A few years back, Instagram came up with stories to compete with Snapchat. Nowadays, it is TikTok, whose fifteen second videos are getting more and more attention, that is a social media addict’s favorite. Consequently, Instagram had to come up with a new feature to compete and they came up with Instagram Reels.
Instagram Reels is a TikTok inspired feature that confirms that videos is the way forward. It is also an attempt to take up with growth again as it had been quite slow for the past quarters. It is true that Instagram usage increased by 14% during the pandemic due to people staying at home, which is a much bigger number than previously predicted. However, it is nothing compared to the 78% growth that TikTok has experience in 2019.
Introducing Instagram Reels
After Instagram stories came around, not that many people thought much of it. Until it became such a popular feature that Facebook and Youtube also rolled out their own versions of stories. Instagram stories usage have now skyrocketed, way behond Snapchat’s. Will Instagram Reels follow the same glorious path of Instagram Stories? What would that mean for social media managers and brands? What do brands need to know about Instagram Reels?
All the answers below!
What are Instagram Reels?
Reels allow users to create engaging, fun, and short videos using a catalog of music and user-generated Reels media on Instagram. Their main feature – on TikTok at least – is to allow videos synced to music and audio. Users can also use green screen to create movie-like footage and videos.
Even though Instagram Reels appear as a direct competitor to TikTok, their main purpose remains to entertain. Reels will have the opportunity to go viral thanks to the Explore page, just like stories or post would. Just like Instagram stories, Reels last 15 seconds.
Not all Instagram users can access Instagram Reels just yet. Actually, while the feature was being tested in Brazil, it has now been rolled out in France and Germany. The feature is still in the testing phase, yet available on both iOS and Android.
However, you can expect Instagram Reels to be available worldwide very soon. Especially as stories before them, they may become a great source of revenue for Instagram through brand advertising.
How do Reels work?
Reels is at its core very similar to TikTok. If Instagram does want to get TikTok users to flock back to their app, they better not make this new feature much different nor more complicated to use.
To access Instagram Reels, users can open Instagram Stories camera and find the Reels icon on the right, just after “live” and “story”. Users will then be able to film 15 second videos and add audio from Instagram in-app catalog. Users will be able to find audio through the hashtag search or Explore tab or source audio by searching popular and trending sounds too.
Since TikTok is mostly known for its in-app filters, green screens and special effects, Instagram had to bring in something similar. This feature thus comes in with new built-in tools so that users can edit their videos. Right now, only four features are available. However, as Reels rolls out, more will pop up.
Much like on TikTok, users can start and stop recording multiple times during the 15-second video by pressing and holding the record button. Although Reels film like a story, they can be found on the grid in a dedicated tab like IGTV has.
Below is a video of how Instagram Reels should look like.
Instagram Reels is not a game changer
This new feature is the latest innovation by Instagram and will make the app more comprehensive. It may also help bring back consistent growth as well as get some TikTok users to go back to Instagram. However, from a brand’s point of view, it is not that big of a game changer.
Indeed, Reels is one feature among many. Thus, it will mostly depend on how brands use it, how they integrate Reels into their digital marketing strategies and whether this new feature is bringing them anything. In the end, it all comes down to brand tone of voice and content.
A brand can leverage many Instagram tools even if Reels is not specifically for them.
Some brands will struggle to incorporate music into their content strategy, especially if it is silly or amusing content. It may not fit into their tone of voice and image at all. But that is fine. Because there are plenty of other tools to use on Instagram and beyond.
No need to compromise your brand image to jump on a bandwagon.
What the feature means for content
Instagram Reels is another indication that video content is the number one content to turn to. People’s attention span is not longer than three seconds. Content needs to be catchy, attention-grabbing, captivating. And although still images can definitely achieve that, they are much more likely to be scrolled passed than videos.
Videos are moving content. People will be more likely to stop when content moves. They will want to watch the video, or at least the first few seconds. That is why short recipe videos work so well on social media!
It is no secret that video content’s popularity is exploding. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. This is 15 times higher than in 2017. People watch TV less and less. Only 47% of 17 to 49 years-old consider themselves “light” traditional TV users. Thus, they get their video content online.
Just like Instagram Stories soared in popularity shortly after being rolled out globally, Reels are a new way for Instagram to make use of video content popularity. Instagram will also find new ways to use them and they will eventually end up monetized or an advertising support.
What Reels mean for marketers?
Instagram Stories marked a major shift in how we create content, share and interact with social media content. They started as a way to show the behind-the-scenes of our daily lives until they became more curated. Stories made Instagram content more authentic. They are still used to show raw content.
However, the coming up of the swipe up feature, ads as well as product tagging on stories changed how they are used by marketers. They are now a full-on marketing and advertising tool. Some brands now exclusively use Instagram Stories to promote and sell their products via ads or influencer partnerships.
Reels is much more in the instant than feed post or stories. It represents an opportunity to increase and brand authenticity and transparency. Brands will be able to connect with users and their followers in new ways, which may be more effective than the one they use presently.
Instagram Reels is a new feature that marketer will need to learn about, play with and adapt to. It may become a huge marketing tools for businesses and thus cannot be ignored. Most consumers seem to prefer video content. However, Gen-Z seems to specifically favor authentic content that’s creative and expressive. So, Reels will empower brands to create this on Instagram.
Instagram Reels may seem intimidating at first and some brands may be reluctant to use it. Should the feature not fit a brand’s tone of voice, there are plenty of other features to use. However, Reels represents a great opportunity to improve authenticity, transparency and communication. Later on, it may become a great advertising tool too.