It’s hard to deny that TikTok has been the social media success story of the last couple of years. The Chinese social media company’s short-form video format has been a smash hit, especially with Gen Z users. But its success has been fraught with geopolitical controversy in the US, where President Donald Trump has threatened to ban the app on the grounds that it might represent a national security risk.
It’s hard to say whether such security concerns are justified, but the assault on TikTok is no longer limited to the political realm. With the launch of Reels, a new 15-second video feature that looks strikingly similar to TikTok, Instagram has made a clear move to shut down the competition by aping it.
Instagram Reels, which promises superior advertising and commerce infrastructure, could see off TikTok in much the same way that Instagram Stories tackled the threat of Snapchat.
Interestingly, though Instagram may be making an overt grab for TikTok’s USP, it’s likely targeting a slightly different demographic. TikTok’s user base is notably younger than Instagram’s, so Reels looks like an attempt to recreate TikTok’s format while playing to an older, more commercially engaged demographic.
It has been accused of copying TikTok but early indicators look good for Instagram Reels. Gabby Murray, one of America’s foremost TikTok stars, posted a video wearing an Ivory Ella T-shirt which attracted 17 million views in the first 24 hours on Instagram Reels. On TikTok, the same video garnered 2.1 million views in three days.