In case you didn’t know it, Instagram really, really wants people to give Reels a chance, as part of its broader effort to stop users switching over to TikTok instead.
The latest example of this in action is a new process which enables you to easily convert an Instagram Stories highlight into a Reels clip.
As you can see in this example, posted by app researcher @WFBrother, some users are now seeing an option within their Instagram highlights when enables them to tap on a Reels icon to convert the highlight over to a short Reels clip.
The process then enables you to synch the highlight to music, providing a whole new way to create Reels content.
If, of course, you want to. There would be some value to this, as another means to recycle your best posts, and boost your overall Instagram engagement. But the real impetus seems to be to get more people posting more Reels, which would then give Instagram more clips for the Reels pipeline, to help boost user engagement, while also ushering in more Reels creators. And if you generate a lot of engagement, you’ll no doubt post more Reels, and see more engagement – till eventually the very concept of TikTok will be a distant, fuzzy memory.
That seems to be the hope. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has re-stated many times that video content will be the key focus for IG moving forward, with Reels, in particular, being the central element.
As per Mosseri back in December:
“We’re going to double-down on our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels”
Which makes sense, with Reels already rising to become the largest contributor to engagement growth in the app. But is it good enough to keep users away from TikTok? Is it even as good as TikTok at what it does? Does it have to be?
I guess, in most respects, neither Instagram Reels nor YouTube Shorts (or Snapchat Spotlight clips for that matter) need to be as good as TikTok, as they only need to stem the flow of users away from their respective apps. If each platform can offer a close facsimile of TikTok’s main functionality, that’ll probably keep a good portion of their users at home, while for creators, it also provides a supplementary connection option in each app, which they can then use to expand their overall presence.
And if these apps provide more pathways to monetization than TikTok, which YouTube and Instagram definitely do, then that could be all they need – so in this sense, it’s less about beating TikTok at its own game than nullifying it through replication.
And with both TikTok alternatives seeing strong take-up in India, the second largest user market in the world, there’s clear value there.
In any event, Instagram really wants you to try Reels out, and for marketers, this could be another way to eek more value out of your content efforts.
In other Reels news, Instagram is also apparently experimenting with longer Reels clips.
That could further expand your Reels options, while also contributing to the ongoing integration of the app’s once various video options.
‘Crime not to help’: South Korean ex-SEAL has no Ukraine regrets
South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber Ken Rhee told AFP he has no regrets about his decision to fight in Ukraine – Copyright AFP Jung Yeon-je
Cat Barton and Kang Jin-kyu
A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine says it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help.
Ken Rhee, an ex-special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul the moment President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March.
To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from travelling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations patrol there, was met at the airport by 15 police officers on his return.
But the celebrity ex-soldier, who has a YouTube channel with 700,000 followers and documented much of his Ukraine experience on his popular Instagram account, says he has no regrets.
“You’re walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying ‘no swimming’ — but you see someone drowning. It’s a crime not to help. That’s how I see it,” he told AFP.
Rhee was born in South Korea but raised in the United States. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and planned to join the US Navy SEALS, but his father — a “patriot”, he says — convinced his son to return to South Korea to enlist.
He served for seven years, undergoing both US and Korean SEAL training and doing multiple stints in war zones in Somalia and Iraq before leaving to set up a defence consultancy.
“I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help,” he said, adding that he viewed breaking South Korea’s passport law to leave as equivalent to a “traffic violation”.
– Backlash in Korea –
But the reaction in South Korea — where Rhee shot to fame as a trainer in the popular YouTube series “Fake Men” — was swift and unforgiving.
“It was instant. People in Korea, they just criticised me about breaking the law,” said Rhee.
His critics claim the 38-year-old’s decision was criminally irresponsible, and point to his posting of war footage on his YouTube and Instagram accounts as evidence of showboating.
Rhee says he tries not to let the furore get to him. “I think it’s pretty obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are,” he said of Russia and Ukraine.
On his first day on the frontline in Irpin — which he describes as “the Wild West” and “chaos” — he says he witnessed Russian war crimes.
“I saw a civilian get shot. He was driving… and they shot him through the windshield and he died in front of us,” he said.
“It was like: there’s my proof. There’s definitely war crimes going on. It reminded me and my teammates what we were doing and why we were there,” he said.
Because of his military training, Rhee was told to set up his own team, so he recruited other volunteers with combat experience and set up a multi-national special operations group.
“I was eating Canadian MREs. My gun was from the Czech Republic. I have a Javelin missile from the United States. I have a rocket that’s from Germany… but nothing is Korean,” he said.
He tried to take his Korean-made night vision goggles but was not given government export permission. Seoul has provided non-lethal aid to Kyiv, but Rhee said they could do more.
“Korea has state-of-the-art equipment… they’re very good at making weapons,” he said.
– ‘See you in Taiwan’ –
Russia said this week that 13 South Koreans had travelled to Ukraine — including four who were killed. Seoul said it was trying to verify the claims.
Although Rhee did not know the fate of all his teammates, he said “a lot of my friends have died”.
“I don’t want my friends’ sacrifices to be forgotten,” he said, adding that he plans to write a book — and maybe a screenplay — about his team’s experiences.
But first, he needs to deal with the official repercussions of his trip. He is quietly optimistic South Korea’s new conservative administration won’t put him in jail.
Rhee is not allowed to leave the country until his case is resolved, and is receiving treatment for his injuries. But he hopes one day to fight alongside his teammates again, for a cause they believe in.
The joke as people left the frontline was: “See you in Taiwan,” he said, referring darkly to the risk that Beijing will follow Moscow’s lead and invade a neighbouring democracy.
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