- YouTube, the Google-owned video service with 1.5 billion monthly visitors, is testings "Reels" for content creators who have more than 10,000 subscribers on the platform, per a company blog post. The feature resembles the short-form video format pioneered by Snapchat Stories, which has since been adopted by Instagram, Skype, Facebook and Facebook's Messenger app, according to TechCrunch.
- Reels lets YouTube creators post videos up to 30 seconds long by tapping on the feature in the mobile application's Community tab. Unlike Snapchat Stories, Reels posts don't automatically expire after 24 hours. Reels also can include links to longer YouTube videos, and will let creators apply filters and add music tracks, text and stickers to their videos, Variety reported.
- Roy Livne, senior product manager at YouTube, said in the blog post that the company plans to expand the feature after experimenting with the new format among a limited group of creators.
Snapchat Stories, which lets all users string together sequences of images and videos in a single post, is a popular feature that's shown to keep users more engaged in mobile apps. YouTube's take on the feature with Reels is a way to let creators — and potentially publishers down the road — produce similar short-form videos within its own service instead of people jumping ship for other apps that already offer it.
Reels appears to act more as an add-on feature to a creator's main channel, similar to the social-media-style features in the Community tab that YouTube launched last year for select creators. Community features, which are now available to channels with more than 10,000 subscribers, let creators share pictures, text, GIFs, polls and other content with their audiences. The idea here is to upgrade YouTube's social capabilities to keep both creators and their users on the video platform for fear of them turning to alternative sites that continue to update their offerings.
Beyond engaging creators' current fans with the new feature, Reels users can leverage the new tool to boost their discoverability and increase reach through the bite-sized video content on mobile. While many social media apps have replicated Snapchat's features, it doesn't appear that YouTube is taking direct aim at Snapchat with Reels, as YouTube generally attracts creators who develop longer-form content and use the platform as a hub for their collection of videos. Reels appears to supplement that longer-form content and provide creators on YouTube with more features and tools to engage their fans on a single site.
YouTube hasn't yet indicated which creators will receive the Reels format first, and instead focused on how a few testers have been using Community. For example, Creator Grav3yardgirl used Community to ask fans to vote on what product she should unbox next. Lele Pons posted GIFs that act as trailers for her upcoming videos, while Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant posts photos on NBA gameday, per YouTube's blog.