Instagram has recently deployed a new content feature, Reels. Alongside standard posts, live streaming and stories, Reels is a new way of creating video content on the platform.
You can prerecord snippets of video one-by-one and then string them together to create a single Reel. Reels differ from live videos, as you can take and retake your shots. Each Reel can be up to 30 seconds, twice the length of videos used in Instagram Stories. Their other advantage over Stories is allowing multiple clips.
Reels also have some basic video editing tools that are a step on from what is available with Stories. Alongside music options you can add timed text. This text appears and disappears within a clip. There’s also an align tool, allowing a basic onion skin technique. You can see a faint outline of the previous shot to see if the next shot lines up.
Reels launched in over 50 countries in August 2020. It offers a new way for businesses to present themselves (their products and services) to their audience. Read on to learn more about this new and exciting feature, and how to use it in your marketing.
Anyone familiar with other social media trends this year has noticed it. Much of what Instagram Reels provides is similar to what TikTok provides. So why use Reels and not use the platform it imitates?
TikTok may end up being the most downloaded app of 2020. But Instagram has a user base of over a billion and is about the sixth most downloaded. Instagram has a large user base and is still growing. When you want to target your marketing, Instagram is more likely to be the channel your audience uses.
Often, companies that want to use new social media functions spend so long deciding whether to or not, the moment passes. Social media marketing should include a certain amount of experimentation, and dare I say it, a little risk sometimes.
As with any new creative endeavour don’t fixate on an exact formula. Keep what you want to use your Reels for focused on a specific thing, try different expressions of that thing, but do try things.
There are many benefits of getting in early.
Firstly, there’s no rigid definition for how you use Reels, we can see what people are doing, but there’s no long-term information on what’s successful. And even when there is, the breakaway success will be things that either go against the norm or take it somewhere new. That’s hard to do if you’re new to a platform’s function.
Secondly, you can benefit from the excess in attention that’s being poured on to Reels. With your usual hashtags in place, people in your target audience will be able to find your Reels. If you’re one of the first in your space to adopt Reels, then you have an opportunity to own that space, gain views and grow your following. Every day there’s more Reels content and more competition for views, so if Reels can work with your content plans, you should consider starting soon.
Finally, your audience will see you as a company that is comfortable trying new things, adapting to audience expectations. You’re putting content where they’re looking and that’s an additional connection you make with them beyond products and needs.
As mentioned above, there are no hard and fast rules about what content works with Reels yet. One thing that’s easily identified though is people in the content. Many reels feature a person front and centre. Giving their hot take on something. Playing out a skit, demonstrating a skill, dancing, reacting and a host of other things. Reels can be an opportunity to present a more personal side.
There’s a multitude of ways in which you can do this. Behind-the-scenes videos can give your audience an insight that they don’t get elsewhere. With the short form of Reels, there’s no need to go into great depth. For instance, you could introduce someone from the office “Here’s Ian from development, what are you working on Ian?” Ian gives a coy answer about something exciting that’s currently ultra-top secret.
You could do product demonstrations, not with all the sheen and polish of an advert, but in a familiar way. You can use features like timed text to emphasise either points in the demonstration or to reinforce what someone is saying. Clarice is demoing a product. She says “It’s a masterpiece, durable and yet beautiful at the same time.” You can have words like durable and beautiful appear on the screen when she says them.
Presenting your products in a familiar way, in a truer functional setting, allows your audience to see what you have to offer. It takes products off closed-set pedestals; putting them into relatable everyday environments instead. The audience won’t mind that it’s not shiny, slick and polished, they’ll appreciate that it reflects real, or should I say “reel” life.
As with all new platforms and features, you have to decide if Reels will fit into your marketing plans. They don’t meet every brand’s tone. I’m not saying you can’t do Reels to promote your funeral parlour. I’m saying you shouldn’t because their general tone is at odds with the solemnity of what you do.
But. If your business wants help incorporating Instagram into your social mix, in a personal way, contact us. We can help you generate ideas and content that fit the format, fit with your audience and hit your marketing targets.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Lead at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. He follows too many raccoon accounts on Instagram.