And while we don’t have any data on Reels usage as yet (though Instagram has said that Reels is taking off in India), the changes have been made in response to initial user feedback, and look to move Reels even more in-line with TikTok’s process.
First off, Instagram will now allow users to create Reels of up to 30 seconds.
Reels have thus far been restricted to 15-seconds, in line with TikTok’s main focus, but TikTok clips can actually be up to a minute in length, giving users more room to flesh out their creations. Instagram isn’t giving Reels users the full minute (though you can, of course, post longer videos to the main Instagram feed), but the expansion to 30 seconds will provide more leeway.
And as noted by TechCrunch, the middle ground option could provide a way to TikTok users to re-purpose their longer TikTok clips to Reels, while still requiring them to re-edit in many cases, thereby making unique Reels content.
In addition to this, Reels creators will now also be able to extend the timer by 10 seconds as they record their clips.
While it’s also looking to improve on its native editing tools, with improved trimming and deletion options.
In some ways, it feels like a bad sign that Instagram is already making changes to the Reels design so close to the initial launch, but it’s also good that Instagram is trying to learn quickly and align with user behaviors in the app.
Whether Reels can become a bigger thing is hard to say. Initially, Instagram has been pushing Reels as an alternative to TikTok in both India (where TikTok is banned) and the US (where TikTok could be banned), but with negotiations increasingly looking more like TikTok will remain in America, that could see Reels lose any momentum it had gained due to uncertainty over TikTok’s future.
Most of the feedback seems to be that Reels is TikTok, but not as good. That could be good enough in India, but if TikTok remains unchanged, it likely won’t be enough anywhere else.
But then again, with reports that TikTok’s personalization algorithms won’t be included in the Oracle/Walmart deal, TikTok could still lose its way, and if it does, having Reels as a pretty close alternative will remain a consideration for many.
As such, Reels could still become a bigger consideration over time, even if TikTok is allowed to remain in the US.
Twitter Expands Content Recommendations, Showing Users More Tweets from Profiles They Don’t Follow
Suddenly seeing a heap more random accounts appear in your Twitter feed?
This is why – today, Twitter ramped up its tweet recommendations for a heap more users.
We want to ensure everyone on Twitter sees the best content on the platform, so we’re expanding recommendations to all users, including those who may not have seen them in the past.
You can learn more about them, and how to best control your experience: https://t.co/ekYWf57JSc
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 30, 2022
So you’re going to see more tweets in your feed based on things like:
- Interests based on tweet activity
- Topics you follow
- Tweets you’ve engaged with
- Tweets people in your network like
- People followed by people you follow
There’s a heap of expanded exposure potential here, and Twitter, in an effort to juice engagement, is looking to keep people in the app for as long as possible, which, ideally, these recommendations will facilitate.
It’s similar to how Facebook and Instagram are now showing you more AI-based content recommendations, which stems from TikTok, and its focus on highlighting the most relevant content to each user, which is not directly tied to your own social graph.
There was a time when your social graph was the defining factor, which gave Facebook a huge advantage, but now, there’s been a bigger shift towards entertainment over social interaction, which expands the potential to show each user more interesting content, from a much broader range of sources.
Conceptually it makes sense, but it’s largely reliant on the platform algorithms being actually good at showing you the best content, based on your interests. TikTok is very good at this, hooking into your expressed likes and dislikes based on your viewing history.
Twitter, however, not so much.
In my experience, Twitter’s recommended topics are always pretty far off, and even within those topics, the tweets it highlights tend to also be off-topic, uninteresting, and even just weird a lot of the time.
Right now, Twitter seems convinced that I’m interested in ‘AirBnB’, ‘beauty Influencers’ and ‘Blink 182’. I’m not interested in any of these things, which I’ve tried to tell Twitter’s algorithms by selecting the ‘Not interested in this topic’ option – yet every time I re-open the app, they’re on my Explore page once again.
It could be worse – last month it was showing me ‘Peanuts’ comics, so I had Charlie Brown’s massive head staring back at me every time I tapped over to the Explore tab.
Again, I’ve directly told Twitter that I’m not interested, but it keeps showing them to me, while today, after this new announcement, this is what my feed currently looks like:
And they just keep coming – every time I scroll back to the top, another 20 tweets are in my feed, with 80% being recommendations.
Look, this is probably a short-term push, and maybe it helps people discover new users to follow, and helps Twitter boost engagement. But again, if you’re seeing a heap more recommendations, this is why.
Hopefully, the feedback will help Twitter refine its topic and content streams.