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Instagram yesterday announced the extension of Reels, a new video format, to India. Reels offers a new way of creating and sharing short videos on Instagram and is aimed at redefining the future of entertainment on the platform. India is the fourth country, after Brazil, Germany and France, where this new format is being tested.

Speaking to BuzzInContent.com, industry experts said the introduction of the format is well-timed for India and its markets. The format will get quickly adapted by brands, influencers and masses as the platform is trusted and used by the larger population, they said.
Shrenik Gandhi

Shrenik Gandhi, Co-Founder and CEO, White Rivers Media, says with the audience spending more time on Instagram and with 'spare' time available, Reels is a great addition. “The democratisation of content had hit a speed-breaker and influencers and Indians at large have been patiently waiting for a strong(er) replacement,” said Gandhi.

Sandeep Sreekumar

After the ban of Chinese apps such as TikTok, Helo and others in India, influencers who enjoyed a huge fan base on these platforms had suffered a setback. Now with the introduction of Instagram Reels, their sentiments have been revived, says Sandeep Sreekumar, Managing Director at Media Moments.

Marketers were waiting in anticipation for an app that can fill the gap.

Instagram is undoubtedly the most preferred choice of brands and influencers alike. Thus it will be quite natural and easy for both brands and influencers to leverage the power of Instagram and its latest feature, Sreekumar said.

Sameer Makani

It would be aspirational to say but a feature like this could potentially widen the user base in remote cities as well, which in turn will bring more opportunities to marketers to reach out to unconventional influencers in these regions, says Sameer Makani, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Makani Creatives.

As long as user engagement picks up quickly, budgets will follow, the experts said. 

Neel Gogia

However, according to Neel Gogia, Co-founder, IPLIX Media, Reels will not become the first preference for creators as of now as it’s a new feature and it will take time to decide which kind of audience it caters to and which kind of objective a brand can fulfil from the same.

Pranay Swarup

Reels will diversify the type of creators on Instagram and allow more dynamic, engaging short-form content, says Pranay Swarup, Founder, Chtrbox.com.

“I also think India will see more content creation because a core feature of Reels will be fun filters and edits that make it easier to make better, catchier content for a 'broader audience'. We might see a new generation of creators born out of Reels, and other emerging platforms. It's a good time to be an influencer,” said Swarup.

“We are positive that a lot of brands will leverage the additional time spent on the app within hours or days of launch,” said Siddharth Devnani, Co-Founder and Partner, SoCheers.

With the introduction of Reels and the new set of creators and viewers that will follow, it makes Instagram more lucrative for brands to advertise on as a platform.

Will Reels dominate home-grown short format video apps?

While home-grown brands with similar working style have emerged after the TikTok ban, Instagram has introduced a well-established infrastructure which local apps will take time to create. This provides an upper hand to Instagram in dominating the market as it has been a preferred platform for brands for a few years now.

Sudish Balan

“Yes, this format will give a tough time to other home-grown apps that have come into fray to own the TikTok pie. It will be tough for these apps to compete with the prowess of Instagram with its 165 million monthly active user base. Besides, none of the other apps is as robustly built or user intuitive. Reels has been able to imitate TikTok to a large extent in terms of the interface and AR Filter offerings. This guarantees TikTok creators will easily adapt to the new interface without missing a beat,” said Sudish Balan, Chief Business Officer, Tonic Worldwide.

As far as the Indian apps are considered, they are likely to face rough waters ahead and it will be an uphill battle to fight against this social media behemoth, Sreekumar said.

“We feel it will be interesting to see whether brands continue marking their presence on the Indian apps or shift towards Instagram Reels,” said Sreekumar.

Gogia said the format will allow creators to use the platform differently and they can think of more creative ideas to get content to the viewers. It’s going to be interesting to see how creators from TikTok (which has already mastered the art of short videos) will create content on a completely different platform.  

Sameer Makani, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Makani Creatives, said, ‘Reels’ feature from Instagram could potentially change the demographics of Instagram as the TikTok ban has made its creators shift platforms rapidly. While some have opted for home-grown short video platforms, most have shifted to YouTube or Instagram. 

It has the potential to dominate home-grown apps as Instagram already has a loyal user base and a proven history of rolling out quality products and tech. However, so do platforms like ShareChat, Mitron. So time will tell, Swarup said.

Instagram is used by over a billion people globally across many surfaces – Feed, Stories, IGTV and Live. With Reels, people can express themselves while entertaining others, whether that’s by trying out a fun new dance or spreading the message on something they care about. People can record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools on Reels; share them with their followers on Feed; and, if they have a public account, make their Reels available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore.

Sharing Reels in Explore allows people to access a larger audience, especially since more than 50% of accounts on Instagram globally visit Explore every month. Explore can showcase an entertaining selection of Reels made by public accounts on Instagram, which may inspire people to create their next reel.

The feature will start rolling out to users in India from 7:30 pm IST and at the onset, will be populated with content from a diverse set of public figures and creators such as Ammy Virk, Gippy Grewal, Komal Pandey, Arjun Kanungo, JahnaviDasetty aka Mahathalli, Indrani Biswas aka Wondermunna, Kusha Kapila, Radhika Bangia, RJ Abhinav and AnkushBhaguna.

Speaking on the launch, Ajit Mohan, Vice-President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said, “With the rise in video consumption overall and videos making up over a third of posts on Instagram in India, Instagram has a big role to play in unleashing expression in the country. People across the big and small cities of India come to Instagram to express themselves safely and also to be entertained. With Reels, we’re unveiling the future of entertainment on the platform, in a way that ignites creativity. With the multiple creative formats, whichever way you want to express yourself, it can now be on Instagram.”

Vishal Shah, Vice-President of Product, Facebook, said "Instagram has always been a place where culture is created because people come to share the things they care about and be entertained. We’re constantly listening to our community, and have heard that they want to make and watch short-form videos on Instagram and have the opportunity to be discovered by our broader community. We’re excited to expand the test of Reels to India and give the next generation of creators born and bred in India a chance to share their native and cultural context — and be potential global stars."

India is the fourth country, after Brazil, Germany and France, where this new format is being tested. This entertainment experience builds on the work done in the past year to enable expression, such as the vast library of music available on the platform thanks to a partnership with prominent music labels; the Spark AR effects on Instagram that enable more creation and expression on the platform; and the ‘Born on Instagram’ programme, which has led to discovery and growth of creators from all across India. 

Content@BuzzInContent.com