When Instagram ‘reeled’ out their new feature, it was one of their most talked-about launches to date. Commonly referred to as Instagram’s answer to TikTok, Reels provide users with a new way to create and experience the platform. But, how are creators and brands using Instagram Reels, since they launched? Is it really just a replication of TikTok or are we seeing different variations of content appear on the platform? In today’s post, we explore how Reels has been received so far, as well as how people are using it in their content creation.
How do Instagram Reels work?
Reels are essentially short-form video content that can be directly edited and filmed in-app. Instagram has integrated Reels into the Explore Pages of its users, giving the feature a huge amount of real estate when you first open the page. Once you click into a Reel you are taken to the featured feed and can scroll through the long list of suggested videos, in a similar format to TikTok. This allows for greater discoverability for creators as users are constantly scrolling through the feed of different videos that are largely made by people they don’t already follow. You can also toggle whether or not you want your Reel to appear on the Explore Page, so for those who only want their direct audience to see it will still have the option.
How are brands and creators using Instagram Reels?
As we’ve already highlighted, Reels can be a great medium of discoverability and is a completely new way for both brands and creators to reach their target audiences. Let’s take a deeper look to see how both parties are using the new feature to their advantage!
Coming together for collaborations
Instagram has always been a platform that brands and creators would use to collaborate or carry out a campaign partnership. Whilst there are ads and partnerships on TikTok it has never been largely used for this purpose as of yet, which is where we see the main difference between each platform. Instagram has always been ‘shoppable’ and is increasingly driving more in this direction, so it’s not that surprising to see brands and influencers partnering up to create sponsored or collaborative content on reels. This is great for both influencer and brand, as they double the potential for visibility and traction of their content on the platform. Both parties benefit from the millions of potential eyes on the content that they have created that could potentially click on their handles.
Besides messaging and communication, one of the main reasons brands use social media is as a different means of driving conversions. A lot of brands are utilizing Reels as a way to showcase their products and promote a more playful ‘soft sell’ on the platform. For example, Louis Vuitton has been showcasing its Cruise collection all in the form of Reels, recruiting each model to create a Reel for each look. This not only shows off the product that the luxury fashion brand is presenting to their audience but does it in a subtle way that could be extended into a wider campaign with influencers, press, and media. This showcases just one of the opportunities for brands to extend a simple campaign into a global, far-reaching marketing strategy that is effective at driving conversions.
Using original audio
One of the best ways to increase discoverability on Reels is by uploading original audio and then making that go viral. This means other users will use or copy your audio for their own videos, so you want to make sure what you upload has ‘mass appeal’. Xbox encouraged their users to try out one of their iconic sounds when Reels first launched which spurred on gaming fans to recreate their own videos, using the same sound. This can really amplify the voice of a creator or brand, as Instagram works in a slightly different format to TikTok. If users like the original video, and explore that users feed, there is likely a plethora of different types of content that would then inspire them to follow the user. Instagram has so many mixed mediums on its platform, and users can find value-adding content on feeds whether it be through an IGTV or static post. Unlike TikTok, it is much more likely that there will be greater ease of gaining followers within the platform via Reels due to the different types of content on offer to followers.
A lot of people are experimenting with Reels to try and test the discoverability or views of a video when compared to TikTok. Because the platforms do have a similar style, creators are uploading content already made for TikTok, to Reels. This is a really great way to repurpose content and make it go further than just one platform. Whilst the two do have a crossover, it helps in maximizing your reach on each, and also allows you to push people to follow you on both accounts.
Putting a creative spin on viral trends
We’re already all too familiar with the challenges and trends that go viral on TikTok, but brands are using a fun and creative tactic to spin these ideas on their head.
Topshop is an example of a fashion brand that has creatively used Reels to showcase its new summer collection by putting together a fun lookbook, utilizing a typical trend loved by fashion influencers everywhere.
Creators are also doing the same, such as Marinela Bezer who used the viral ‘What I’d Wear’ trend to create original content on Reels:
Using Instagram Reels is an interesting opportunity for both brands and creators. What makes Instagram Reels different from a platform like TikTok is the opportunities that users have to extend their reach beyond just the video. Reels can be cleverly used as just one of the touchpoints along an individual’s journey before they hit that ‘follow’ button and can be a way to nurture your target audience or entice them to click on to your main feed or account. They are also a move by Instagram to potentially remove some of the seriousness surrounding the platform when it comes to the blurred lines between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘edited’.
Reels are a fun, comedic feature that relies on viral moments and definitely brings a new dimension to the fully rounded platform. We’re likely to see Instagram continue to make moves like this that mirror platforms like WeChat, who offer everything you need in terms of online media and shopping in one social platform.
P.S. You can still use hashtags on Reels to increase your discoverability even further! Find out how to use the best ones for your content here!