Instagram recently rolled out a new video-sharing feature called Reels, and so far it has proved useful to businesses looking to build brand recognition.
Instagram Reels seeks to compete head-to-head with the popular video-sharing platform TikTok. Users can create 15-second videos to share with their followers or to publish on the Explore page.
If you’d like to learn more about how your business can take advantage of Instagram Reels, keep reading.
What Is Instagram Reels?
Instagram was created in 2010 as a platform for sharing photographs directly from a smartphone. Users were encouraged to capture images with their smartphone cameras and instantly upload them to the platform, making their photos visible to their contacts and followers. Although it wasn’t uncommon for users to edit photos before uploading them.
And at the time, mobile video was less convenient and less common.
In 2016, TikTok came on the scene and garnered publicity for its video-sharing capabilities. Teens and young people adopted TikTok for much of their online video-sharing needs. In contrast to YouTube, the largest video-sharing website in the world, TikTok specialized in short, whimsical videos without a lot of search value or informative content.
Four years later, Instagram introduced Reels, a rival to TikTok but also a unique product in its own right.
While TikTok has dominated the market for silly, nonsensical videos shared between high school and college students, Instagram has a much larger and more diverse user base. Within a month of Instagram’s rollout of Reels, many well-known brands have used it to raise their visibility among Instagram’s 1 billion users.
Instagram Reels offers unlimited online marketing potential for business owners.
It’s a free service that is designed to produce viral videos as frequently as possible, so savvy marketers can use it to their advantage while also still leveraging the ability to schedule Instagram posts. The biggest challenge for marketers using Reels is creating authentic content that will appeal to Instagram’s user base. Once your content has been created, managing video reels on your Instagram page is easy.
How Can Instagram Reels Help You Increase Your Followers?
A viral video in any niche can attract thousands of new followers. Viral video has even spawned accounts that simply re-upload viral videos.
There are many popular social media accounts that do nothing but re-upload viral posts. Many of these accounts are linked to blogs that promote products in a certain niche, such as basketball, Labrador Retrievers or vape pens.
While there isn’t a sure-fire way to make a video go viral, one good strategy is to upload as many potentially viral videos each day as possible.
Instagram Reels makes that strategy easier and more efficient. Not only is Reels designed for viral exposure, but it integrates perfectly with Instagram’s Explore feature, making it available for playback among general users.
The temptation to treat Reels like free commercial airtime is strong, but that would be a mistake.
Instead, you can increase your followers organically by uploading useful, informative and entertaining clips no longer than 15 seconds in length. While this limitation may seem extreme at first, it’s really an advantage for online marketers creating a branding campaign.
Can It Help You Market Your Business’s Products?
When it comes to increasing awareness about a product or service, Instagram Reels also has you covered. Individual reels can be uploaded in a series of videos with no limit on the total number. The serial upload feature is a major advantage for marketers looking to move products on a separate website.
As with traditional advertising on Instagram, videos should point users in the direction of an external landing page or sales funnel. With skillful use of storytelling and videography, online marketers can make full use of these 15-second video clips to raise awareness of their products and convert viewers into customers.
The key to using Reels to promote a brand or online business is to work within the limitations of the 15-second format and to also ensure the use of relevant hashtags.
Depending on your type of business and how big of a following you have, the results could be interesting. For established brands, the best strategy is to use Reels to entertain people and bring new users into your customer base.
Less well-known companies should concentrate on producing highly informative how-to or explainer videos that go above and beyond viewer expectations. Popular video content can go a long way toward spreading awareness of your website.
Better Brand Visibility with Instagram Reels
A viral video can launch an online brand into the realm of major public recognition almost overnight. Immediately after Instagram Reels was introduced to users across the platform, the race was on to use Reels to boost brand visibility and gain an organic following. Savvy online marketers have found a way to use these popular video-sharing platforms to spread the word about their products and services.
While it has always been possible to share videos on Instagram, the introduction of Reels dramatically increases the number of eyes viewing each video. In the past, Instagram limited the length of video uploads to 60 seconds, keeping the site in line with its original theme of communicating through telegrams.
Now with the shorter video length and serial upload feature, it’s much easier to produce highly targeted videos that behave exactly like 15-second ads on Instagram. The challenge is to upload 15-second videos that spread brand awareness without coming across as inauthentic or spammy.
Leveraging Your Existing Followers
The ideal situation is to have an existing follower base from which to leverage an audience for your video reels. In this case, the usual rules of social media etiquette apply. Your followers should be treated with care to avoid offending them with excessive posts.
However, they will reward you for uploading high-quality content by giving your videos positive feedback, likes and shares. Your audience will grow organically, and you will spread awareness about your brand in the best possible way.
As your videos remain available to watch on Instagram, a constant stream of traffic will cross by your channel. You’ll be poised to divert that stream toward your landing page or sales funnel.
Whether you want to convert sales or raise awareness about your company, your video reels will continue to help you accomplish your goals for many years. A 10-year-old video could send traffic to your Instagram profile page just as easily as a new video. As new followers land on your page, many of them will click through to your blog or website. Others will simply remember your video and find your site later in a Google search.
Is Your Business Ready to Use Instagram Reels?
Using Instagram Reels couldn’t be easier, but there are a few pieces of equipment you may need to produce captivating, high-quality videos. For example, you could use a tool such as Write-on Video for editing your video content.
While some creators can produce great videos with just a handheld smartphone, most people will be better off using a tripod and some extra sources of lighting. A backdrop is also a good idea for informational or promotional videos.
The more polished and appealing you can make your videos, the more your audience will be willing to listen to you promote your business.
Teens and young people can get away with casual videos made with low production quality, but online business owners should put more effort into their recordings.
Although you may see viral videos recorded on smartphones in portrait mode by high school students, you shouldn’t copy this method when advertising your business, unless your budget is big enough to hire a top-notch marketing company.
The good news is that your business doesn’t need a big ad budget to create memorable videos. You can simply upload your 15-second promotional videos to Instagram Reels and put them on the Explore page for everyone to see.
Best Times to Upload Instagram Reels
Instagram is a different sort of platform than Facebook or Twitter, so the ideal time to upload can vary.
Your video uploads will remain on Instagram for years, and people will continue to discover your videos by searching and sharing for as long as they’re available on the platform.
You can still control the response to your videos by uploading them when your followers are most likely to see them.
Depending on your type of business, that time could be in the morning or at night. Most businesses will benefit from weekday morning uploads, but some businesses will be better off uploading at night.
The best upload time depends on your target audience and when they tend to be most active online.
If you’re targeting a general audience, upload your videos from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. On the other hand, if you’re targeting young men between the ages of 18 and 34, you’ll be better off uploading your videos at night when your audience is logged onto Instagram. If your audience includes young men and older married couples, you should upload videos in the morning and at night to cater to both groups.
Tips on Optimizing Performance
Most phones and cameras automatically format video files for efficient uploads, but you can tweak your settings to make them more convenient for streaming.
A 15-second video clip should be just a few megabytes in size. Most network connections can handle small uploads like this without a problem, so you can record your videos in a native format for better playback.
Instagram Reels accepts videos in MP4 format, which is the default choice for most smartphones and cameras. The best audio encoding format for Instagram is AAC, and the video-recording app on your phone should offer AAC format as an option in the settings.
The most overlooked detail of many online video uploads is the sound quality.
Audio data is also the component that becomes most easily degraded through compression. If your video reels have poor audio quality, they will be less effective in promoting your online business.
The microphone on your smartphone or camera may not be good enough to capture high-quality audio data. You can fix this problem with a boom mic or a lapel mic connected to your camera by an audio cable. These pieces of equipment range in price from $20 to over $1,000. With crisp, loud audio, your video reels will be much more enjoyable to watch.
Important Facts About Instagram Reels
So why has Instagram decided to compete with TikTok all of a sudden?
According to Later.com, TikTok received the highest number of downloads of any video-sharing app in a single quarter. The user base of TikTok is maturing from primarily teenage users to slightly older people in their twenties and early thirties.
The takeaway from this data is that short, viral videos are becoming a viable tool to reach the prime demographic of young people between 18 and 34. These are the people who become the most passionate about new products and ideas they discover online. Reaching this demographic is a major milestone in the growth of online marketing on social media.
What’s Next for This Powerful Tool?
Instagram Reels will continue to evolve as audience tastes change over time. Short, catchy videos will always remain relevant, so expect a huge rush to upload as many Instagram Reels as possible in the coming months.
At the moment, Instagram offers a comprehensive advertising system with precise audience-targeting controls. The Reels feature hasn’t been integrated into Instagram’s ad system yet, but it won’t be long before it becomes the go-to advertising format.
As TikTok and Instagram compete for ad revenue, each company will roll out new features designed to poach marketers from the other’s platform. If other social media companies get involved in the competition, online marketers could benefit tremendously. The developers at Instagram have only begun to explore the possibilities of this powerful tool. After several months or years of audience feedback, Instagram Reels will only become more popular and effective.
Since 2003, Chris Makara has developed a broad digital marketing background with a focus on SEO, Social Media, Automation and Analytics. He is the founder of Bulkly, a social media automation tool for individuals and small businesses.