Facebook Reels, The Competitor to TikTok?

Whether you’re an ardent follower, a fan keen to keep their addiction on the down-low, or even a hater who isn’t a fan of the silly trends, it’s hard to deny the meteoric rise of TikTok. While it’s been around since 2016, it wasn’t until the 2018 merger with the ever-cringy lip-synch platform Musical.ly that it began to garner global acclaim. As of March 2022, TikTok has a grand total of 3.7 million active users across the UK, and is downloaded over 1 million times every month. Growth figures that are -quite frankly- absolutely ridiculous with no signs of slowing down.

As is frequently the case in the world of social media, when one platform implements a change, the whole gang soon follows. As was the case with the integration of Facebook Stories in line with the growing popularity of Snapchat, the creatively named Facebook Reels has seen some strangely familiar updates since its inception in September 2021.

TikBook or FaceTok?

While change is a staple of life, and even more so of the digital world, Facebook has implemented some very TikTok-y changes to their video counterpart.

  • TikTok recently extended their video length to 3 minutes from their previous 60 seconds, Facebook is playing catch-up and has gone up to 60 from their base 30.
  • Drafts and Video clipping are being added to encourage editors who publish long-form content to make use of the platform.
  • Remix, akin to TikTok duets, is also being added. A tool which will allow for the creation of a reel alongside another, publicly available one. Think reaction videos.

A Genuine Competitor? Or Just a Hop on The Hype Train?

Calling Facebook anything short of a powerhouse would be an insult to its 2.91 billion monthly users. In full honesty, if they doubled down on Facebook Reels, they could likely create a much better platform than anything TikTok would be able to offer due to their substantial resources and greater potential transferable audience. Whether they do decide to double down is another question entirely. Meta currently holds a very comfy seat at the social media table with 77% of internet users using at least a single one of their platforms (Facebook, Instagram, FB Messenger, and WhatsApp), meaning that pretty much every TikTok user was a Meta user first.

To further complicate matters, since December 2020 Facebook has been locked in conflict with the FTC (a US government agency guarding against predatory business practices and encouraging competition within industries) regarding the monopoly that they hold over the social media market. To simplify a court case that has been active for over a year, the FTC is saying Facebook holds a monopoly over the market since they have no legitimate competitors, Facebook’s response was to point out that Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok exist. While these are ‘kind of’ competitors, they hold nowhere near the market sway that Facebook does and the entire situation can easily be likened to a professional athlete claiming a fair victory over the other parents at a sports day. It’s also worth noting that in recent years Facebook has tried to acquire both Snapchat and Twitter.

While its pretty clear that Facebook could probably seize TikTok’s market share – and quite easily at that – there are a plethora of reasons as to why they might not want to. Their façade of competition with TikTok is of great value to them and protects their bottom line from US legislation-imposed market equality, or as they see them, sanctions. In classical evil movie villain style, they may also be cackling in their unconventionally designed offices under the belief that no competitor can touch them. For the moment, they would be right.

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