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Can Instagram Reels steal TikTok’s crown?

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Instagram’s latest feature Reels has had many speculating over the future of TikTok. TikTok has grabbed Gen Z and Gen Alpha providing the perfect outlet for their digital creativity but can Instagram Reels with its similar format do the same?

Only 18% of the 3 million kids we speak to each week through the Beano Brain Omnibus have used Instagram Reels since it launched on the 5th August whereas nearly half (49%) had used TikTok. So we checked in with our Beano Brain Teen Trendspotter panel to see what they had to say.

It’s early days but it’s clear that Reels hasn’t captured their imagination – yet. 

“To be honest I'd never heard of it before today when I had to look for it. Reels feels like a knock-off version of TikTok because it uses the same swipe 30 second video format. I don't think it’s going to be as successful as IGTV let alone TikTok and I don't think I'm gonna use it a lot.”  Ace – 15

Over the last few years, we’ve seen teens (and kids) operate as hacking hunter-gatherers with tech. They often prefer separate apps and platforms with specialist purposes vs a “one-stop-shop".  

I don’t think TikTok should be worried because it isn’t something that you’re looking for when you go onto Instagram, if people wanted to see that type of thing they would go to TikTok.”  Selina – 14

TikTok appeals to both Gen Z’s digital creativity and their preference to co-create. TikTok’s features allows creators to both recreate videos and duet with other users which isn’t currently possible on Reels. 

I basically only see TikToks on my Instagram Reels. TikTok people have uploaded (their videos) to Insta.” - Kamiya – 15

Whereas TikTok is simple to use and transparent – Instagram Reels feels a bit hidden and not purpose driven for Teens.  

I don't personally like Reels. I think it's a good feature but just doesn't work for me as they don't stick to a certain topic and are quite random. I think they work with TikTok because it enhances what the app is about.” - James – 15

Teens and kids are digital masters, as most have grown up almost with a device in their hand. They are quite happy to flit between several apps, using each tactically and for specific purposes.  

Any platform looking for Teen appeal has to think – best in class - and it seems Instagram with its multiple functions hasn’t achieved it that just yet. 

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch. We’re here to help.


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