Can Reels save Facebook? – Protocol

Good morning! Facebook sees the future, and the future is short-form video. But is it too late? I’m Sarah Roach, and I saw “The Tina Turner Musical” on Broadway over the weekend. Highly recommend it!

Facebook goes full TikTok

I’ve never shared a link to a Facebook Reel with a friend. In fact, I don’t really scroll through Facebook Reels at all. Maybe it’s because I’m part of Gen Z and find Facebook generally boring, but Meta is desperate for that to change.

Facebook rolled out Reels globally yesterday. The platform’s TikTok clone has been available in a few countries, including the U.S., since September, but it’s now expanded to 150 different countries. Along with the global rollout, Facebook also introduced new ways for creators to use Reels and monetize.

Facebook sees Reels as the future of social media, even though the company is by no means the one defining the future of social media. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok have made it clear that short-form video is where social media is headed, and Facebook is following suit.

  • Mark Zuckerberg said Reels is the platform’s fastest-growing content format “by far,” and sees it as an opportunity for people to make money. “We want Reels to be the best place for creators to connect with their community and make a living,” Zuckerberg said.
  • Not only is Reels becoming more popular on Facebook, but it’s also the only place where Facebook can effectively compete with massively successful platforms like TikTok and YouTube. And it’s starting by taking it global.
  • “We’re going to continue to focus on short-form video, given how important of a shift it is we’re seeing worldwide,” Adam Mosseri said yesterday.

Facebook is hoping that Reels will entice more kids to use the platform, too. Facebook hasn’t been considered cool among younger generations for years, and internal documents show that teens are spending less time on the platform. But Facebook is hoping that maybe, just maybe, this will bring them back.

  • During Meta’s earnings call earlier this month, Zuckerberg outlined two big priorities: pivot toward short-form video and serve “young adults over optimizing overall engagement.” He said competing services like TikTok are negatively impacting its growth in that area.
  • Mari Smith, a social media marketing consultant, said Facebook is even going so far as to prioritize Reels over other monetizing tools like Feed (formerly News Feed). “[Facebook] is trying to woo this up-and-coming generation … to try to make Instagram and Facebook more attractive to that audience,” Smith told me.
  • By prioritizing Reels, Facebook is basically admitting that its other features just aren’t enough anymore. Messenger Kids, which was for people too young for its main app, faced a ton of backlash, and the metaverse isn’t designed for children.

But just because others are doing short form doesn’t mean it’ll work for Facebook. After all, Instagram and Facebook were photo-sharing platforms before they were video-sharing platforms, and “pivoting to video” isn’t for everyone.

  • Even if creators do make the move toward short-form video, Smith said Facebook’s reputation might be too far gone for Reels to be successful anyway. “[Facebook] would almost have to have a brand new, highly innovative, highly sticky kind of app that has nothing to do with Zuckerberg’s name or Facebook or even Meta,” she said. “And that’s never going to happen.”

Still, money talks. And Facebook is willing to pay. All of the short-form video platforms are racing to come up with new ways to incentivize creators, and Facebook isn’t going down without a fight.

  • Creator Hank Green has said he makes even more money from Instagram Reels than he does on TikTok, so Meta’s two social media platforms do stand a chance. Instagram creators can earn money based on the performance of their Reel, and users have reportedly gotten thousands of dollars from just a single video.
  • In Facebook’s announcement yesterday, Zuckerberg said creators can now share their Instagram Reels to Facebook. That kind of reach might net more cash for creators as a result. (Facebook and Instagram’s bonus programs are separate.)

Facebook sees Reels as the future of social media, and as the future of its own product, because it doesn’t have any other choice. The platform might not be hip or fun among younger generations anymore, and you won’t catch me scrolling through Facebook Reels anytime soon (if ever). But if I were a creator and Facebook proved to me that I could make a living there, then I wouldn’t care how “cool” people think it is. Count me in.

—Sarah Roach (email | twitter)

On the calendar

So you decided to go multicloud. Now what?

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People are talking

Circle’s Jeremy Allaire said his talks with lawmakers about crypto are going a lot better:

  • “If I walked in the room [back then] and said, ‘I’m doing like a crypto bank,’ people would think I’m an alien.”

Crypto professor Tonya Evans said as tech evolves, laws will, too:

  • “Technology is going to have to comport with the laws, and as it continues to develop and comes at tension with existing laws, the question is: do we tweak and amend?”

Making moves

SoFi is buying Technisys, a banking-software provider, for $1.1 billion.

Travelport is considering an IPO, sources told Bloomberg. The travel-booking software provider could go public later in the year.

Joaquin Quiñonero Candela joined LinkedIn as its first technical fellow for AI. Candela worked at Facebook for almost a decade as a distinguished tech lead for responsible AI.

Nana Fynn Class-Peters joined Twitter as its first social marketing lead focused on West Africa.

Adam Tice is Colonial Pipeline’s new CISO. Tice previously led security operations at Silicon Valley Bank.

Greg Kelton joined Virsec as its new senior regional director for EMEA. Kelton previously worked at Checkmarx and Flexera.

In other news

SWIFT sanctions against Russia aren’t in the cards. The U.S. is considering other sanctions against the country, but restricting Russia’s access to SWIFT wouldn’t be as effective as targeting the banks directly.

Ukraine has a plan to protect its data from Russia. It centralized its computer systems years ago, and is now ready to move or delete data to avoid it being seized, POLITICO reports.

Tech jobs are moving farther away from the West Coast. The percentage of job postings outside the West Coast jumped 43% since 2019, with Texas, Virginia and New York becoming more popular tech hubs.

Amazon is suing two companies for facilitating fake reviews. The company is accusing AppSally and Rebatest of connecting third-party sellers with people who would write positive reviews of their products.

Activision is delaying a Call of Duty game planned for next year, sources told Bloomberg. It’s the first time the franchise won’t come out with an annual release in almost two decades.

Apple is lifting its mask mandate at most retail stores. Customers are still encouraged to wear masks, and workers are still required to wear them.

Blockchain.com employees can work in a new Miami office. The company leased an office in the city’s Wynwood Arts District after moving its headquarters from New York to Florida last year.

Netflix is toying with comedy clips, called Fast Laughs: a series of funny short videos from various shows and movies on Netflix.

How did you spend your Slack snow day?

For what felt like hours upon hours yesterday, Slack users everywhere (Protocol included) felt the stress of figuring out how to communicate during a Slack outage, while at the same time enjoying the time “off” from Slack.

Protocol moved over to Discord, which one reporter said felt like we were having class outside. Many turned to Twitter to crack jokes and see if others were facing similar issues, and others felt left out of the fun because their workplace uses Teams. Even Slack took the opportunity to share some wisdom in a little inspirational post on LinkedIn.

If anything, Slack’s outage showed that having a backup plan isn’t the point. The true gift of a Slack outage is the friends we made along the way.

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Thanks for reading — See you tomorrow.

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