As it continues to chase TikTok, Meta announced today a series of updates and new features to its Reels products on both Facebook and Instagram. Most notably, it provides a Sound Sync feature on Facebook Reels and adds support for longer Instagram Reels of up to 90 seconds, rather than 60 seconds, back in the days. The expansion follows TikTok’s move into YouTube territory with videos that can now be 10 minutesinstead of just three as before.
The company is also rolling out several more creative tools, audio tools, templates, and other options to make Reels more compelling, such as TikTok’s influence — and potential to make money — continues to grow.
For starters, Meta is now leveraging existing features designed for Instagram Stories and bringing them to roles. These include the Poll, Quiz, and Emoji slider stickers often found on Instagram Stories. These will also be available as Reels features.
While it might make sense to repurpose some of its most popular creative tools for Reels, in doing so, Meta risks blurring the line between its various products to the point where Reels don’t quite stand out from Stories — instead, it can end up looking more like an extension.
Another new Instagram Reels feature is the ability to import your own audio — an option that allows users to add commentary or background sound to any video of at least five seconds stored on their camera roll.
In addition, Instagram is introducing Templates, a new tool that allows users to create new roles with the same structure as the one they just viewed. This one was spotted during testing back in April and somewhat similar to TikTok’s own template option, which is an easier way to get started making videos. However, Reels templates allow users to pull in both the audio and clip sequence. This helps users to recreate more complex formats by simply adding their own content and trimming their clips.
Image Credits: meta
Apart from that, Facebook Reels also gets a number of new features.
An important addition to this is the launch of Sound Sync, a tool that automatically synchronizes users’ video clips with a favorite song. Syncing video to sound is a defining feature of TikTok’s short video platform, and a technology the company has expanded over the years to include more music-related creative effects, like that including visualisations, animations and interactivity.
Facebook Reels users can also add voiceovers to their videos, which is already common on TikTok.
A few other features are intended to appeal to more professional creators, such as desktop-based video clipping tools that make it easier for creators who publish long, recorded or live videos to test other formats, such as Reels. For example, they can convert their content into Facebook roles with Creator Studio. Meanwhile, game video creators are getting tools that allow them to generate short, vertical reels directly from their live content, with dual views for both gameplay and the video camera.
Creators can now also create, edit and schedule their Facebook roles from the desktop.
Image Credits: meta
Facebook will also push suggested roles in its feed globally, as well as in Watch and Groups, in an effort to ramp up discovery and help creators gain wider reach. It also reminded creators that roles are prioritized and ranked based on whether they contain original content.
While these changes could help expand the variety of reels produced by creators, what Meta is arguably lacking when it comes to reels is quality.
Feeds are often dominated by dull or dated trends, such as shots of people trying out AR or beauty filters, or videos dubbed audio clips with random or uninteresting videos uploaded from users’ phones. Pets and uninspired travel video clips are also common on Reels, as is engagement bait, where the sole purpose of the video is to lead users to the comments. Some Reels creators just pose for the camera but have nothing to say — a tactic that may have helped them build a following when Instagram was a photo-centric app that rewarded the attractive, but was less of a draw in the TikTok community. era, where users are Demand authenticity, not perfection†
Despite these problems, creators can – for now at least – rely on the massive reach of Facebook and Instagram billions to get attention and engagement. But the general feel of browsing Reels remains very different from TikTok. On the latter, commentary, insights, vlogs and accidental but highly personalized discoveries continue to predominate.
To address this bigger problem, Meta has paid creators directly to Reels. to make through the makers fund and recently announced it will pay out bonuses to creators also for original content. But some are beginning to suspect that the rise of TikTok coupled with Meta’s hampered ability to take over competitors under tighter regulatory oversight will end Meta’s time at the top as the leading social platform.
Meta says many of the new features are available today, including audio tools for Facebook roles like Voiceover, Sound Sync, text-to-speech; plus Quiz, Poll and Emoji slider stickers, templates and importing your own audio for Instagram roles. The rest will be rolled out to the global markets where Reels is available in the coming weeks.
We also asked if the extension to Instagram reels of 90 seconds would be a problem for creators who cross-post to Facebook reels, where the limit is still 60 seconds, but Meta said those longer, cross-posted reels will become supported.
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