Instagram Reels is a new feature launched by Instagram on August 5. It enables users to create, share, and discover short and entertaining videos on Instagram. With Reels, you can record 15-second videos and add audio or effects. Besides, you can share the videos on your profile or on the explore page if your Instagram account is public.
If this feature sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Reels is Instagram’s direct strategy in competing with TikTok, whose popularity has skyrocketed over the past year. According to Adweek, in just the first quarter of 2020, TikTok was the most downloaded app in a quarter.
TikTok’s initial demographic was mainly Gen Z, but this rapidly changed and currently millennials make up the majority of the users on the app. The platform’s popularity with different age brackets quickly attracted brands and entrepreneurs who leveraged the app’s popularity to market themselves.
Although Instagram has a slightly older demographic than TikTok, its familiarity with most users might result in users who would not have otherwise used TikTok to experiment the Reels feature on Instagram. In this ultimate guide, we answer any questions you might have had about Reels, such as what it is, how it works and how you can integrate it into your marketing strategy.
What are Instagram Reels?
Reels is not a new app as it lives entirely inside of Instagram, similar to InstaStories and IGTV. Instagram users will be able to record 15-second videos, add music to the videos and various effects and filters over the videos.
There are three ways users can upload content on Instagram Reels—as a series of clips, all at once, or uploading videos from their photo gallery. The new camera features on Reels are quite similar to the ones on TikTok that offer options to adjust the speeds, set timers, add audio, and apply special effects to the video.
There are private and public options for sharing the videos on Reels. Reels created by users with private accounts will only be shared on their feeds and stories. However, for creators who would like to grow their following on Instagram, it is advisable to have public accounts so that a wider Instagram audience can discover the videos.
With Instagram Reels, both influencers and creators can monetize their content through brand deals and sponsored posts. However, unlike the main Instagram feed, Reels users will not be able to add branded content tags, which influencers and creators use to show that it is a paid partnership to promote the product.
What is the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok?
Although the TikTok and Instagram Reels are visibly similar, there are a few differences.
- Tie-in to the Instagram ecosystem
The biggest difference Reels has from TikTok is its integration to an already existing Instagram ecosystem. Reel is not its own world like TikTok. Users can create and send Reels to their friends directly on Instagram while using the existing filters and tools without having to download any other app as everything users would like to do is already part of the existing network.
- Time limit
In early 2020, TikTok extended the time limit for its videos to 60 seconds; however, Instagram Reels are limited to 15 Seconds. .
- Choice of music
Currently, Instagram Reels users are not able to duet with other users, which is one of the core features that TikTok builds upon. Additionally, Instagram does not allow users to upload songs directly to their videos. This limits artists that might want to use the platform to grow their audience.
Furthermore, users with business accounts on Instagram will not be able to add music to their Reels due to licensing restrictions.
- Ad formats
On Reels, influencers and advertisers cannot pay to have their content highlighted on the featured section compared to how it is on TikTok. This could be one of the strategies Instagram is implementing to attract more users and creators to its platform.
How does Instagram Reels work?
To create Instagram Reels, users go through the following steps:
Step 1: Select the Reels icon at the bottom of the Instagram camera. This will take you to a variety of editing tools that will help you create your video or upload it from your photo gallery.
Step 2: You can add audio by searching for songs in the Instagram Music Library. You also have the option to use your original audio or music by recording it with Reel. Once you share a Reel with original audio, the platform automatically attributes it to you and in case your account is public, other users can create reels using your original audio by selecting it from your reel.
Step 3: On the left side of your screen, three other icons allow you to add effects to the videos, adjust the speed, or set a timer for when you want to record a video hands-free.
Step 4: If you want to create seamless transitions for outfit or background changes you can line up objects from your previous clip before you record a new one.
Step 5: Record your clip by clicking and holding the capture button. If you set a timer, you will see a countdown before it starts. While recording, you will see a progress indicator at the top of your screen.
Step 6: Share your Reels by moving to a share screen where you have the option to save a draft, change the video’s thumbnail, add hashtags, or even tag other users.
All shared reels have a separate tab on the user’s profile but there is an option while uploading the reel to share it to the main profile. In this case, the reel will appear on the main profile grid but can be deleted later. Reels shared on the user’s Story, close friends or direct messages will not appear on the user’s profile and will disappear after 24 hours.
You can watch reels on Instagram by browsing your feed to watch reels created by users you follow or by going to the explore page to watch the trending videos on Instagram. Some videos on the Explore page will have the “Featured” label, which shows it has been specifically chosen by Instagram to help its users discover original content.
How Can You Integrate Reels into Your Marketing Strategy?
Reels’ bite-sized content has kept most users engaged and coming back for more. This could be the main reason why some brands and businesses such as Sephora France, Louis Vuitton, and FastandFood are already using the platform to grow their businesses and market their products.
Showcase your products
Reels shared by public accounts can be found on the explore page, where they will be viewed by a larger audience. This provides brands and businesses with the opportunity to create awareness about their products and drive sales from the platform.
For instance, Jonak Paris, a footwear company shared a reel to showcase their summer collection in a creative way.
Share product reviews
Instagram Reels provides your business with a creative way to share customer reviews of your products. Instead of the normal looking reviews, you can add effects, music, and transitions to entertain your followers.
Share behind-the-scenes videos
Behind-the-scene content helps brands gain the trust of their customers while building relationships with them. Since Instagram Reels has access to a larger audience, you will be building relationships with a larger audience.
Behind-the-scene content bridges the gap between the business and customer making you appear relatable and more human.
Share educational content
Sharing educational content is one way to create a niche and attract new followers to your profile. This does not mean lecturing your customers, instead it means educating them on your products in a fun and entertaining way.
For example, if your account is dedicated to selling make-up products you can create educational videos, your reels content could talk about:
- How to apply makeup for beginners
- Beginners Eye Makeup Tutorial
To further connect with your audience, you could collaborate with influencers they love to promote your products.
Repost Tik Tok videos
You can create new content on Reels that resonates with your target audience or if you already had a TikTok account, you can repost them on Instagram Reels to attract new audiences and followers who do not have TikTok.
What is next for Instagram Reels?
Apart from becoming a space for brands and businesses to share their creative content, Instagram Reels has great potential to become a way for advertisers to push their products to their target audiences. Although advertising options are currently not available on Reels, it’s possible that Instagram will provide a way for advertisers to place ads in between reels similar to how it is on Instagram Stories.
An in-depth analytics feature might also be in the works, to enable brands and businesses to better understand their followers and communities. Currently, Reel creators only have access to views, likes, and comments on their videos. Overall, it is undeniable that Instagram Reels provides creative opportunities for both brands and businesses.