In the past couple of years, we have witnessed video content come to the forefront on social media platforms. Vine, the microblogging app released in 2013 where users could create short 6-second clips, could be considered the beginning of this content shift. However, it wasn’t until the recent growth in popularity of the similar app, TikTok, that video content on social media really skyrocketed.
Now, other social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have been scrambling to adapt to this new trend and allow their users to create and access similar short-form video content. YouTube has their “Shorts” video concept, while Instagram has launched their own “Reels” section, which offers flexibility for creating short or long-form videos. While most marketing departments already understand the value of a social media presence, this relatively new form of content may still be eluding some businesses. However, if you are looking to empower your online presence and grow your business, then you need to look into Instagram Reels.
Instagram Reels offer many opportunities for businesses to engage with their audience (and expand it) perhaps even more so than the apps that inspired them. Even if you’re a small business, you can take advantage of Instagram Reels. We also understand that accommodating video content will introduce a new logistic concerns that many businesses may not have dealt with yet, and that is why we are offering this guide to Instagram Reels.
We will explain what an Instagram Reel is, what benefits they offer to your business, and how you can get started creating your own. By the end of this article, you’ll be better positioned to add Instagram Reels and video content to your marketing repertoire.
What is an Instagram Reel?
Instagram Reels, as defined by Instagram, are “entertaining, immersive videos where you can creatively express your brand story, educate your audience, and get discovered by people who may love your business”. Now businesses are not the only users allowed to post Reels, but the same features that make them appealing for social interaction can make them successful in business marketing. To understand how the Reels came to be, you can not discount the influence of TikTok.
It is likely that most people would have heard of TikTok by now, as stories regarding the platform are released on major news sites on a near daily basis, and even government officials comment on or create with the platform. While TikTok officially launched in 2016, it wasn’t until 2019 that rapid growth took place, and after reaching a billion downloads in February of 2019, it only took 8 more months to gain half a billion more. Instagram Reels were born as a response to this massive boom, as Instagram saw that users highly valued this short-form video content. While Instagram was mostly known then (and still is today) for photo content, their Reels have quickly surged in popularity, and may even rival the prominence of TikTok.
Instagram Reels allow users to create short and long-form videos, that can utilize any song without worrying about copyright, and offers many built-in effects for users to enhance their videos. A big selling point of Reels and why it is so accessible to users are because videos can be edited in the app itself. This means that Instagram users won’t have to download apps and learn a new interface to post videos, it is all conveniently packaged in the app, where you can swiftly add your content to your account.
This easily digestible content is great for allowing users to post their vacations and daily adventures, but it has also found a footing among businesses and marketing departments. Even Instagram recognizes its usefulness and now advertises towards business owners so that they may understand the growth potential Reels possess. Just like singers, artists and other influencers may use Reels to attract new audiences with this content, businesses can act in the same capacity, conveniently packaging their products and advertisements to appeal to their current customers and easily expand to attract new ones.
With an understanding of the features and functions in place, let’s now discuss how Instagram Reels can benefit your business.
What are the benefits of Instagram Reels?
The tools in place to help create Instagram Reels are incredibly beneficial for discoverability. Let’s break down the various features of Instagram Reels, and how they can contribute to your business growth.
The effectiveness of video content cannot be overstated. Blog content and traditional word-based social media posts are valuable in their own right, but video content offers a level of accessibility that makes it one of (if not the most) effective content formats. For instance, a study conducted by Conviva regarding different sports teams in different leagues noted that the NFL saw 67% more engagement with their Reels, than with their normal Instagram posts. Likewise, the NHL saw a 51% increase in engagement, while the NBA saw 43% more engagement.
These sporting bodies are already massive corporations with near unlimited advertising budgets, and yet the shift to video content on Instagram still provided a drastic difference in interaction with their audience. This is also important to recognize as Instagram Reels may represent an “equalizer” of sorts when it comes to video content. These large sports leagues can and do pay for extensive TV ad time and have the funds for high-quality commercials, but the casualness and simplicity of reels make it so that even smaller businesses with less wealth can take advantage of this system as well.
With video content, you can simply convey more information at one time, and it allows you to flex your marketing team’s creativity, in ways that more traditional content may not.
Trends (Hashtags and Songs)
Another very important advantage offered by Instagram Reels is how your business can utilize trends to help reach an audience that might not normally find you. If you are already well acquainted with sites like Twitter or Instagram, then odds are that you are already familiar with hashtags and how they can serve content discoverability. Reels, however, empower this feature even further.
If you browse the gallery of Instagram Reels, then you will see how many captions are filled with relevant hashtags that can help the content be picked up by users who want to enjoy more of a topic, rather than a specific creator or business. This is significant because even if you have an audience that desires your product, they may not know how to connect with your brand. With Instagram Reels, a large part of the platform is designed for casual browsing, picking a few key hashtags and then just enjoying the content that comes suggested. If your business can plan properly, and take advantage of trending hashtags in creative ways, then you can very easily cast a wide net to attract new customers to your brand.
Perhaps even more significant than hashtags is the audio feature. With the audio tools offered by Instagram Reels, you can use any song you like copyright free. This is a big advantage over other platforms and formats where copyright can present a huge barrier to content creation. If you can identify popular and trending songs, this can provide a huge boost to your discoverability. Users will be drawn in by the most noteworthy songs of the day, and while your content does not have to focus on the song, in particular, just having the audio in the background can provide a high level of discoverability to your content.
How to make an Instagram Reel
With the significance of Instagram Reels established, let’s talk about how you can start creating your own and boosting your brand's image. We’ll offer a step-by-step guide that not only covers how to make a Reel but the best practices for making them successful as well.
Download Instagram if you haven’t already and open the app on your mobile device.
Tap on the “+” sign in the upper right-hand corner and choose “Reel” from the drop-down menu.
A new screen should appear, choose “Audio” from the options on the left-hand side of the screen. This will allow you to choose the song you want for your video, and you will be able to easily view all the currently trending songs, or you can search for a specific tune you have in mind.
After selecting your song, you can begin recording by pressing the large white button in the center of the screen at the bottom. Alternatively, if you have already recorded content, or have pictures you want to include, you can tap the icon with a “+” sign in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to add previously recorded media.
Side note: Your Reel will only record for the duration of your song, so once the song has ended, you will not be able to record anymore for that particular reel.
After you have finished recording your video, you can then add special effects, text, and other features to the final product. This provides a lot of opportunities to be creative, so don’t be too hasty to post. Make the most of your content with the tools available.
When your reel is complete, you can then tap “Share” to post it to your account. Congrats you have just made your first Reel! (You also have the option to Share to the Instagram “Explore” page, which is how your business can be more easily discovered by Instagram users.
Tips and Best Practices
Now that you have the information needed to make a reel, we should discuss some tips for making the most out of your Reel. To begin, it is important to know how you can turn this short-term video content into longer-form content.
Individual Instagram reels are usually set at 15, 30, or 60 seconds. However, you can essentially make a longer video by chaining individual Reels together. After you record one, you can begin recording another, continuing with the same content you were previously recording. You’ll want to make sure information and objects on the screen matchup and are consistent throughout the individual clips, but all-in-all linking Reels together is not too complex of a process.
Also, regarding audio, songs are a very big draw for Reels, but you can include your own voice or other voiceover clips as audio for your Reels as well. This can be a great opportunity for businesses looking to show walkthroughs or otherwise offer an explanation of their product or service for the watchers of their Reels.
If you are unsure of what content your business could offer on Instagram Reels, here are some ideas to get you started:
Educational content regarding your industry or product line
Promotional offer announcements
Product or service showcases through b-roll
An insider look at your business and operations
Customer product try-outs
There are more avenues than ever for businesses to market their brand and reach new and existing customers. If you are a business looking to grow in the current business world, then you cannot understate the value of social media platforms and their user base.
Platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have made broadcasting to consumers incredibly accessible, however, it is still important to approach your marketing strategy with an intelligent plan in place. You can easily become burnt out or spend lots of time on ineffective initiatives if you dive into marketing plans without sufficient knowledge of the platforms you’re using.
Instagram Reels offer a great opportunity for businesses to interact with their current customer base, and to connect with new audiences. With the help of this guide, you should have a better understanding of how to create this content, and how to conduct yourself on the platform. Consider what impression you want to make on your customers and observe the current trends and methods of other competitors on the market.
When considering the best options available to market your business and achieve more growth, you should not underestimate the power of Instagram Reels.
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