Meta’s taking its battle against TikTok to the next stage with the full launch of Reels on Facebook, using the platform’s massive scale to capitalize on the popularity of short-form video content.
Already available to some users, Meta is now making Facebook Reels available in 150 more regions, with a new Reels display at the top of user feeds.
That will get a lot more people watching a lot more clips via Meta’s TikTok clone functionality, while Facebook’s also adding new creative tools and features to further encourage take-up.
Facebook Reels will include remix functionality to encourage trend engagement, while creators will also be able to post Facebook Reels up to 60 seconds in length, in line with Instagram’s Reels extension launched last July. Users will also be able to share publicly posted Reels to their Stories, adding even more engagement potential.
In addition to this, Facebook’s also adding Reels drafts, and a new video clipping option “that will make it easier for creators who publish live or long-form, recorded videos to test different formats”.
That last one is important, because like YouTube, Facebook’s looking to use its short-form option as a complementary channel, while also giving creators the opportunity to build community, and maximize their monetization potential through longer content as well.
That could end up being a major problem for TikTok. As it stands, monetizing short-form content remains problematic, because you can’t attribute pre or mid-roll ads to specific clips, like you can with longer posts. That immediately limits your revenue potential, and while TikTok is looking to counter this with its Creator Fund and by facilitating brand partnerships, none of these options provide the same money-making possibilities as longer form uploads on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.
TikTok creators have already started calling out the platform over its flawed monetization tools, with revenue potential actually decreasing as the platform gains more users. At some stage, TikTok will need to address this, but with other platforms already paying out billions to creators via their established funding frameworks, there’s likely no way that TikTok will realistically ever be able to compete at the same scale.
Which means that TikTok, for many big stars, will only ever be a supplementary channel, with no direct opportunity for broader monetization. That could see fewer of them go putting real effort into their TikTok clips - and if they can also use Reels and Shorts to directly promote their main money-making content, why would they bother continuing to post on TikTok at all?
Also, what if Facebook and YouTube start doing out exclusive contracts to their most popular creators?
TikTok is huge now, and is on track to get significantly bigger this year, but much of its success still relies on top stars continuing to share clips. If that flow of content stops, your ‘For You’ feed could get real boring, real quick, which could, eventually, become an existential issue for the app.
We’re not close to that stage yet, but that’s what both YouTube and Facebook are pushing for, and with Facebook Reels now providing the capacity to reach another 2.9 billion potential subscribers, that’s a big lure, which may still see Meta’s short-form options become a bigger consideration.
Which is why this other wrinkle is also interesting - in addition to the expanded launch of Facebook Reels, Facebook’s also launched a new promo campaign for its growing stable of long-form video creators.
As explained by Meta:
“The ‘Storytelling Goes Here’ campaign showcases video content that reflects the diversity of high quality long-form videos we have on Facebook from Creators, Publishers and Originals, and shares what a person may watch and where they might see an in-stream video brand advertisement.”
As noted, YouTube is also moving along the same lines, with the recent addition of a Shorts display within each Channel’s uploads listing.
The core message being that short-form content is great, but long-form is where the money is. And TikTok can’t offer both.
Which is why this is such a critical expansion, and with Facebook usage stalling (in some regions) and video now accounting for almost half of all the time people spend in the app, it also makes sense to lean into Reels and make the most of its TikTok-fueled popularity.
Facebook’s also testing more direct monetization tools for Reels, including the expansion of its Reels Play bonus program for top-performing clips, and Stars tipping within the Reels experience.
It’s also testing a new sticker ad option for Reels that will enable creators to attach sponsored content to their clips.
“We’re expanding tests of Facebook Reels Overlay Ads to all creators in the US, Canada and Mexico, and to more countries in the coming weeks. We’re starting with two formats: banner ads that appear as a semi-transparent overlay at the bottom of a Facebook Reel, and sticker ads: a static image ad that can be placed by a creator anywhere within their reel. These non-interruptive ads enable creators to earn a portion of the ad revenue.”
That will provide even more monetization potential, to a potentially massive audience – and I can envisage some creators re-uploading popular clips with these stickers attached to make a quick buck.
But long-form content is where the real push is coming, and where the real pressure is being heaped onto TikTok to help its top stars earn big in the app.
And I’m not sure TikTok can do it - I’m not sure that TikTok, or indeed any short-form video-focused app, will ever be able to provide comparable earnings potential to longer-form hosts, at least in the current state.
Which is why TikTok is also exploring long-form clips, as well as live-streams to build out its own platform.
And that’ll work to a degree - and again, it’s not like TikTok is on the brink of failure anytime soon. But money, as they say, talks, and it’ll be speaking very loudly into the ears of all creators once they reach a certain level of fame, which could turn TikTok into a wasteland of one-off clips and desperadoes trying to latch onto viral fame.
Less sustainable, less interesting, and ultimately, less popular over time.