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Facebook Reels debuts new creative tools – here’s what marketers need to know

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By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

March 3, 2023 | 8 min read

Meta is giving creators and marketers new capabilities to create Facebook Reels from their Memories, sync a video’s motion with the beat of a song and more.

Facebook Reels

Facebook Reels introduces new tools for creators and brands / Adobe Stock

Meta today announced that it’s bringing new features to Facebook Reels, the social media platform’s short-form video product, and will now allow users to post Reels up to 90 seconds in length.

The changes aim to offer greater flexibility to creators and brands on the platform – and are likely to be welcome updates for many. Here are the details.

What happened

  • Meta explained – in a video, fittingly – that it is rolling out new tools designed to “make it easier to create fun and engaging Reels.”

  • For one, users will now be able to post Reels up to 90 seconds in length – previously, they had only 60 seconds to work with.

  • Creators will now have the option to assemble readymade Reels from their Facebook Memories quickly.

  • Facebook Reels will also allow creators to mimic the structure of videos they’re seeing in their own feeds with a new ‘trending’ templates feature.

  • Plus, users will now have access to a tool called Grooves, which automatically syncs a video’s unique movements with the beat of a chosen song or sound.

All of these updates follow similar changes made to Instagram Reels last June, leading some to speculate that they’ve proven successful. “They’ve already been testing this stuff on Instagram, and since they’re rolling it out on Facebook, the metrics must be positive,” says Shiv Gupta, managing partner at digital marketing education firm U of Digital.

The changes announced by Meta today aim to offer greater flexibility to both individual creators and brands, who can use tools like the trending templates option to more easily tap into in-the-moment trends and engage audiences with content they want to see. Facebook Reels now reaches 2 billion daily active users.

Plus, the changes may “make Facebook Reels more accessible and less hard for creator muggles – non-video savvy types – through templates as well as the Memories integration,” says Ann Handley, a digital marketing influencer and social media consultant. “It’s a way to encourage less-savvy creators or people who don’t see themselves as creators, unlike the TikTok crowd.”

Why it matters

Short-form video is growing increasingly important – to creators and brands as well as in the larger market for entertainment and social media. A report by market research firm Data Intelo predicts that the global market for short-form video platforms will grow from $1.1bn in 2020 to $2.3bn by 2030, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 10.2% from 2021 to 2030.

Most of the updates announced today follow in the footsteps of TikTok, the video-sharing app with over 1 billion users worldwide. TikTok first enticed teens with its short-form videos of DIY creators, full-screen mobile display and auto-play features. Its powerful recommendation algorithm has made it among the most engaging social media platforms ever. Meta introduced Instagram Reels, its TikTok lookalike, in 2020, and followed with Facebook Reels the next year (also enabling cross-posting between Instagram and Facebook).

Since then, many updates to Reels have mirrored TikTok features. The new Grooves offering, for example, mimics TikTok’s Sound Sync tool. As Gupta puts it: “In classic Meta form, they are copycatting TikTok. Meta is not 'getting ahead of the puck' with any of these moves, just trying to skate to it.”

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Others agree that while Meta may be trying to catch up, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Meta is definitely on the right track when it comes to Facebook and Instagram Reels. While outwardly it may seem like they’re playing catch-up or even just continuing to mimic the competition, the reality is that they’re ensuring status quo,” says Mike Allton, a social media influencer and head of strategic partnerships at social media management platform Agorapulse.

“If content creators have more flexibility and features, and fewer limitations, they're more likely to ... continue sharing content to Facebook and Instagram along with TikTok. That means creators will continue to build community on these platforms, continue to create unique content and continue to give users a reason to return and spend more time on Facebook or Instagram. That is definitely a win for advertisers.”

TikTok has extended its max video length multiple times, pushing to three minutes and now to 10, which Gupta and others have speculated is an attempt to steal more of YouTube’s share of the video market.

Still, concern about TikTok’s prospects – especially in the US market, where lawmakers have introduced various proposals to ban or more strictly regulate the app – are top-of-mind for creators and brands alike, many of whom have come to rely on the platform for reach and engagement.

Handley predicts that Meta could be hedging its bets in the case that TikTok becomes more regulated or even banned in the US. “There’s still uncertainty about TikTok’s future – will it be banned or not? Which creates some uncertainty for both creators and marketers. It just might be that Facebook Reels is perfectly positioning itself should a TikTok ban prevail.”

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