For more than a year, brands and influencers have been trying to make sense of and capitalize on TikTok’s massive surge in popularity. TikTok was the most popular non-gaming app on the apple play store in February 2020, and by mid-March, the app had 1.9 Billion users world-wide. Businesses saw this rapid user adoption and major American brands like Chipotle, Skittles and Nickelodeon have partnered with TikTok influencers as a way to connect with younger consumers. Seeing TikTok’s explosive growth, backdropped by ByteDance’s September 15 deadline to sell its American operations to Microsoft or face an outright ban in the United States, Instagram has responded with its latest feature: reels.
The growing demand for this type of content was certainly a factor in motivating Instagram. Since the short display time of stories was not interesting for creators, Vishal Shah Product’s vice president, explains that this new format aims to optimize how users’ search. According to him, the main goal is to make sharing more simple.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Reels are a tool in-app where users can create a max 15-second vertical video, add music and filters to their micro videos. Instagram even has its own “For You Page” where users can see reels from accounts they follow, but also from accounts recommended to them based on hashtags, location, and “the algorithm”.
Users can also choose how to share the video. It is possible to publish the content in the Stories or Feed, send it via Direct Message or share it directly on the “Explore” tab, expanding the view to other audiences.
To find the reels feature, start off as if you were going to create a story and you will see the option to create a reel. This is what the feature will look like.
WHY MY BRAND SHOULD BE USING IT?
First of all, reels have higher engagement rates than posts, stories, and IGTV. The Instagram algorithm for reels is still very young, but early adopters in Brazil, where reels launched for testing before the feature was introduced to North America, found that reels got shown to more of their followers, especially reels that were shared in their feeds.
Additionally, reels can get found much more easily than other types of content in the explore tab by people who do not follow your account. Similarly to TikTok’s for you page, Instagram’s algorithm could push reels that you create to users who do not follow you based on assessments of user interest in the reel and the region in which a reel was created. Instagram’s algorithm for reels is designed to promote content that users connect with and allow it to go viral. This presents an exciting opportunity for major brands and start-ups alike to market their businesses and connect with audiences more effectively.
Here are some ways in which reels could become even more powerful tools for brands on Instagram.
INTEGRATION WITH ESTABLISHED FOLLOWERS AND PREVIOUSLY CREATED CONTENT
From well established brands to start-ups, in a lot of ways, creating a TikTok account means starting from scratch. A new beginning on a new platform can feel exciting, especially for the entrepreneurially minded, but Instagram reels creates a lot more value for brands on the platform in that this new feature provides a new way for accounts to get found and acquire new Instagram followers. A single new instagram follower, for most businesses, is more valuable for a brand than a single TikTok follower.
This is because instagram has other features like posts and stories that followers can engage with. Additionally, more instagram followers means more data that can be used to create more targeted instagram and facebook ads. TikTok has seen explosive growth, but integrating features from TikTok to promote content that brands have already created, to engage with communities of followers brands have already acquired, and to do so in a way that more compatible to data driven marketing could make Instagram reels a much more lucrative alternative to starting from scratch on TikTok.
CUTTING IGTV VIDEOS INTO REELS
Creators are always not only searching for ways to create more content, they are also searching for ways to get more out of the content they create. Cutting longer videos that are intended for IGTV into multiple shorter videos is one of the ways brands have gone about creating content for TikTok. This is a highly efficient strategy for video content creation that brands could employ to create Instagram reels as well. An added bonus of reposting 15 second snippets from IGTV videos as Instagram reels ensures that the content brands put out as reels is optimized to the audience that sees it. This can be an effective tool for TikTok, but it is not a foregone conclusion that a brand’s TikTok and Instagram audiences are similar and will respond the same way to the same pieces of content. Even better, brands can double dip and share the same clips they would post on TikTok as TikToks on Instagram as Reels.
INSTAGRAM REELS ARE AN EXCITING NEW MEDIUM FOR BRANDS
Creating and sharing video content is a great way to grow, promote, and humanize a brand, and Instagram reels are an exciting new way to do that. Reels have all the great features that TikTok has but with all the benefits of promoting the posts, stories, and IGTV videos brands are already creating, as well as integrating in Facebook’s ad manager platform. The ways in which brands could effectively and efficiently create content for reels mimic the tactics they have employed on TikTok. Brands can amplify the stories they tell on TikTok by sharing content that they were already using to make TikToks, on Instagram as reels.
As it did in introducing Instagram stories in 2016, Facebook has looked to recreate features from its competitors and introduce them to their own platforms. While it is too soon to say whether reels will be successful in moving TikTok users and creators over to Instagram, reels will without a doubt, will become a valuable and exciting new medium for brands to create deeper connections with consumers. While there is no way to know exactly how reels will be used by the community, one thing is for certain; everyone here at We-Rel8 (make as a link) is excited about this new feature.
Alicia Correia, Partner Digital & Eric Sheppard, Social Media Manager