Instagram added a brand-new feature to the platform last year — Instagram Reels, and it’s rocking the marketing world!
One billion monthly active users on Instagram already use Reels, so your brand can’t ignore it.
Instagram Reels allows you to record and edit short video clips (3 to 30 seconds each), and add visual filters and effects, edit the audio, etc.
You can share the Reels with your followers through the Feed or via a newly created space accessible by the entire Instagram community through the Explore option.
If this concept sounds familiar, you’re on the right track. The Reels functionality has been compared to TikTok on more than one occasion. It certainly seems to be Instagram’s attempt to piggyback on the success of the viral video-sharing network from China.
Whether this was the motivation behind adding the feature, any brand identity agency will tell you that Reels has the potential to play a massive role in your marketing strategy.
TikTok and other viral sensations prove that consumer expectations evolve in the blink of an eye, and over one billion monthly active Instagram users are already using Reels.
This post will take a closer look at Instagram Reels and how you can use it as a brand-building tool. Let’s get right to it!
- Quick Introduction to Instagram Reels
As I briefly explained above, Instagram Reels allows users to shoot and edit short videos, adding special effects, stickers, music, text, etc.
The update also includes a separate feed for exploring the Reels. Similar to TikTok’s For You page, the Explore feature lets users access a never-ending feed of Reels by tapping the clapperboard-shaped icon at the bottom of the screen.
This is another addition to Instagram’s selection of video forms, joining the temporary 15-second Stories, 1-minute videos on the Feed, and the long-form IGTV posts.
- Creating and Publishing Instagram Reels
There are two ways in which you can create a Reel:
- Hold the red Record button in Instagram’s camera to begin capturing video
- Upload a pre-recorded video from your device
A Reel can be made from a series of short clips uploaded sequentially, or it can be just one longer video. Whatever method of uploading and editing you choose, you should keep the following in mind:
- All Reels are in full portrait mode (9:16 aspect ratio)
- A Reel can last between 3 and 30 seconds
- You can only upload and view Reels on mobile devices
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s take a look at a quick step-by-step guide to publishing an Instagram Reel:
- In your iOS or Android Instagram app, tap the + button to create a new post. Navigate to the Reels section at the bottom of the screen.
- Use the available options to customize your Reel. The options include:
- Music — allows you to search and add tracks to your Reel
- Effects — will enable you to add Instagram filters and goofy effects
- Speed — enables slow-motion and speeding up your footage
- Timer — lets you choose how long the Reel will be and adds a countdown before recording
- Hold the Record button. If you set a timer, this will start the countdown.
- If you used the Timer function, the recording will stop once the preset time runs out. Alternatively, press the Record button again to end the clip. Once you’ve recorded a clip, the Align button will show up. This button lets you create seamless transitions between individual clips in your Reel by aligning objects from the previous clip.
- Once you’re done recording your Reel, you can enhance it with stickers, text, and drawings.
- The > button in the bottom right corner lets you publish the Reel, provided you have a public account, which you really should for a business; your Reel is now available to a global audience via the Explore page. Instagram chooses a selection of public Reels to feature on the Explore page to help users discover new and original content. If your Reel is selected and featured in Explore, Instagram will send you a notification.
- How Reels Can Help You Build Your Brand Identity
If you don’t have Reels on your radar, it might be time to rethink your digital marketing and branding strategy. Things change quickly in today’s world, and trends become viral sensations overnight. In this climate, the creators, influencers, brands, and digital marketing agencies that get in on the action early are rewarded.
To stay relevant, you must keep up with customer expectations, and staying relevant is key to success, especially if your customer base includes zoomers and millennials.
There are 3.5 billion social media users globally, and the average user spends about three hours a day on various social media platforms. Roughly half of the users spend their time researching products, while over 70% say that having a positive experience with a brand on social media would make them more likely to recommend it to friends.
Moreover, 73% of marketers think social media marketing is at least somewhat effective in growing their business. OK, social media marketing’s usefulness has been a no-brainer for a while, but what about Reels specifically?
Since Reels is still a relatively new feature, with not much research backing it up, we can use TikTok, the platform it was based on, to measure its effectiveness. The formula that Reels uses is undoubtedly highly effective, as TikTok has managed to amass almost 700 million monthly active users as of July 2020. Arguably, the appeal of this formula seems to be the fact that it brings us all back to the time when anyone could go viral on social media and delivers quick and snappy entertainment.
I’m also willing to bet that Instagram’s algorithm is set to favor accounts that regularly publish and engage with Reels, as it is a new feature directly competing for views with TikTok. There’s no official confirmation of this, of course, but let’s call it an educated guess.
All of this goes to show that you should probably take advantage of this moment and take the opportunity to use these fun short videos to reach a new audience. Gaining more Instagram followers is a step toward achieving more conversions and long-term customers.
Getting your brand in front of as many faces as possible isn’t the only reason to use Reels. You can and should use Instagram’s latest feature to build your brand by showcasing your values and personality, educating your audience and showing what exactly makes your products and services stand out from the pack.
More on that below.
- Using Reels to Showcase Your Brand’s Values and Personality
Social media marketing relies on personal connection and communication with prospects much more than hard-selling, traditional marketing. If you can use social media to craft an authentic voice for your brand and truly resonate with your target audience, you’re much more likely to find success.
The most successful social media marketers show customers that their values are similar. Instead of focusing on trying to sell, this form of marketing is about inviting your audience to join an exclusive club — to become part of a team that reflects who they are and who they hope to be.
A carefully planned and crafted Instagram Reel can be one of the most effective tools for showcasing your brand’s value and personality, thereby building trust and engagement in your audience.
- Using Reels to Educate Your Audience
While on the subject of engagement and trust, I would be remiss not to mention one of social media marketing’s core principles — education. Educated prospects are far more engaged and more likely to complete a purchase.
Unfortunately, educating today’s internet users is not very easy since their attention spans and patience are only getting shorter. Reels is the optimal way to command your audience’s attention and spread your message as wide as possible, thanks to their quick and digestible format.
- Using Reels to Highlight the Features of Your Product or Service
Why should people buy your product or use your service? What is it that your brand offers that others don’t? Are you using your marketing channels to highlight the differences between your products and those of the competition?
Reels is the perfect opportunity to use creative videos and capitalize on the freshness of the format to show your points of difference in action.
- Getting the Most Out of Instagram Reels
Instagram’s new feature might be quick and snappy, but if you want to be successful, there’s more to it than just grabbing your phone and shooting a short video. Using the Reels feature to its full potential requires some preparation, as is the case with any other marketing channel.
The good news is that once you’ve laid the foundation and found your style, you’ll find it increasingly easy to reach and attract new audiences. Here are some ways to get the most out of Instagram Reels.
- Do Your Research
Before you even begin conceptualizing your Reels, you need to do a bit of preparation. Reels may be a relatively new feature, but I don’t have to tell you that countless videos have already been published using it, amassing millions of views.
If you know who your target demographic is, the first step is to watch a few (or more than a few) Reels popular among this demographic. If you don’t yet know who your target audience is, you should probably hire a digital marketing company and get that aspect figured out first.
Once you’ve seen what works with your ideal customers, be sure to check out what your competition is doing with Reels as well. There are two things you could learn from this:
- If your main competitors are using Reels, you could see what they are doing right/wrong and use the information to create a better strategy.
- If your main competitors aren’t using Reels yet, you have this entire marketing channel to yourself, at least for a little while, so take advantage of the opportunity.
- Create Storyboards
Reels aren’t Stories, and they aren’t meant to have the same spontaneous feel to them. Don’t shy away from storyboarding your Reel ideas before you begin shooting.
Begin by setting a clear objective for your clip and mapping out how you will achieve it shot by shot. Don’t get carried away, though — you only have 30 seconds at your disposal. Stick to no more than three tips or points in one Reel.
- Make Genuinely Valuable Content
This is easier said than done, but my point is that you should try to focus on capturing your audience’s attention by offering useful tips or engaging content, rather than trying to push your product at any cost.
If you can establish your brand as the industry authority, you’ll have users organically flocking toward you, and your brand identity will grow naturally. Try to use Reels to show your users creative ways to use your products in bite-sized videos. These will help establish your authority, boost your credibility and promote the connection you have with your audience.
- Use Popular Posts as Inspiration
Popular stuff is popular for a reason. Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas and concepts from other creators and build on them. Obviously, I’m not saying you should plagiarize other people’s work, but even the best pieces of art are inspired by something, so it’s OK to “stand on the shoulders of giants” in your Reels as well.
Look for posts on all platforms that have garnered attention and try to fit them into the Reels format. You might even want to go through your blog analytics and note which posts got the most organic traffic. Then, try to communicate the same information in a new format.
Social media is an ever-evolving marketing channel, but one thing about it remains consistent — its popularity. Every new feature from Instagram and other social media platforms gives brands another opportunity to capture a new audience.
If you’re willing to adapt your social media marketing strategy (and if you want to be successful, you should be), give Instagram Reels a shot.
Instagram’s response to TikTok offers a quick and easy way to engage and relate with your audience by inspiring and teaching them. Who knows, you might go viral and make it big!