It’s Way Too Early To Count Out Instagram Reels
Despite the narrative, TikTok hasn’t crushed Reels just yet.
When Joy Ridenhour, a junior communications major at NYU, returned home to Virginia for winter break this year, she heard familiar music coming from her parents’ phones. “I was like, huh, it’s interesting they’re watching TikTok,” she said. “But then I realized they weren’t using TikTok, they had discovered Instagram Reels.”
TikTok is giving Facebook an “unprecedented” fight, as Mark Zuckerberg conceded last week, but the battle will be fiercer than many imagine. Despite the narrative that Facebook is cooked, the company is already cutting off TikTok’s growth by feeding its copycat — Reels — to people like Ridenhour’s parents, who might’ve been late TikTok adopters but likely won’t be now.
Reels may still be an inferior product, but it has several advantages that don’t fit neatly into stories about Facebook’s demise. Here are some key factors to consider when assessing the fight between the two social giants, relayed with as much nuance as possible:
Instagram’s 2 Billion Users vs. TikTok’s 1 Billion
TikTok reached 1 billion monthly users last fall — a major feat — but Instagram reportedly hit 2 billion monthly users a few months later. To maintain its fast-paced growth, TikTok must win over people like Ridenhour’s parents, who will likely see no reason to download an app that’s essentially the same as Reels. “They were never interested in TikTok,” Ridenhour said. There are 1 billion people in this camp.
That said, Instagram Reels could be a gateway drug for younger users, who may find TikTok after experimenting with Reels. Ridenhour’s 14-year-old brother, for instance, began using Reels, then downloaded TikTok, and now prefers it over Instagram.
Facebook’s Cash Reserves
When a social media company with tens of billions in cash reserves gets scared by a competitor, it typically tries to spend that competitor into oblivion. And that’s exactly what’s happening with Facebook and TikTok. This summer…