Amid ongoing speculation about the future of TikTok, Facebook is looking to heap more pressure onto the short-form video app by offering high-priced contracts to prominent TikTok creators in order to get them to share their content to Instagram's Reels option instead.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
"Instagram has made lucrative offers to some of TikTok’s most popular creators to use the new service, Reels, according to people familiar with the matter. [...]The potential payments for some would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of the people said."
Earlier in the month, Facebook confirmed that Reels would be coming to more regions in August, while the option is already available in Brazil, France, Germany and India.
Reels, which Instagram openly admits is based on TikTok, could provide a more stable home for TikTok influencers who may be concerned about a potential ban - as has already occurred in India. Indeed, following the removal of TikTok, and all Chinese-owned apps, in the Indian market, locally-developed alternative video apps like Reposo and Chingari saw massive surges in downloads, while YouTube also welcomed a new wave of TikTok creators across to its platform.
Facebook will be hoping that the ongoing speculation around a potential TikTok ban in other regions will spook top creators enough to take them up on their offer, which in most cases would involve exclusive publishing direct to Reels instead.
According to WSJ, several creators are indeed considering the offer::
"A popular teenage TikTok user with millions of followers said that he would likely join Instagram Reels after the company reached out earlier this month. He declined to discuss the details of the call, saying that the company wanted him to be discreet."
Facebook's additionally hoping to use these newly signed creators in a major campaign to announce the broader release of Reels next month.
Really, it makes sense for top creators to consider Facebook's offer. While TikTok has become a major cultural platform, it doesn't yet have a mature eco-system for ensuring top creators get paid for their work. It does have its Creator Marketplace, where brands can connect with influencers for their promotions, and it's expanding its ad offerings to boost its cash flow. But it's not yet in a position to provide anywhere near the established revenue streams that both Facebook and YouTube can offer to top creators on their platforms.
That's, essentially, what ended up killing the former short-form video leader Vine. While Vine was hugely influential, and kick-started the careers of many major web celebrities, Vine wasn't able to offer monetization tools for creators that could compete with other platforms. Vine's top creators eventually asked for direct payments from Vine in order for them to keep posting, which Vine - and parent company Twitter - refused. Those influencers then shifted to other platforms, taking their audiences with them. Vine's usage fell into decline, and it was eventually all over for the app.
Facebook will be hoping to initiate the same type of landslide with TikTok's top names.
In response, TikTok has already released its $200 million Creator Fund, which will see it pay a range of top creators to keep them around. But then again, that fund is moot if the platform is banned - and with US regulators taking a closer look at the app, and other regions also mulling their options, those top users, who've worked to build massive followings, may, at the least, look to Reels as a sort of insurance measure, just in case.
And if they start making more money on Reels instead...
Really, it's a logical move from Facebook, and it will likely see some TikTok creators shift across. The key question though is how many, and how people find the Reels experience in variance to TikTok. If users comes across and get more content they like on Reels, TikTok will lose - but if it feels a bit like a copycat, like TikTok but not quite, TikTok will still be able to keep a hold on its users.
Then it's a matter of what comes next for the platform. Will TikTok get banned? It's difficult to say, but you can bet that those who have invested significant time and money into their TikTok presence will be considering their options very carefully.