What are Instagram Reels, and What Do They Mean for TikTok?

Instagram Reels Versus TikTok

Instagram grabbed headlines this week with the announcement of Reels, a new short-form video feature aimed at its newest rival: TikTok. 

How Instagram Reels work

The new format allows creators to record 15-second videos with access to editing tools, music overlays, and visual effects. Reels can be shared privately with friends or publicly: in the creator’s feed, grid, stories, and in a new section of the Explore tab. 

The dedicated Reels section in the Explore tab lets users easily scroll through popular Reels from Instagram accounts they don’t yet follow, giving creators a chance to be discovered by a wider audience. Reels play as looping videos, allowing them to easily rack up high view counts given the short-form, snackable nature of the content.

What data is available for Instagram Reels?

Analytics for Reels seem to be limited to basic public metrics such as views, likes, and comments at the moment. It’s possible that Instagram will add more reporting data for Reels in the future, especially for Creator and Business accounts, which already have access to more robust private analytics for Stories and IGTV videos. TikTok, by comparison, offers creators more metrics, including views, likes, comments, shares, watchtime, traffic sources, and an audience overview.

What do Instagram Reels mean for creators?

Like any new creative format, Reels offer another way for creators to express themselves and share engaging content with their audience. The 15-second video length for Reels may be a limitation relative to TikTok’s 60-second format, but Instagram seems to be banking on user’s preference to watch extremely short, snackable videos on loop (a la Vine) or scroll through a never-ending feed of popular clips.

We recommend creators experiment with Reels to see if they like the format and can create fun content their audience will enjoy. Reels won’t be a good fit for everyone, but for short-form video influencers that are already creating content for TikTok and similar apps, Reels are a natural extension of your content distribution strategy.

What do Instagram Reels mean for TikTok?

All of this comes while TikTok’s fate hangs in the balance. President Trump signed an executive order to ban the popular social media app in the U.S., citing national security concerns. Whether or not he has the authority to do so, or if such a move will result in an outright ban remains to be seen. But it is likely his executive order will make it very difficult for TikTok to operate within the U.S. and allow similar services, so called “TikTok clones” like Byte and Triller, to gain traction.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company Bytedance has repeatedly claimed that it does not share user data with any foreign government, including China, but that hasn’t done much to alleviate policymakers’ concerns about the app. Meanwhile, TikTok is exploring an acquisition by a U.S. company, with Microsoft appearing as the frontrunner. It’s unclear whether a change in ownership will satisfy President Trump or what additional regulatory hurdles may lie ahead. Congress, for example, seems to be increasingly worried about the far-reaching power of American tech giants, particularly Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, all of which testified in a six-hour antitrust hearing last week. 

As a result, Instagram Reels comes at an especially bad time for TikTok and poses yet another threat to the company’s survival. Facebook and Instagram have a history of copying popular features from other social platforms, from live streaming and long-form video to Stories, which have now become the primary way users share content on Instagram. 

We predict that TikTok will be able to overcome these political hurdles, but it’s going to face a much more competitive landscape going forward. While TikTok has been distracted by these regulatory and PR challenges, Byte and Triller have had more time to grow, not to mention a lot of free press. And Instagram, which already has a massive user base and more monetization options for creators, is now in a good position with Reels to prevent influencers and audiences from defecting to other social platforms, much like they did with Snapchat after the launch of IG Stories.

Ultimately, Reels is yet another signal of Instagram’s continued push into video and its ruthless approach to competition. IGTV hasn’t been the runaway success Instagram was hoping for, serving more as an outlet for premium content publishers and traditional media companies than the platform’s native creator community. Audiences seem to prefer the casual content offered via Stories and timeline posts, so Reels presents an opportunity for Instagram to play more heavily in the UGC video space, which delivers even more time on site and better monetization.

What do you think of the new Reels feature? Are you enjoying the content or finding that Instagram feels more bloated as they continue to add more features to the app? Do you think Instagram Reels is a TikTok killer? Let us know in the comments below!

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    What We Made This Year: Product Update

    Holy road map, Batman! If you’re familiar with Paladin, you know that early versions of our software were developed when YouTube was still an adolescent platform and when it was practically the only online venue for video creators. So much has changed since that time. For us 2017 was Paladin’s coming-out party, when we consolidated our tech solutions into a single platform and introduced a collection of features leading up to the launch of our brand campaign management solution.

    One User, Multiple Social Media Accounts

    If there was a theme to our tech development this year, it was a response to the increasingly multi-platform nature of our space. When the year started, you could sign in to Paladin (or apply to join a network using a Paladin dashboard) with YouTube but not including accounts from other platforms. But early in the year, we created One User Profiles. It’s a capability that enables creators to join or log in using multiple accounts, with platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In turn, our software now aggregates and tracks the presence and performance of creator accounts across these platforms. Treating each creator as a single user with multiple accounts and data points has, by design, enabled new features that are advantageous for creators, networks, and brands.

    Single Platform

    Paladin was initially developed as three separate product suites: one each for network management, digital rights management, and talent discovery. Each had a slightly different user interface and required a separate login from customers who used more than one of these products.

    Establishing Paladin as a single platform became a major goal in the evolution of our product. We achieved it in May, meaning our customers need to sign in only once to use multiple Paladin tools. Developing single-platform Paladin meant streamlining the design of each solution, and having a unified homepage from which our customers could easily jump from tool to tool. This change wasn’t only about ease of use. It was about a shift in mindset and organization, the idea that all the account and performance information Paladin collects on creators, individual network data (which is private to each network, of course), and more become a cohesive whole for comprehensive insights and tools that talk to one another.

    (Here’s a related fun fact: Paladin actually has the largest private data trove of its kind, tracking over 20 billion views per month.)

    Monetization & Payments

    Payments were as much of a priority this year as they always are for us (hint: we like to say we’re a leader in creator payments). In particular, we added an Asset Manager tool to help assign and pay out YouTube revenue where no Asset Channel ID is available in YouTube’s reports, and we enabled support for automating YouTube Red Music payouts. The latter automatically calculates payment rates by country, eliminating hassle so our customers don’t have to manually do the math by region.

    We also incorporated support for new revenue streams, YouTube’s Super Chat and Sponsorships features (now commonly used by esports and gaming creators) that fall within the YouTube Paid Features Report. This update makes it easy to handle the unique revenue arrangements that networks may have with specific creators for Super Chat and related features. To eliminate other manual headaches, we also added the ability to enter different revenue shares for videos on a partner’s own channel versus videos claimed on their behalf.

    Staying one step ahead of new and revised payments reports is what we do.


    Our biggest new solution of the year was our Social Campaign Management tool for managing brand campaigns across platforms including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

    Campaigns allows sales teams to easily find creators that align with the brand or agency being pitched, and to share beautiful, auto-generated RFP responses that are constantly updating with creators’ latest data.

    Further, once a campaign has been sold, our customers can automatically track posts across each creator’s social media accounts. They can also aggregate data into automatically updated and shareable reports so third parties (usually brands) are always on the same page.

    The bottom line is that Campaigns makes it way easier to package and pitch talent for brand campaigns, and to monitor campaign performance in real time.

    Campaigns functionality continues to grow, and we’ll have exciting news to share on that front soon.

    Data Insights

    Having reliable data on individual talent, and aggregated across your network overall, is more complex and crucial than ever. We saw our clients struggling to aggregate data from multiple YouTube CMS accounts, as well as individual social accounts for each creator, so we dove into creating a solution.

    With our Data Insights tool (now in beta), we leverage the power of the Paladin data warehouse to show a high-level snapshot of metrics such as views, followers, and more per platform across your network, as well as detailed analytics per creator so talent managers can audit performance and help creators grow with ease.

    As our industry matures, having access to smartly organized business intelligence becomes increasingly mission-critical. It’s a way of making more informed decisions about creator roster and content creation choices, and even of determining the value and direction of your network.

    Stay tuned for more about Data Insights in 2018. Finally, last but most important:

    The People

    This is not part of the platform, but we wouldn’t have the platform without these folks! We have two incredible teams of developers (one in Krakow, Poland; the other in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) whose discipline, talent, and productivity made our big year possible. We were also fortunate to have experienced team members branch out from their usual roles at Paladin and use their insight to inform our products. Our Head of Design project managed the development of the Campaigns tool, and a longtime Accounts Manager applied her knowledge of customer needs to our Creator Relationship Management dev team – ensuring that our network and creator dashboards continually evolve in response to client pain points.

    If you’d like to learn more about any of the projects we described here, email us at [email protected]

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