As it seeks to offset the rise of TikTok while also matching with rising usage habits, Instagram is particularly anxious to encourage people to utilize Reels as much as possible.
The most recent development on this front is a new ‘Montage' option, which allows users to transform their Instagram Stories frames into short Reels video snippets and is presently being evaluated internally. The new technique would allow you to stitch together your Stories frames into a Reels clip, as shown in this sample given by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi.
As illustrated above, the first step displays all of your Stories frames in order. After that, you'd tell Instagram to create a video for you by integrating aspects from each frame. In the final stage, Instagram will suggest a soundtrack to go with your new Reels clip, which will sync seamlessly to the transitions it has created.
It appears to be a fairly reasonable, basic application, but its true utility lies in how it creates the clips and converts pieces from your Stories into Reels. Though it's a little unusual to see Instagram attempting to blend two functions on the one hand, while also attempting to discourage users from re-sharing normal feed posts to Stories on the other, the site is currently working on ways to prevent users from doing so.
The most recent addition to this list is the ‘Re-Share' sticker, which allows users to share feed content to Stories in a more creative manner.
Instagram has tried everything from completely prohibiting feed post-re-sharing to Stories to choices, with the platform's executives constantly stating that while users may want to re-share their feed posts to Stories, their audiences do not. Instagram, on the other hand, is openly and actively seeking ways to encourage users to re-share Stories to Reels. If implemented, this appears to be exactly as aggravating to users, as you'd be getting double-ups of content from the profiles you follow. Maybe it's not the same if the content is remixed into the Reels format – or maybe Instagram is so eager to promote Reels usage in whatever way it can that it'll take the risk and go for it.
It's difficult to tell what the underlying motivation is in this case. Instagram claims that Reels usage is rapidly increasing, but it is still lagging behind TikTok in terms of downloads. As TikTok continues to dominate the download statistics, this poses a potentially existential threat to Instagram, especially as younger users increasingly align themselves with TikTok.
That's precisely what happened to MySpace, with Facebook entering the scene and quickly gaining popularity among younger audiences, which eventually led to widespread adoption and the demise of MySpace. Instagram is still a long way from that level, but such trends are essential in this context, so it makes sense for Instagram to be exploring more solutions as it tries to prevent user migration.
And, regardless of how you look at it, it is assisting. Many Instagram users can now get their TikTok fix in-app, which has likely deterred many of them from migrating to TikTok, allowing them to spend more time on Instagram. So, while Instagram's copycat techniques may appear brash at first, there is a method here, and as more people align with short-form video content, Instagram should strive to align with it where it can. On the other hand, Instagram is testing a new ‘Favorites' audience selection feature, similar to Facebook Favorites, that would allow users to select specific accounts whose posts would then be given more priority in their feed.
As some have pointed out, Instagram's algorithms should already know which profiles are your favorites based on previous interactions, but, as with Facebook, the option would give users another way to control what they see more explicitly within their feed, effectively overriding the algorithm and ensuring that you see the most recent posts from the people who matter most to you. So, in essence, it's a move to give consumers more power, which is something that people have consistently expressed an interest in. Whether or not they do, and whether or not they would use it, is a different matter.
In any case, it could give you another way to manage your Instagram listings and make sure you see the most recent postings from your relatives and friends.