'Reels': Instagram launches new short-form video platform to 'express and entertain'

Instagram reels
Influencers, get ready to sing and dance with Instagram's new video-sharing platform. Photo credit: Supplied.

Influencers, get ready to sing and dance. Instagram has announced the New Zealand launch of 'Reels', a new format to create short-form videos edited with audio and music.

The launch of the new platform on Thursday comes with a variety of fun and easy ways to edit and create videos in the app, including editing tools, a timer, speed controls, AR effects, a countdown and a new align tool. 

You can create a video using multiple clips, and then add original audio or music from the library provided. 

Instagram says the inspiration comes from their "creators and community", with 45 percent of all videos posted to Instagram's main feed now under 15 seconds.

Instagram Reels
The Reels platform will operate in a similar fashion to social media phenomenon TikTok. Photo credit: Supplied.

But unless you've been living under a rock, it's obvious the new platform has been influenced by social media phenomenon TikTok, the short-form video-sharing app which quickly amassed over 800 million users worldwide. According to official statistics, 41 percent of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24, showing just how much the younger market is into short-form video content and creation. 

Security concerns have recently been cropping up around TikTok, which is perhaps why new safety and privacy features will be "built-in to the Reels experience upon launch". 

"From private accounts and Close Friends which help manage who sees your content, to comment filters and 'Restrict' features to ensure you're protected from inappropriate comments, it's our priority to ensure Instagram is a safe and kind platform for our entire community," the company says. 

There will be a dedicated tab for Reels on users' profiles, with the videos able to be posted to a user's feed, stories, or over DMs. 

"Instagram is where millions of Kiwis come every day to express themselves and be entertained," says Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia and New Zealand.

"Our community is telling us they want to make and watch short-form, edited videos, which is exactly how we've developed the Reels experience. 

"Whether you are a creator with a passion to share or a business with a story to tell, our new Reels format empowers your creativity and helps you reach new audiences on a global stage." 

How to access and use Instagram Reels:

  1. Select Reels at the bottom of the Instagram camera. You'll see the creative editing tools on the left side of your screen. Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery.
  2. Record the first clip by pressing and holding the capture button. You'll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record. Stop recording to end each clip.
  3. Once your reel is ready, choose the share button, where you can change the cover image, add a caption, hashtags, and tag your friends. You can also save a draft of your reel if you want to pause and come back to it.
  4. After you share your reel, you can then find it on a separate Reels tab on your profile, where people can find the reels you've shared. You'll be able to see likes and comments, and how many times your reel has been played.
  5. Whether you have a public or private account, you can share your reel to your Instagram Story, close friends, or in a direct message. If you opt to do so, your reel will behave like a regular Story - it will not be shared to Reels in explore, will not appear on your profile, and will disappear after 24 hours.