It’s likely by now you’re familiar with the term Reels: the name of Instagram’s latest addition which launched in August 2020 and has caused a stir ever since.
Dubbed as trying to steal TikTok’s limelight, the 1-30 second video feature has everybody talking. Even more so when Instagram placed Reels as the main function button in the navigation bar in place of the post upload tool, the new content format became impossible to ignore.
So, what exactly is this new feature and what does it mean for social media marketing?
Reels have been coined by Instagram as a place to create, watch and share entertaining videos of up to 30 seconds. For business and influencers, the tool aims to create a space to be discovered on a global stage by fresh audiences and bring a new way to connect with your community.
On the flip side, Reels aim to be a place for app users to find the best of emerging culture and watch moments from brands and influencers in real-time - meaning the standard algorithm rules do not apply and followers can get exposed to your content in a new and reactive manner.
So, why bother?
Instagram Reels appear in multiple places throughout the app; the new Reels tab, the explore page and not forgetting the old-fashioned way, appearing on newsfeeds.
Instagram Reels have a unique way to target users, making it the most favourable way to ‘beat the algorithm’ regardless of follower size. The Reels newsfeed is driven by your location, who you’re following and the pages your account interacts with. This makes it the perfect way to reach a greater Instagram audience who already seek out similar accounts, setting it apart from other video formats on the platform.
How do Instagram Reels work for business?
Alongside creating the opportunity to reach a new audience, the tool is a great way to build your strategy. Here are a few ways it can help build your brand:
Showcase your products or service
Show off your brand personality
Educate your customers
What’s more, the content format gives you another place to engage with your audience and help build key relationships. If you’re an Instagram user, you’ll likely have interacted with the content, even if you hadn’t identified the videos as Reels. Top tip, you can recognise an Instagram Reel by the logo that features on the bottom left of Reels on your main feed and explore page… if you hadn’t noticed them before, you will now!
How does creating an Instagram Reel work?
They can be filmed as one full video, or you can film multiple snippets and bring these together, either uploaded to the app or filmed directly on Instagram. The ease of Instagram Reels makes it easy to adopt, especially for those who already feature video content within their content.
What do I use them for?
Reels are a great way to tell a story, whether that be showcasing your brand's style, product, or service and can even be used as a new approach to some old favourites such as testimonials, reviews, or behind the scenes content. If none of this sounds like it applies to you or your business may be thinking of giving Reels a miss. Maybe none of your industry competitors has used the format yet, so you've decided to hold off? We say this is a great reason to jump on board.
With the high rate of Instagram updates, it’s likely the algorithm won’t stay around forever, so why not see how it can help your Instagram strategy now? Even better, your brand could be part of the narrative to shape the Reels landscape within your industry, it’s a great place to give short-form content a try without straying too far away from your loyal community on the app. Becoming a recognised account in the Reels space now could help lead to credibility and trustworthiness as popularity grows for the short-form video format, this could benefit your page in the long run, especially if promoting a product or service.
What do Hydrogen think about the new addition to Instagram?
Sitting somewhere between 24-hour stories and long-form IGTV it’s the content format we all have time for. Have you noticed your Instagram consumption changing since the feature launched? At Hydrogen, we have found ourselves engaging more, following with new accounts, and seeing a whole host of new faces on our feed, without straying too far from the content we enjoy. Whilst some may wish Instagram Reels adopted TikTok’s 60 second video format, we find ourselves wondering, have Instagram been clever in allowing us to view more than twice as much content in the same amount of time? Watch this space as Reels continues to grow and adapt.
Whether you’re team TikTok, missing the old-school Instagram feed or your addiction to the app has a lot to answer for on your weekly screen time reports, short-form video content is not going away anytime soon. We believe it won’t be long till we can’t remember an Instagram feed without them! It’s a great time to get involved.
Looking for a place to start?
Here are Instagram’s tips on how to use the feature, and some accounts to watch for Reels inspiration: