Over the past 2 years, Instagram has become one of the most popular apps used by Gen Z and younger millennials. Even Gen X and Boomers are adapting to the newer, faster-moving pace of Instagram. According to Omnicore, at the beginning of 2021, an estimated 71% of U.S. businesses claimed to use Instagram for Business.
Instagram started testing reels in Brazil in November 2019 to aim to give users more content creation opportunities. Instagram describes their reels as "short, entertaining videos on Instagram where you can express your creativity and bring your brand to life." Instagram reels have been known to have similar features as TikTok, which was a strategic move for the brand.
Reels Versus Stories
Some might say Instagram reels are similar to the stories feature on the platform, but there are a few differences.
Length: Reels are up to 30 seconds long whereas each story is 15 seconds in length. You can have multiple stories, but reels allow you to tell your story with no cuts or interruptions in 30 seconds.
Format: Instagram reels are video only whereas stories can include images and posts from the Instagram feed. However, some apps such as "InShot" can help by allowing pictures in your reel.
Captions and hashtags: Instagram reels allow full captions and up to 30 hashtags unlike stories which have no captions and only 10 hashtags per story.
Engagement: Like feed posts, users can publicly comment on reels whereas Instagram stories comments will come in form of direct messages.
Lifespan: Unlike Instagram stories, Reels do not disappear after 24 hours. They will stay housed in a dedicated reels tab on your profile.
Placement: Reels can be shared in 3 locations: On your own reels feed, on the main Instagram feed, and on the explore tab. They can also be shared to Instagram Stories.
Why should you pursue this? Free Reach!
The goal of posted content is to reach as many people as you can. You want people to see your content and raise engagement. Instagram reels can do all of this for FREE. As mentioned above, when you share a reel, it will go in 3 different places where users can potentially see and view your reel. Adding hashtags will also promote your reel for free.
How reels create free reach:
When you create a reel it also asks if you would like to share it through the Facebook feed. This creates two chances for reach on two different platforms, but with one post.
When you add hashtags to your reel, this allows your reel to come up as users search those hashtags.
Sharing a reel also shares it to the explore page (if public) and will allow your reel to pop up on user's feeds who could possibly have interest in your reel.
Audio Focus: when adding a song to your reel, it will put that reel in the same song's "feed". When users click the sound of that song, your reel has the potential to come up for even more reach and engagement.
What to remember when creating your Instagram Reel:
Song choice is key to expanding reach. Make sure to choose a popular song that is current to increase your chances of being seen.
Statistics show user's attention spans are down to 8 seconds which means, the beginning of your reel needs to catch attention FAST. Never make your reel too long unless it is some really good content.
Hashtags are your chance of showing up on feeds, but be careful when choosing them. Your chances are low for showing up on hashtags with 1 million posts. Try and think of unique hashtags that have under 1,000 posts so your reel has a chance to be seen.
Editing is fun and eye catching. Make sure to utilize Instagram's editing features to make your reel stand out. There are also editing apps that can give you even more filters and effects.
USE CURRENT TRENDS! We can't say it enough. If a current trend can work with your message, use it! The reason they are trends in the first place are because so many users enjoy watching them. Even if they are not your cup of tea, it may be exactly what you need to get the reach and engagement you want.
Check out some captivating brands that are implementing reels in their digital strategy: