A few days ago while I was frantically looking for the trending content on my Instagram, thinking that something went wrong with the app, I was graced by the world of Tik Tok style videos instead. For whatever’s visible of the dog’s face in the screenshot below, I had a pretty similar face when I found out the trick that our dear friend had pulled out on us.
Rewinding to the end of June 2020,
when the Indian Government decided to ban the very popular and young video blogger’s favorite Tik Tok in India, Instagram’s super-efficient team did not leave a split second to come up with its own version of Tik Tok but not Tik Tok, commonly called as Reels, in India within the next 10 days. What began as testing for Instagram quickly became a popular Tik Tok replacement for a bunch of artists who relied financially on using the Chinese app for their work.
Instagram Reels offers 15 seconds of looping video clips which can be recorded with music as well as compiled with multiple video clips, similar to Tik Tok.
Instagram Reels at the Time of Testing was…somewhat bearable!
Available at the click of the Explore tab at the bottom of the screen, seeing almost 2/3rd of the screen being occupied by a reel was most certainly awkward, if not visually annoying. It may have seemed like a huge risk for Instagram to introduce a functionality within Instagram, which was technically an app in itself until it was banned in India (read Tik Tok), it was going to be a game-changer within the next few days as an escalation from testing to complete launch of the feature happened within 2 months if not more.
The Reels became a threat to Tik Tok, as they targeted the Tik Tok users and creators in India. It is said that they tapped the market primarily targeted towards the millennial (18–29 age group) across different demography, with over 60% of users willing to switch to Reels for content in urban India. It was evident that it didn’t take long for Instagram to transition the audience to reels, which was ultimately seen in the number of growing Instagram accounts in India. As we realize now, India falls second and only next to the United States, at 100 million users, the numbers seem to have only grown for Instagram since its release of Reels post the Tik Tok ban in India.
So when did the Instagram Reels become annoying?
The short answer to this is… when it was launched as a separate tab, more importantly, replaced with the Explore tab, which is now available next to the Direct Messages (DM’s) button at the top.
As per the latest update by Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, on Sept. 3rd, 2020, Instagram was rolled out as a separate tab due to the high momentum seen in the country, phew!
There’s no denying that enthusiasm to create content and persistence runs high in the country. As we quickly saw the content creators switching to using Reels, there was no surprise that it had to become a distinguishable part of the app.
But what we did not see coming is that the much loved Explore Button would have to bid goodbye to its position only to be housed next to the DM button. It did take a few seconds to realize what really happened as soon as the update came, but as I mentioned earlier, it came at the cost of leaving a frantic breath.
“It almost felt like, the Explore Tab and ultimately the Explore Screen was gone forever.”
In essence, we may have lost the tab, but it is still alive and kicking for all the users on Instagram as an assistant, without the Reels covering 2/3rd of the screen, which I declare as good news.
But replacing the Explore Tab with the Reels Tab has been a sour candy for sweet lovers as it became a tardy yet radical process to change behavior in users. It has been a cause of disappointment for many of them as clicking on now Reels-ex Explore button has led them to view reels as opposed to finding trending content.
The Final Verdict
As per Business Insider’s Report, Instagram Reels is slated to generate $2.5 Billion in yearly ad revenue by 2022. It might be too soon to say but social media marketing is still in its quest for finding the right marketing approach using reels.
Whereas for the feature, Instagram has swiftly showcased its dynamic approach to re-package existing products as new through innovation, while keeping aside the brassiness caused by the re-positioning of the Explore tab.