Reels is Meta’s fastest-growing content format, and as it seeks to fend off ever-growing competition from TikTok, the company has today announced a range of new Reels updates, including longer clips, new interactive stickers, audio editing options and more.
Longer clips is probably the biggest update – from today, users will be able to create Reels clips of up to 90 seconds, up from the previous 60-second limit.
Meta’s been testing 90-second Reels with selected users over the last few months, and now, it’s giving everyone a little more time to create their Reels content.
Which, in some ways, goes against the short-form ethos of the offering, a key element of its appeal. But then again, TikTok expanded the length of its videos back in July (3 minutes), then again in February (10 minutes), and given its enduring popularity, it would seem like providing users with more flexibility on this front has had little impact on engagement.
Still, on TikTok, there’s no alternative – you can’t post longer clips, for example, to Facebook Watch, or as a regular video upload, which makes it a little different.
I guess, really, an extra 30 seconds is no big deal in this respect, though it could be significant for creators looking to build a presence via the option.
On another creative front, Meta’s also adding a range of new stickers to Reels clips.
“We’re bringing some of your favorite Instagram Stories stickers to Reels: with poll, quiz and emoji slider stickers, you’ll have new ways to connect with people through your reels.”
New interactive tools will help to improve engagement, with polls, in particular, proving hard to resist for many users.
Meta’s also adding a new audio import option, which will enable creators to upload their own audio directly within the Reels creation process, while Facebook Reels will now support voiceovers for your recordings, so you can narrate your videos.
Meta’s also adding a new ‘Sound Sync’ option, which will enable Reels creators to automatically sync their video clips to the beat of a chosen music track.
That could make it a little easier to make better-looking Reels clips.
Finally, Meta’s also launching Templates, which lets you ‘easily and quickly create your own reel using the same structure as a reel you've watched’.
Meta’s been testing this with selected creators over the past few months.
As you can see in this example, now, when you see a Reel that you want to recreate, you’ll be able to select ‘Use as Template’ to pull in the audio and clip sequence. You’ll then be able to customize the format with your own content.
As we noted in our previous report on the option, Templates leans into remixing, which is a key engagement element in TikTok (and is also available in Reels), and so long as you’re not copying an idea frame-for-frame, with no credit to the original, it could be okay. But it does seem like it’s perfectly aligned with doing just that, which could be a problem – especially given that Instagram recently announced a new algorithm update to better promote original content creators in the app.
Remixes, it seems, won’t fall foul of that shift.
In addition to these creative updates, Meta’s also looking to boost Reels discovery, by basically shoving them into more recommendation feeds across its apps.
“On Facebook, we’re rolling out suggested Reels in Feed globally to help you get discovered by people around the world. We’ve also expanded Reels in Watch globally, so people can find Facebook Reels in Feed, Groups and Watch. On Instagram, creators have the option to recommend their reels on Facebook to expand the reach of their content.”
As is Meta’s way, when it thinks it’s onto a winner, it does it to death (see also: Stories), which serves the dual purpose of both ensuring maximum exposure to such content across its various streams, while also making many users sick to death of seeing them. That, ideally, then also makes them sick of seeing them in other apps too – so while flooding you with a certain format may seem like a path to reducing engagement, maybe, it also helps to ween users off the latest trends, which then sees them stop using alternative apps as well.
Maybe that’s a step too far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Meta has helped to drive people away from competitor apps via over-saturation of rising content formats.
From a technical perspective, Meta’s also looking to provide more Reels creation options, with the capacity to create, edit, publish and schedule Facebook Reels from Creator Studio, as well as the addition of new video clipping tools in Studio, which will make it easier cut Reels highlights from long-form uploads.
That’ll provide another way for brands to get involved in the Reels shift – and with more people engaging with more short-form video content, it’s well worth considering how you can incorporate the format into your content approach.
In addition, Meta’s also rolling out new editing tools to help live-stream creators cut Live clips down to ‘a vertical-friendly, 60-second format’. Which is specifically focused on gaming creators, but could eventually have benefits for all live-stream users.
It’s amazing to consider the influence that TikTok has had over the broader social media industry, and the way in which short-form video has rapidly become the key content format of focus for so many users.
The appeal of short-form video is that it’s quick and non-committal, so if you don’t like what you’re seeing, you can skip onto the next, and continue on through your feed, looking for the best highlights that suit your mood on any given day.
Which, inevitably, is also having a broader impact on user attention spans, and as more people spend more time consuming this type of content, that’s changing their general approach to content, and the expectations around how messages are communicated to them through media inputs.
In other words, more users are getting more used to quick, simple, entertaining clips - which means that your promotions need to follow the same trends if you want to maximize your own brand appeal.
These new Reels updates provide a range of new considerations in this respect.