After launching into beta tests just last month, Facebook today is rolling out Reels to all Facebook users in the U.S. on both iOS and Android. The feature, Facebook's response to TikTok, allows creators to make and share short-form video content using a variety of editing tools, including those for music and audio, AR effects, using timers and countdowns and more. With the public launch, creators will be able to create their Reels directly on Facebook as well as share their exiting Instagram Reels to Facebook in order to help them build a following across both apps.
In addition, Facebook is now sharing more details about how it plans to fuel Reels' creation.
The company is introducing a new bonus program that will pay creators when people view their Reels. The program will be funded as part of Facebook's larger commitment to invest over $1 billion in creators through 2022, which is also paying creators to run certain types of ads, for receiving payments through Stars (virtual tips) and more.
The Reels Play bonus program, which expands on Instagram's Reels Summer bonus, will pay eligible creators based on the performance of their Reels across Facebook and Instagram, and will pay out on Reels that get at least 1,000 views over a 30-day period. (Facebook did not say how large the payments would be, however.)
The new program will be open to U.S. creators only and will be invite-only for the time being. It will eventually expand to more global markets.
Facebook says it's also working to develop other ways for creators to make money from their Reels, and plans to test new ad formats, including Sticker Ads and Banner Ads in Reels. It's also looking into integrating Stars, its virtual tipping system, into Reels, which would allow fans to pay their favorite Reels creators directly.
The company also plans to monetize Reels as a product by testing full-screen and immersive ads that appear in between Reels, similar to ads on TikTok. These ads will allow users to connect with brands and other small businesses, Facebook says. And like the Reels themselves, viewers can comment, like, view, save, share or skip these ads, which are already appearing on Instagram Reels.
Image Credits: Facebook (sharing Instagram Reels to Facebook opt-in flow)
There are several places Facebook users can create Reels, including from a "Create" button in the new Reels section that appears as you scroll the News Feed, while watching Reels, or by tapping on "Reels" at the top of the News Feed. Meanwhile, users can view Reels from the News Feed (where they'll be joined by Reels shared from Instagram), and in select Pages and Groups.
Reels first launched to global audiences just over a year ago, as little more than a TikTok clone. The product today offers a similar feature set to TikTok, which includes access to a large catalog of audio and music, tools to edit videos using things like timers, countdowns and AR effects, and other tools for speed adjustments and stitching clips together. While Reels' lineup of editing tools, particularly its AR effects, isn't nearly as large as TikTok's, the company also makes it simple for creators to directly upload to Reels their videos created in third-party editing apps. And while Reels that display the TikTok watermark will be downranked by the algorithm, the company is not currently penalizing content that's cross-posted to multiple services.
Image Credits: Facebook (Reels in Groups)
Facebook has been very transparent that it sees the rise of TikTok as a threat to its business. While some companies don't address their competition directly, Instagram head Adam Mosseri in June specifically highlighted TikTok as one of the reasons why Instagram was evolving to include more video. He even warned users, "we're no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app."
Meanwhile, TikTok's growth has been substantial. It was the most downloaded app of 2020. In July, it became the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads. And just this week TikTok announced it's now seeing 1 billion monthly active users. By comparison, Facebook's family of apps now sees 3.51 billion monthly active users.
Reels on Facebook is rolling out today to U.S. users on the Facebook mobile app.