First there was Vine, then Tiktok… and now Instagram Reels? In an attempt to stay relevant with music-loving video makers, Instagram started to test a new Stories format by that name in Brazil Tuesday.
Reels, in essence, are a collection of creation tools that include the ability to add music to a video, as well as a couple of clever editing tricks.
The new editing tools include a so-called ghost mode that makes it easier to line up action between cuts by overlaying the last frame of the previous video over the camera view, as well as a countdown clock that helps to improve the timing of recorded clips.
Instagram director of product Robby Stein told Variety this week that the service chose Brazil as a strategic test market for the new feature. “It’s a country where Stories and music is already quite popular,” he said. Stein said that the feature would be available on Android and iOS in the country, but declined to comment on plans to launch it in additional markets.
Instagram added music stickers to its app in the U.S. a little over a year ago. The service has struck deals with all major labels as well as big indie aggregators and other rights holders, and has since expanded music to a number of countries around the world, including Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Mexico, and of course Brazil.
Instagram is betting that the combination of music with videos and editing tools will keep its users engaged, and stop them from defecting to other music-centric apps. Said Stein: “Video and creation tools have really unlocked a surge of usage.”
And while videos made with Reels can be shared in personal stories, or direct messages, Instagram is clearly hoping that some of these clips will go viral. To that end, the service will also surface select clips in its Explore tab. “Over 50% of accounts use Explore every month,” said Stein.
Instagram frequently tests features with geographic subsets of its audience, and often adds additional markets to a test before rolling a feature out to its general audience. For instance, the service began hiding like counts in some countries this spring, and started to test this feature in the U.S. this week.