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Facebook's Instagram Launches TikTok Competitor Reels

By Eric Volkman – Aug 5, 2020 at 6:01PM

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This is not the social media giant's first attempt at capturing share in the short-form social video sphere.

The competition for short-form social media video is heating up. On Wednesday, Facebook (META -2.36%) officially launched its Reels video service in the U.S. and over 50 foreign countries. Reels exists within Facebook's Instagram app, and with its features and functionality it is a direct competitor to the immensely popular TikTok, owned by China's ByteDance.

The two services are similar. Users can create 15-second video clips, and edit them using various provided tools. As with any social media offering, the resulting videos can be shared with friends, or even publicly.

A woman using a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

Backed by the powerful and very well-capitalized Facebook, Reels is certainly positioned to be a top choice for short-form video creators and social media "influencers." Whether Facebook can take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen, however -- its last attempt at short-form "social video", the stand-alone app Lasso, was abandoned last month.

It is apparently more determined to succeed with Reels. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal last month, Facebook had made significant financial offers to popular TikTok users to migrate to Reels. It is unknown how much Facebook was allegedly offering potential defectors, and whether any had accepted.

TikTok does not seem fazed by the entry of the social media giant into a segment it currently dominates. "[W]e welcome competition," TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer wrote in an official company blog post. "We think fair competition makes all of us better. To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on."

Investors might be heeding his words, rather than buying into Facebook's hype. Shares of Facebook slid by 0.3% on Wednesday, in contrast to the gains of the broader stock market and numerous big tech companies.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Eric Volkman owns shares of Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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