Six months later, it isn’t taking off in the way the company had hoped. TikTok has outlasted the Trump administration and continues to be popular, with roughly 100 million users in the US, a significant impact on American pop culture and a loyal mix of influencers who don’t seem to be going anywhere. Unlike with Stories at this point in its history, Instagram has not released any metrics about Reels so far.
“TikTok is light years ahead of Reels,” said Evan Asano, CEO of influencer marketing agency Mediakix, referring to TikTok’s powerful content recommendation system and the fact that the app is far more focused than Instagram’s, which has a growing list of competing video offerings.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, recently admitted Reels had work to do and hinted at a need for Instagram to simplify or consolidate its various video product offerings.
“Everyone will always tell me ‘I’m going to go film TikToks,’ but they never say ‘We’re going to film Reels,'” said Parker Pannell, a 17-year-old with 2.4 million TikTok followers who thinks of posting to Reels as an afterthought. “TikTok creates the trends, they build up new creators, people build their most loyal followings [there]. People are so indulged in this environment of TikTok, they’re not ready to transition to another platform like Reels.”
“I would never count Instagram out in any way. They are usually laser focused on how to stay on top of the competition,” said Karyn Spencer, CMO of influencer agency Whaler and the former head of creators at shuttered short-form video platform Vine. “At the same time, I don’t think any of us experience the same type of algorithm on Instagram that we currently experience on TikTok.”
TikTok’s simplicity gives it a “big advantage,” said Mediakix’s Asano, adding that Instagram now has shopping capabilities, Stories, Reels and other video formats, which he feels end up competing with each other.
“Pretty soon you end up with a monster that nobody can understand,” he said.