By Michelle Graff
Special effects, as seen at left, are one of the features of Instagram Reels, the app’s answer to TikTok that debuted last week. (Photo courtesy of
Menlo Park, Calif.—Instagram has introduced a feature that allows user to create short, looping videos complete with music, filters and special effects, its answer to TikTok, which exploded in popularity during the pandemic.

Called Instagram Reels, it rolled out last Wednesday in the midst of uncertainty about TikTok’s future in the United States.

Reels works from the app’s camera function (top left of the screen when on the home page). Users simply slide over to Reels, then hit record.

On the left-hand side there are a handful of editing functions, including tools for controlling the speed, adding effects and timing the clip.

Reels are only 15 seconds long, but multiple clips can be stitched together to create a montage.

Examples of montages from some of Instagram’s most-followed users include actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba (@jessicaalba), who did one to promote her Honest company face masks, and model Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss), who strung together her best catwalk looks from over the years.

Reels live in a separate tab right above the main profile grid, where others will be able to see all the Reels a user has done.

The short videos also can live in the main profile grid if the user chooses to share them to their feed.

Duvall O’Steen, a communications strategist, senior consultant for Luxury Brand Group and co-author of the Creative Connecting column for National Jeweler, said on Friday she had not personally tried Reels yet, but would give much of the same advice she has for TikTok.

Use a tripod when filming to keep the camera steady and get better-quality video, and “keep it fun and lively.”

“This is not the place for classic jewelry video,” O’Steen said.

She also recommends creating custom or branded audio to go with the video. Retailers, for example, could use the music from their latest commercial.

More information about how to put together Reels is available on
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The launch of Instagram Reels came one day before U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing U.S. firms to stop doing business with both TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, and WeChat, a multi-purpose app developed by tech firm Tencent.

Trump cited national security concerns and data privacy issues as the reasons for his move to ban the Chinese-owned apps in the U.S. The ban is set to take effect in 45 days, with those violating the order facing a $300,000 fine per violation and even criminal prosecution.

NPR reported over the weekend that TikTok owner ByteDance plans to sue the Trump administration over the executive order, which it says is unconstitutional.

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