Instagram launches Tiktok competitor, Reels, in Australia

Instagram’s challenger to Tiktok, Reels, has launched in Australia today.

Cited as a ‘new Instagram format’, Reels gives users the ability to create short-form, edited videos with audio and music. It appears as another content creation function within the Instagram app, and joins the platform’s content offering of Stories, Live, IGTV, photography and video.

Reels will be available as a new create tool and appear in a seperate profile tab

The launch of Reels comes in the midst of growing global concern Tiktok and its Chinese parent company, Byte Dance, are feeding users’ data to the Chinese Government. Tiktok has denied the allegations and attempted to distance itself from its parent company’s roots. The app was banned in India at the end of June, and the same move has since been suggested in the US.

In July, the social media platform went on the PR offensive in Australia, publishing full-page ads in newspapers across the country with the plea “Don’t make Tiktok a political football”.

Globally, Tiktok is reportedly in talks to sell its US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand operations to Microsoft. Last week Tiktok CEO, Kevin Mayer, lashed out at Facebook, stating Reels was a ‘copycat product’ and a “maligning [attack] by our competitor… disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US”.

Instagram announced Reels’ upcoming US launch in July. It was being tested in India at the start of that month, following Tiktok’s ban.

Speaking on the release of Reels in Australia, Will Easton, managing director of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, said it comes in response to growing Instagram user demand for short-form video content.

“Instagram is where millions of Australians come everyday to express themselves and be entertained. Our community is telling us they want to make and watch short-form, edited videos, which is exactly how we’ve developed the Reels experience. Whether you are a creator with a passion to share or a business with a story to tell, our new Reels format empowers your creativity and helps you reach new audiences on a global stage,” he said.

Upon the release, Instagram also said that its full range of privacy and safety features has been built into Reels, so users can manage who sees the content, filter comments and restrict viewing.

According to Instagram, in the past month, 45% of all videos posted to the platform were under 15 seconds.

Reels offers video editing tools including speed controls, AR effects, countdown, a new align tool and a timer. Reels can also be formed using multiple video clips edited together.

An Instagram user’s Reels will appear in a new tab on their profile, alongside IGTV, tagged photos and their grid page. It will also change the format of the Explore page, putting Reels front and centre.

To mark its launch, Instagram provided a step-by-step guide on accessing and using Reels.

  1. Select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. You’ll see a variety of creative editing tools on the left side of your screen that you can use to create your reel, including Music, AR Effects, Align Tool, Timer and others. Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery.

  2. Record the first clip by pressing and holding the capture button. You’ll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record. Stop recording to end each clip.

  3. Once your reel is ready, choose the share button, where you can change the cover image, add a caption, hashtags, and tag your friends. You can also save a draft of your reel if you want to pause and come back to it.

  4. After you share your reel, it will live on a separate Reels tab on your profile, where people can find the reels you’ve shared. You’ll be able to see likes and comments, and how many times your reel has been played.

  5. Whether you have a public or private account, you can share your reel to your Story, close friends, or in a direct message. If you opt to do so, your reel will behave like a regular Story — it will not be shared to Reels in Explore, will not appear on your profile, and will disappear after 24 hours.

It is not the first time Instagram has launched a product that resembles that of a competitor. In 2016, Instagram released Stories, a response to Snapchat’s own Stories function of 10-second posts that lasted for 24 hours. The launch was widely acknowledged to be a ‘direct rip off’ of Snapchat’s product.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.