With governments around the world looking to ban beloved app TikTok, Instagram’s ‘Reels’ could not have launched at a better time. Are you ready for a new era?
Time is certainly ticking for TikTok as growing competition and government pressures continue to stunt their growth in certain areas around the world. In late June this year, the Indian government banned TikTok over national security concerns, and the U.S. Government is set to follow suit.
Luckily, Instagram has stepped in the ring with the answer – introducing ‘Reels’ last month worldwide, a function that some have cited as “a worthy TikTok rival”.
So, what is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels enables users to create engaging multi-clip videos to share with Instagram followers. Sharing similar features to TikTok’s video-recording interface, Reels clips can be edited with all kinds of functions.
- Effects – Instagram has a library of visual effects that you can add to your Reels, created by other users and Instagram themselves.
- Audio – Select from an existing library of songs and sounds or use your own by recording a Reel with it.
- Timer/Countdown – Allows you to record your Reels clips without the need to hold your device.
- Speed – To make your video more interesting, you can increase or decrease the speed of your video or audio.
- Align – Allows you to edit separate clips together to make smooth transitions or cut unnecessary parts of your Reels video.
‘Reeling’ in good content: What Reels videos should I post?
Depending on the nature of the content shared, Reels can be used to connect with a creators’ audience.
Create a ‘Challenge’
Learning from TikTok’s successes, musicians have been able to gain exposure for their songs by creating ‘challenges’. Songs that have gained widespread popularity with TikTok users have included the American Hip-hop rap track ‘WAP’ by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion (#WAPChallenge), with more than 1 billion TikTok views in total.
Musicians from other countries have also benefitted from TikTok exposure, including South Korea’s Zico with his track ‘Any Song’ (#AnySongChallenge), inspiring many other artists within the K-pop industry to adopt similar marketing strategies and spread awareness of their music releases.
With glaring similarities to Tik Tok in the Reels interface and the potential to reach a larger audience via Instagram, who’s to say that similar ‘challenges’ can’t be replicated in Reels? Create a hashtag and get started!
Educate your audience
Self-isolation has created the perfect opportunity for people to start learning new skills and taking up new hobbies.
Reels creators can leverage trends in these hobbies (e.g. cooking and sewing) to create educational content that’s engaging with their audiences. For example, if you are a content creator that focuses on fitness and wellbeing, some short Reels ideas may include:
- Mistakes You’re Making at the Gym
- How to do a push-up (for beginners)
- …and so much more!
Who said educational videos had to be boring? Viewers can ditch those long-term online skills courses and enjoy bite-sized lessons on all kinds of topics relevant to your content styles with Instagram Reels – for FREE!
Promote your business
If you are a business seeking to expand their marketing strategy in the Instagram space, Reels is a great opportunity to engage with your customers. Posting short snippets of product demonstrations, previews and behind-the-scenes content are great ways to gauge interest and improve the credibility of your offerings. Businesses such as cosmetics brand ‘Colourpop’ have adopted this idea on multiple platforms including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram (Stories and posts) and now Reels. Posting behind-the-scenes content at the production site and doing ‘swatches’, these videos have racked up to 1.7 million views per Reel.
‘Reeling’ in a competitive advantage: How do I make my Reels stand out with AR Filters?
Reels not only allows for the creation of video content but also the embellishments that make them stand out. As a creator, you can make your own AR filters and share them on Instagram for users to add to their videos. This isn’t new for Instagram, as creators have been able to do so for Instagram’s Stories function already.
The ability for content creators to make their own interactive filters using 3rd-party software and their imaginations shows that Instagram is a far better platform in supporting creators to increase brand awareness and expand audiences.
Want to learn more about how to make AR filters for Instagram Stories and Reels? Hootsuite have some fantastic tips on how to get started.
‘Reeling’ in an audience: How do I get more interactions with my Reels?
24-39 year-olds comprise a large proportion of Instagram’s user base, so the transition from TikTok to Instagram Reels should be well received by this demographic group. TikTok’s demographic base was and is becoming made up of more millennial users than ever before, so if you’re a creator or business looking to target this demographic, you will find Reels to be a fantastic strategy to expand your audience.
For creators and businesses with established followings on Instagram – the addition of Reels videos to your account may supplement your content offerings and boost your credibility with newer audiences. As a prime example, luxury goods company Louis Vuitton, with over 39 million Instagram followers, have captured a whopping 7 million Reels views on average.
Now, where do users find your Reels?
Explore Page: Instagram’s existing ‘Explore’ page is a tab within the Instagram interface that displays trending posts, IGTV’s and now Reels, according to an algorithm. Similar to TikTok’s ‘For You’ page, when you tap on a Reel and continue scrolling, more Reels clips will be shown. The goal as a content creator is to have your Reels clip tagged with a ‘Featured’ label, which means that the Reels you uploaded has been hand-picked by Instagram themselves, improving the credibility of your content.
Feed: If you upload a Reels clip to your main Instagram feed, your followers can view your videos without distracting themselves away from your other Instagram content. Similarly, followers can access your Reels via your profile page.
Song, Hashtags, Effects: Your Instagram Reels clip may be discovered by users if they tap on the audio or effect you used; or the hashtag you applied
‘Reeling’ in the Money: How do I make a profit from Reels?
Instagram’s existing features (Feed, Stories, IGTV) has allowed for brands and influencers to establish business partnerships via sponsored posts and Analytics functions built-in to the app. Although Instagram have not (yet) officially pledged a monetisation strategy for influencers wishing to create content with Reels, producing more of it will likely get PR teams’ heads turning.
Have we ‘Reeled’ you in?
With news of TikTok on its way out in certain countries, content creators must keep up with consumer trends and the platforms that their target audiences are frequenting.
For loyal TikTok creators, now may be the best time to jump ship to Instagram Reels. As a one-month old feature on a highly popular mobile app, Reels brings an opportunity for creators to start fresh on an established platform that has stood the test of time.
Yijing (Jenny) Wu is a final year Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Melbourne. Double majoring in Economics and Finance, she also enjoys exploring the quantitative and qualitative aspects of influencer marketing and how it intersects with dynamic consumer trends and behaviours.