Instagram Reels got a dedicated button on the home screen — But why?

Sushmita Sahu
4 min readOct 14, 2020

Reels is new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram and is a copy-cat of TikTok.

Instagram is a video and photo sharing app and was launched in 2010. It was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for $1bn. Instagram’s mission statement says ‘to capture and share the world’s moments’.

To get more insights into the usage of Instagram, let’s look at some interesting stats (source):

  • As of January 2020, there are nearly 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram
  • There are nearly 500 million daily active users (DAU).

Over half of all Instagram accounts browse the Explore section at least once per month.

  • Posts containing videos receive about 38% more engagement than those containing images.

Instagram downloads increased 11.4% in India after Instagram Reels was introduced in July 2020. (Source)

What is the fuss around Instagram reels?

Reels is new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram. Reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), all at once, or using video uploads from your gallery. With Reels, one can share with their followers and can be discovered by the huge, diverse Instagram community on Explore. Basically, reels is similar to what TikTok offers.

Instagram has been strategic in releasing the reels in certain countries. In June 2020, TikTok app was banned by the Indian government. This created an opportunity for other companies to come up with something similar to what TikTok offers and fill the gap in the market. There were more than 119 million active users of TikTok in India before it was banned. Instagram released reels in India in July 2020 and India is the fourth country, after Brazil, Germany, and France, where this new Instagram video format is being tested.

Introduction of a Dedicated Button for Reels

Before: The reels could be explored by going to the explore section of Instagram by clicking on ‘magnifying glass’ symbol on the bottom navigation bar. This required the users to perform multiple steps to get to the reels.

BEFORE — Instagram’s Explore section (when clicked on magnifying glass button)

After: Instagram introduced a separate button for Reels at the lower navigation bar in place of the frequently used Explore button. The reels button directly takes the users to a random reels video and then, one can swipe up to see the next reels video. The Explore button has been moved to the top right section, right next to DM button.

AFTER — Dedicated Reels button on Instagram home screen

There was no change seen the avg. DAU but 0.8 million new app installs were observed post reels launch.

Instagram metrics of India (Source)

Why introduce a separate button for reels?

Here’s why:

Jefferies analysts estimated that Instagram’s new Reels feature could add $2.5 billion in yearly incremental ad revenue for Facebook by 2022.

Five key takeaways from the Jefferies report:

  1. Instagram users who have tried the feature are sticking with it: 80% of Reels users surveyed said they were likely to continue using the feature.
  2. Reels is becoming part of daily usage for many: Of the respondents using Reels so far, 25% said they used it once per day and 24% said they used it more than once per day.
  3. Viewership is big and comparable to TikTok: Reels posts are attracting five to 10 times more views than other video content on Instagram, such as IGTV. Some Reels have had more than 60 million views.
  4. If Reels follows the lead of Instagram Stories, it could become a major ad driver: The Snapchat-copying Instagram Stories feature became the company’s “largest driver of ad impression growth” within three years of launch, with over 3 million advertisers using the feature.
  5. It’ll take time to grow on users and advertisers: 36% of survey respondents who had used Reels said they found the feature “very engaging” and “spend a lot of time scrolling.” But 42% of Reels users said they preferred other apps like TikTok. About 12% said they found the feature boring.

Source: Business Insider

If the feature can drive the revenue of the app or can increase the engagement rate, then why not dedicate a button on the home screen for it! Do you agree?

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