What’s the deal with Reels?
We knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time before Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, copied—sorry, I mean “innovated”—a feature to compete with their biggest threat in the game right now, TikTok. As a Social Media Manager (SMM), when I saw the announcement of Instagram’s newest feature, a bittersweet feeling swept over my body and I internally sighed. Mastering a platform’s algorithm, its features and implementing them into a thought-out strategy takes time (and a lot of experimentation). So, I think all SMMs can agree that we get excited at the thought of a new challenge, but also cringe at the thought of needing to, once again, learn something new and start fresh.
For those who may not be familiar, TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based multinational internet technology company. It’s used to create short 3-to-60 second music, lip-sync, dance, comedy and talent videos. However, TikTok has been in turbulent waters since early July with the Trump administration due to privacy and security concerns. In a recent article by CNET, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, mentioned in an interview that Trump was considering banning the app because it could make US user data accessible to the Chinese government. The administration then turned its focus to force a sale of the app to a U.S. company. Enter Microsoft. The multinational tech conglomerate began discussions with ByteDance to purchase part of the business, and have plans to finalize talks no later than September 15, 2020. Given the above information, you can see how Facebook was extremely opportunistic with the timing of its Reels release. However, we’re not here to talk politics. We’re here to talk about Reels. Moving on!
(For a comprehensive 101 guide to Reels and how to use it check out Part 1 of our Reels series.)
What Reels means for your business/agency.
Let’s state the obvious: Reels is a new way to grow, strengthen and build upon both your community and reach. Take this opportunity to gain some fresh exposure to new audiences by jumping in during Reels’ early stages. If you take away anything from this blog, it’s that it’s extremely important to capitalize on Instagram’s new features as soon as they launch. It’s a tried and true fact that Instagram’s algorithm favors accounts and drives traffic to those using their newest features. So do yourself a favor and create a simple Reel. If you don’t have the capacity to make a creative and inspired piece, create a short 15-second video with repurposed content you have on your phone or computer.
Reels offers brands and businesses the opportunity to share condensed creativity with a valuable and lengthy caption. Put into play your content marketing and capture your audience with valuable content and short videos that are perfect for those infamously short attention spans.
Instagram’s newest feature has opened up a new avenue for brands and businesses to creatively share their personality. Get quirky, create a community or strengthen the one you already have. Most of all, show your human side. At TJA, we’re huge advocates for a fun and positive culture in the workplace and Reels is the perfect platform to share it to your audience.
In addition to sharing your personality, Reels now gives you more opportunities for leveraging yourself as an industry expert on Instagram by sharing educational content and quick-form tips. You can also showcase products through outfit changes for retail, creating menu items for the food and beverage industry, showcasing hotel features if you’re in hospitality, sharing the progress of creating client work within an agency—the possibilities are endless. It’s all a matter of dedicating time and getting creative.
Speaking of time, your brand or business will want to take into consideration the amount of time Reels will take in order to succeed. Both TikTok and Reels are extremely time consuming. There’s no way of avoiding it either: video precision, choosing the right effects, selecting music, all these details require a lot of attention to detail and time. That being said, if your business or agency doesn’t have the bandwidth or time to dedicate to Reels, it might not be the best feature for agencies to offer as a service for clients and, instead, consider having done in-house. You can also consider partnering with influencers on long-term contracts. They can dedicate the time to create videos about your product or services. You also may see a quicker return on investment by using an influencer for Reels because they’ll have an established audience that regularly watches their content.
You’ll want to note that if you currently have a business account, you won’t have the option to add music to your Reels. This should not come to you as a surprise, because if you have a business account on Instagram you also don’t have the music sticker or the option to add music to your Stories. According to an article by The Preview App, this is due to copyright infringements and other agreements. If you’re comfortable with getting rid of your business account, you can make the switch to a creator account. Creator accounts are meant to fulfill the needs of influencers and creators who don’t have a business yet and want more insight into how their account is performing. You’ll still have access to insights and analytics, but will have less call-to-action features that a business account would have.
On the analytics note, currently the only insights available for Reels are view count, likes and comments, but we predict this quickly and dramatically changing as more people begin to use it.
The Future of Reels:
What does the future of Reels look like? Bright AF. When Instagram Stories launched in 2016, there were 150 million users. Now, four years later, over 500 million accounts use stories every day. Give that last sentence another read. Yup, 500 million users every damn day. If this is any indication at all as to what the future of Reels looks like, we’ll leave it at bright AF.
We also see Reels adapting and changing in the future. Currently, you can only use limited stickers and gifs on Reels, but as more Instagram users jump on the Reels bandwagon and give their feedback to the Instagram Gods, we expect to see a number of the features we use on Instagram Stories be released for Reels such as the Shoppable sticker and Swipe-Up links. Not only will it be a space for brands and businesses to share creative content, but an additional avenue for advertisers to push their products. Get your wallets ready, because we predict that—similarly to how advertisers can place adverts between TikToks and Instagram Stories—the advertising opportunities will be similar for Reels.
Whatever your brand or business though, there’s a creative opportunity waiting for you and we’re all about creative opportunities at TJA. So what are you waiting for? Get your Reel on.