Instagram Reels In India: A Possible Death For The Indian Alternatives Of TikTok?

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After the Indian Government banned the popular short-form video app TikTok along with 58 other Chinese-origin apps, many ‘homegrown’ or Indian-made Tiktok alternatives quickly emerged to fill the gap. Even though the growth spurt of these Indian apps such as Roposo, Chingari and MitronTV post the ban have been quite impressive, it is highly likely they are about to be faced with rough waters ahead.

It has recently surfaced that Facebook’s Instagram Reels, also a TikTok alternative, which was previously scheduled to be launching in Brazil, Germany and France, is now being quietly tested out in India.

Eerily similar to TikTok, the Instagram ‘Reels’ feature will let its users record 15-second duration videos with music and audio clips and then enable them to post it on their Instagram ‘stories’ section. To make the process smooth for users, Facebook and Instagram recently partnered up with Saregama, the popular Indian music label, to give Instagram’s users access to their library of songs.

A Facebook spokesperson, in a statement regarding the same, has said that the company plans to roll out an updated version of the Instagram Reels feature in many more countries. They are excited to let the global community of Facebook try it out as it’s a fun and creative way for people to express themselves as well as be entertained.

As of now, sources confirmed that certain Instagram users in India have started receiving the update which includes the ‘Reels’ feature but no official launch dates for India have been announced yet.

Instagram Reels In India: A Potential Death Note

After the ban which forced Indian ‘Tiktokers’ to part ways with TikTok, users were in desperate need for an alternative platform. This is where Indian apps such as Roposo, Chingari and MitronTV swooped into the picture and were able to build a massive user base in the matter of a few hours only. 

Roposo, for instance, claimed that it was able to bag 22 million users in only 48 hours post the ban. In a similar manner, the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of the Chingari App, Sumit Ghosh, has reported that their app has garnered more than 16 million users in just 25 days. Also, the CEO of MitronTV Shivank Agarwal happened to mention that they have observed an 11x jump in daily traffic after the ban as well.

Now, while these Indian alternatives are trying to do their best to milk this particular opportunity of a lifetime, it is highly likely that their growth, excitement and spiked engagement may short-lived when Facebook’s Instagram rolls out Reels in a full-fledged fashion in India.

The Reels feature banks upon the humongous user base of 88 million monthly active Indian users (as of 2018) of Instagram. This basically means that the feature will be able to leverage the existing captive user base of Instagram to get a humongous amount of exposure in the quickest way possible, with almost zero customer acquisition cost.

Reports have already made it clear that Instagram is a preferred choice of TikTok Stars and TikTok Influencers over any other homegrown app. It should also be noted that many Tiktok content creators, post the ban, have observed a significant rise in their Instagram followers. Thus, it is easily understandable why Indian content creators might choose to stick to Instagram to continue building their followers instead of choosing to shift to an entirely new app and start building their follower base from scratch. The presence of TikTok stars and influencers on Instagram will automatically create a trigger for other TikTok content creators who may also join Instagram by jumping off the other ship sooner or later.

Experts believe that the sudden rise of such homegrown apps in a situation like this is quite obvious, but it comes with an immediate need for building a great degree of brand loyalty – something that needs a lot of marketing dollars and time. All homegrown TikTok alternative apps must employe strategies to make users glued with the platforms even after the availability of TikTok or Instagram Reel. This includes the uninterrupted flow of sponsorships, promoted content, and brand endorsement. While Instagram could easily pull in all by leveraging its existing network of sponsors and advertisers, homegrown apps need to start afresh. Just to put things in context, in 2019, Instagram generated $20 billion in revenue from advertisements. A 122% YoY increase in ad revenue itself speaks about the advertisers’ confidence in the platform and its offerings.

Undoubtedly, this is going to be an uphill battle considering the backing of Instagram and TikTok that any of homegrown app is of no match.

Even though most of these Indian Tiktok alternatives are trying to scale as fast as they can with the help of funding, it is well known that Facebook – the social media behemoth has definitely got a war chest bigger than all of them combined. Thus, going head-to-head with Facebook can prove to be nothing short of a potential death note for the Indian TikTok alternatives in the near future. But, if any of homegrown TikTok app manages to turn the tides, it would definitely be a great case study to study.


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