For homegrown apps, consumer acquisition and sustenance also remains a big challenge.

Media Moments MD Sandeep Sreekumar says, “Instagram is undoubtedly the most preferred choice of brands and influencers alike. Thus, it will be quite natural and easy for both to leverage the power of Instagram and its latest feature. As far as Indian apps are considered, they are likely to face the rough waters ahead and it will be an uphill battle to fight against this social media behemoth.”

In this situation, advertisers will also play a pertinent role because influencers or content creators are usually attracted to brand endorsements and paid partnerships.

It would be interesting to see if Instagram Reels will manage to fill the void left by TikTok in India.

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