Just when you thought everyone was done copying Snapchat, another big tech company enters the clone club: YouTube. But for once I actually think it makes complete sense.
YouTube’s approach is called ‘Reels’, and the company outright admits it’s its own spin on the stories format in an announcement blog post. The feature was introduced along with the expansion of the Community tab, a section of YouTube to help creators interact with audiences. While the tab was originally limited to a few creators, now it’s rolling out to everyone with 10k subscribers or more.
Reels will be part of the Community tab, which already establishes a major difference from other apps’ stories: it’s not available to everyone. On YouTube, stories are simply another way to help creators engage with their already expansive audience.
That makes it more of an interesting proposition, in my book. My Instagram stories are populated with friends, brands, and celebrities. Few of those contain content I actually want to watch. But Reels are fundamentally difference different: these are people whose content you already willingly watch thanks to a subscription.
In fact, many YouTubers already have secondary channels for more casual day-to-day, but you then need to subscribe to a separate channel. With Reels, you can view all that content on one channel.
There are functional differences from stories, too. Though you’ll still be able to shoot video, and add filters, texts, and stickers, Reels will remain for more than 24 hours.”They also live on a separate tab on the creator’s channel, meaning they aren’t as in your face as stories are in other apps and you can completely ignore them if they’re not interesting.
YouTube says it’s experimenting with a beta version of Reels with a limited set of creators before expanding it to more people. The final product may end up looking different, but right now, I think YouTube is on to something.