Reels Coming to Facebook in the US The company announced this morning that it will be testing a new feature, Facebook Reels, that will allow Facebook users to create and share short video content directly in the news feed or in Facebook groups. The addition is an extension of tests launched earlier this year in India, Mexico and Canada that focused on bringing short videos to Facebook users, including by sharing existing Instagram roles on Facebook, as was reported.
In addition, Facebook today says it will also test a new feature that will give Instagram creators in the US the ability to feature their Instagram roles as featured content on Facebook. When the creators sign up, their videos will appear in the “Reels” section of users’ news feed, alongside other roles created on Facebook.
There will be many places for users to create roles from Facebook when the new feature launches.
Initially, you can tap the “Create” button in the “Reels” section that appears when browsing the News Feed while looking at reels, or tap “Reels” at the top of your News Feed. From here, users gain access to a standard set of creation tools, including those for video recording, music selection, film roll import, timed text, and more — just like you would access on Instagram.
For audio, you can pick a song from Facebook’s music library, record your own original audio, or even use someone else’s audio, if their roles are set to “public.” There’s also a variety of effects and editing tools to choose from, including a timer for hands-free reel recording, tools to speed up or slow down a portion of the video or your original audio, and some augmented reality effects created. by Facebook or third-party developers.
Facebook told us that for now “most” features of Instagram Reels will also be available on Facebook Reels. But other features — like Remix (it’s a take on TikTok’s side-by-side videos called Duets) — will be added over time as the test scales to more people. The UI for Reels may also evolve over time to look slightly different from Reels on Instagram, depending on user feedback.
After a reel is created, you can choose who to share it with, such as “Friends”, a specific audience such as “Friends except…” or the general audience. The latter is the default setting.
The feature will be made available within Facebook groups, where roles can be created and then shared with members of the community with similar interests.
Users can also choose to tap “My Roles” to view past creations. And you can browse those created by others in the News Feed and in certain groups and pages – where you can like, comment on, or share them, just like any other type of post. Roles will now also appear in search results, Facebook told us.
Like much of what appears on Facebook, Reels is recommended to users based on what people are interested in, what they are up to, and what is generally popular. This applies to both the shared Instagram roles and the Facebook roles.
Image Credits: Facebook (roles in groups)
The company explained that the decision to replicate the Reels product within Facebook is the result of growing consumer interest in video, especially short video. Today, video accounts for nearly half of all time spent on Facebook. on Facebook’s latest revenue call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that Reels was “already the biggest contributor to Instagram engagement growth,” given the popularity of short video.
“We’re very focused on making it easy for everyone to create videos and then watch those videos across all our different services, starting with Facebook and Instagram,” he had told investors.
But Facebook also understands that people have different communities and audiences on Instagram and Facebook, so offering a cross-posting option may not have been enough.
For existing Reels creators who still want to tap into Facebook’s general audience, a new option will allow them to ensure their Reels are shared on Facebook. This can be useful for those who have more general interest Reels content.
These shared roles also display the creator’s Instagram username, which could help them build a following. The creators’ roles can also be remixed, with the creator’s permission, and their original audio can be reused in other people’s roles, just like on TikTok.
This feature will also be introduced as a “test,” Facebook said.
While Instagram is already starting to monetize through ads, Facebook told us that Reels on Facebook doesn’t currently have ads. But “we plan to roll out ads in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson added.
Image Credits: Facebook (Share Instagram roles with Facebook opt-in flow)
Reels, Facebook’s Answer to the Growing Threat of TikTok, First launched a year ago to a worldwide audience. This launch alone wasn’t enough to put Instagram in the top spot as the world’s most downloaded mobile app. in 2020, that victory went to TikTok, after years of Facebook apps dominating the top lists. And TikTok continues to top the App Store charts today, both in terms of app installs and consumer spending, according to multiple third-party reports.
For Facebook, TikTok poses an existential threat to its business. If users’ time and attention is diverted elsewhere, Facebook’s advertisers can follow, impacting Facebook’s bottom line. So instead of competing with TikTok in just one app, Facebook now uses two. And it takes advantage of the interoperability of its apps to ensure that the best content can flow to both places with ease.
The company also invests directly in the maker community in hopes of tipping the scales back in the right direction.
In July, the company announced a plan to invest more than $1 billion in creators on both Facebook and Instagram through 2022. This fund will reward more than just the creators of Reels, to be clear, as it will also pay out bonuses for videos with in-stream ads enabled or for enabling IGTV ads among others. It will also reward the best creators who have invited fans to send them tips in the form of a virtual currency, “stars”. But Instagram Reels, and now Facebook Reels, will be included in that initiative.
Today, Facebook said it will announce additional bonus programs and seed funding in the coming months that will pay out bonuses for Reels on Facebook. These will be funded from that $1 billion commitment. The company declined to share details on this front, but this news alone indicates that Facebook Reels is much more than just “a test” in Facebook’s eyes.
The new features of Facebook Reels will start rolling out in the US starting today, August 19. It will be available first to a “small percentage” of US users on iOS and Android.
The feature will also remain active in India, Mexico and Canada.