Even YouTube is adding Stories. The popular format introduced by Snapchat, then adopted by Instagram, Skype, Facebook, Messenger and even some dating apps, is now making its way to YouTube as a new feature the company is calling “Reels.” To be clear, Reels is YouTube’s spin on Stories, not an exact copy. And Reels won’t live at the top of the app, as Stories do on Instagram – instead, they’ll appear in a brand-new tab on a creator’s channel.
The launch of the Reels beta was mentioned briefly in an announcement today about the expansion of YouTube Community tab to all creators with over 10,000 subscribers.
We asked YouTube for more details on Reels, which will soon be introduced into beta for a handful of creators for feedback and further testing.
The company tells us the idea with Reels is to introduce a new video format on YouTube that lets creators express themselves and engage fans without having to post a full video.
Instead, creators make new Reels by shooting a few quick mobile videos of up to 30 seconds each, then adding filters, music, text and more, including new “YouTube-y” stickers.
And unlike Stories on other platforms, YouTube creators can make multiple Reels and they won’t expire.
Below is what Reels will look like for creators at launch, but be aware that the format could change ahead of a public release.
For video viewers, Reels may not mar the experience the way the addition of Stories did on Messenger or Facebook, where they weren’t as welcome.
Since Reels are posted to a separate tab on the creator’s channel, similar to Community itself, viewers could choose to go watch these new videos or not.
But if users engage with Reels, then YouTube will take that as a signal that you’d like to see them more often. That could trigger their appearance on the viewer’s YouTube home page as recommendations, YouTube tells us.
The arrival of Reels is one of a handful of changes for YouTube and YouTube Community, the social platform launched last fall as a new way for video creators to engage their fan base. A mini social network within YouTube’s larger social network, Community lives on a creator’s channel in its own tab, allowing them to share updates using text, photos, GIFs, polls, and more.
The audience can then thumbs up or down the content, as they do videos, and comment on the posts.
Also new to Community is a change to how posts work and are displayed to viewers. Now, a creator’s most engaged viewers will see Community posts in their Home feed on YouTube, even if they’re not subscribed to the channel.
YouTube says notifications are also now optimized so fans aren’t spammed with every new Community post.
Community was initially launched into beta with only a handful of YouTube creators, including John & Hank Green, AsapSCIENCE, The Game Theorists, Karmin, The Key of Awesome, The Kloons, Lilly Singh, Peter Hollens, Rosianna Halse Rojas, Sam Tsui, Threadbanger, and Vsauce3.
Today, YouTube detailed how some of its testers have been using Community so far. For example, Grav3yardgirl used Community to ask fans to pick what to unbox next; Lele Pons posted GIFs that serve as a trailers for her upcoming videos; Kevin Durant shares photos on NBA gameday. And some have used it send traffic to different channels, and other purposes.
YouTube did not say when Reels will arrive in beta, how long until it’s publicly available, or which creators will receive the format first.