Meta has just rolled out Facebook Reels worldwide, allowing users to share short videos on Facebook. Like TikTok, Facebook users can create and cross-post short-form content with music, audio, text overlays, and AR effects. After a soft launch in September, the service will be available to users in over 150 countries.
It's too early to know for sure, but can Reels capture TikTok's ever-growing audience? And what do Reels mean for Meta?
Facebook Reels, Explained
Meta describes Reels as "fun and inspiring short videos" that users share with fans in their newsfeed and new audiences in a separate Reels section. You can create a Reel in the Facebook app or your smartphone.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of Reels is the monetization opportunities the service provides. The Reels Play bonus program — part of an eye-watering $1 billion investment in Reels by Meta — pays content creators up to $35,000 a month in ad revenue.
Why Has Meta Launched Reels?
Meta says Facebook and Instagram users spend half of their time on these platforms watching videos, so Reels is the best way for new creators to make money, connect with audiences, get exposure, and improve the brand experience. There's certainly a huge audience for more short-form content on the internet. TikTok generates hundreds of millions of views, and it's likely Meta wants a slice of the video-sharing market.
How Is Reels Different From Other Video-Sharing Services?
To differentiate itself from TikTok and Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels has a couple of unique features that might satisfy content creators. A 'remix' feature lets users create a Reel alongside an existing one and include content from another creator's video. Then there's the opportunity to create 60-second Reels automatically.
Other features include:
Drafts: Users can create a Reel, save a draft, and come back to it later.
Video-clipping: Creators can 'clip' longer videos into Reels and share them on the platform.
Reels in Stories: Users can share public Reels to Facebook Stories, which might give creators more exposure.
Reels in Watch: Users can watch Reels within Facebook's Watch tab.
Meta hasn't rolled out all of these features yet but will invest heavily in the new service in the next few months.
Facebook Reels vs. TikTok
Reels has lots of similarities to TikTok, which overtook Facebook as the world's most downloaded app last summer. While many content creators will use both platforms to target audiences with content, there are significant differences between the two social networks when it comes to reach. That's because TikTok targets a younger audience, and nearly half of its users are under the age of 30. Facebook, on the other hand, skews older: The average user in the United States is aged 40.5.
These demographic differences could make Reels a more lucrative option for content creators depending on their targeted audiences.
Digital Marketing Opportunities for Content Creators
Facebook Reels isn't even six months old, so it's impossible to predict whether Meta's new service will be a success. However, Facebook still holds incredible clout for content creators who want to increase visibility and reach a global audience. With 2.91 billion monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2021, Facebook remains the world's most-used social media platform, providing unparalleled marketing and digital media opportunities for video makers.
Then there's Meta's Ad Manager, which handles all the advertising on Reels. Ad Manager provides creators with a place to monetize content, track videos, and manage ad exchanges and third-party networks.
Will Reels Overtake TikTok?
It's unlikely TikTok's most successful content creators will jump ship and switch to Reels, at least not yet. However, Reels can provide creators with an additional place to share content and generate ad revenue. There's also the problem of the social media marketing space becoming increasingly crowded, with YouTube also offering a TikTok-like 'Shorts' feature that lets users view short videos.
TikTok, the originator of the short-form clip, is now differentiating itself from the competition by investing in long-form content and live streams. Ultimately, it's content creators that will win out. With more platforms at their disposal than ever before, creators can cross-post content across several services and create multiple income streams.
After Meta's topsy-turvy year, the company is still hungry for social media dominance. Time will tell whether Facebook Reels can compete with TikTok, but content creators can use the platform to target new audiences, share content, and generate ad revenue.
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