Meta launches new features for Reels on Facebook

Meta Platforms – the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp – announced that it is expanding the maximum length of its short-video formats called Reels within the Facebook app following similar actions taken by some of its competitors.

The announcement was made last Friday on the Meta for Creators Facebook account. Alongside this change, Facebook also introduced a feature that lets users create a Reels video by using some of their old photos and videos in just a few clicks.

Facebook creators will also enjoy a new tool called Grooves that automatically synchronizes the beat of a certain song with the motions in the video. Finally, the platform is adding templates to the Reels feature to facilitate the process of creating one of these short videos.

All of these features are already available on Instagram but Meta Platforms (META) is now bringing them onto the Facebook ecosystem, possibly as a way to attract young audiences to the platform once again.

According to a study from Pew Research, only 32% of the teenagers surveyed by the firm stated that they use Facebook. The percentage was even lower at 23% among 13 and 14-year-old kids.

The survey recognized that Facebook is “losing its dominance in the social media world with this new cohort of teens” while platforms such as TikTok and YouTube are thriving with 60% or higher usage figures among this age group.

tiktok launches new parental control tools and daily screen time limits

In addition, only 2% of the teenagers (13 to 17 years old) surveyed said that they visit Facebook constantly while 67% said that they do not use the platform at all.

“Not only is there a smaller share of teenage Facebook users than there was in 2014-15, teens who do use Facebook are also relatively less frequent users of the platform compared with the other platforms covered in this survey,” the report highlighted.

Meta has been criticized for reacting too slowly to the changes that the social media landscape has been experiencing in the past couple of years and the head of the company, Mark Zuckerberg, even acknowledged at some point that he missed “failed to anticipate” how consumer preferences were shifting from image-sharing to video-sharing.

However, the Menlo Park-based metaverse company seems to be busy this year as it has introduced several new features to the three platforms it owns, starting with Instagram, where it recently launched a new one-to-many messaging tool called “Channels”.

In addition, Meta borrowed a strategy from Elon Musk’s playbook at Twitter as it launched a new subscription package that will allow users to get the long-sought “Verified” blue badge for their accounts in exchange for some $15 per month.

The TikTok Threat Could be Neutralized if the US Congress Bans the App

TikTok’s success has changed the social media space for good and has forced Meta Platforms and Alphabet-owned YouTube to innovate by introducing new formats. In the case of Meta, the Reels format was launched in June last year as a direct response to the growing threat that the ByteDance-owned app represented to its photo-sharing app Instagram.

Even though YouTube launched “Shorts” way before Meta, it only started promoting the new format as a monetizable form of content in May 2021 with the creation of the YouTube Shorts Fund, which was designed to distribute $100 million among a certain group of creators.

TikTok’s competitors within the United States could, however, be somehow relieved from the hassle of having to keep chasing the Chinese app’s moves to remain relevant if a new bill introduced in Congress that seeks to ban the app countrywide ends up getting the support it needs to move up the ladder.

The lawmakers behind this initiative argue that the popular social media app owned by ByteDance is a tool used by China’s Communist Party to push forward some of their political and social agendas among US residents.