Using Instagram Reels to Elevate Your Social Media Strategy

With an average of 80 million monthly users from the US alone, there is no denying that TikTok appeals to a massive audience. However, while user numbers have boomed since the platform became available in the US in August 2018, brand adoption has been tentative and slow. Why? For starters, many business owners and marketers don’t see the value in allocating the time and resources necessary to learn an entirely new platform and grow yet another audience from scratch. They’d rather stick with what they know: Facebook, Instagram, and, in some cases, Twitter. Additionally, with 60% of its users between the ages 16 and 24, TikTok appears to not have a diverse enough audience to be considered a worthwhile venture. 

If you’re anything like us, because of these reasons, you’ve steered clear of TikTok, thinking it best to leave to the younger generations to have their fun. But now, with Facebook’s introduction of Instagram Reels, it seems as though these short, looping videos are making their mark beyond Gen Z, Millennials and have the potential to add real value to your small business or brand. 

We’re here to answer everything you need to know about Instagram Reels and how you can use it to elevate your small business’s social media strategy. Let’s dive in!

What’s The Difference Between Reels and TikTok?

Similarly to when Instagram developed Stories following Snapchat’s success, the Facebook-owned social media giant answered TikTok’s rise to stardom with its latest feature, Reels. While Reels looks and behaves much like TikTok, there are a few minor differences. 

The first difference is: time limit. While TikTok users can create video content up to 60 seconds in length, Reels’ limit is 30 seconds.

The second difference is: paid ads. TikTok does offer paid ads, which are currently cheaper than those of Facebook and Instagram. At this stage, there are no advertising options available for Reels, meaning you cannot pay to boost your Reels or buy a featured spot within the Reels page on Instagram. That said, we’d wager marketers that jump onto Reels now won’t be waiting long for this inevitability to occur.

The third difference is: music. Mashable SE Asia asserts that a significant deciding factor for users between the two platforms will be music choice. They state, “There’s been no official statement yet from Facebook on this as of yet, but the tech giant has confirmed that it’ll be launching licensed music soon.”

If TikTok Is So Popular, Why Should I Favor Reels?

Yes, TikTok is widely popular, but what’s stopping Instagram from having a similar boom with the adoption of Reels? At one point in time, Instagram ran the risk of being overtaken by Snapchat. Today, the latter sees an average of 46 million monthly users in the US, while the former sees an average of over 120 million. Instagram has never allowed itself to be outsmarted or left behind for too long, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.

While TikTok has been used to boost brand awareness, the platform was mainly designed for entertainment. Yes, some accounts saw success creating educational content and people have praised brands like Sephora and the NBA for using the platform to showcase their fun side. However, most users are flocking to TikTok for things like challenges, lip sync battles, and humor. They are certainly not making any purchasing decisions from TikTok alone. Business pages can’t even link their website via posts or on their account page, only to their other social channels.

Instagram, on the other hand, is a multi-functional platform you can use to educate customers about your product or service, boost brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and, ultimately, drive sales. Instagram seamlessly nurtures clients from start to finish of the sales funnel. With Instagram Shop, you can even use it as a mini e-commerce site. Now, with the introduction of Reels, you have the opportunity to show a more personal, light side of your brand using a platform that you are already familiar with. You do not have to clear the hurdle of justifying adopting an entirely new social channel to yourself, your team or your existing followers. The learning curve is minor and your audience is already there.

It’s also worth noting that TikTok is at risk of being banned from the US due to it’s supposed risk to national security, although they say they are not going anywhere. Facebook has also seen its fair share of bad press in this regard recently, but, being a US company, they don’t run as high a risk of being shut out of the market.

How Can My Small Business Benefit from Reels?

Simply put, video content is the way of the future. Biteable predicts that video will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022. Human attention spans are getting smaller by the day, and people are becoming less and less willing to sit down to read a long chunk of text or even watch a more lengthy video. The popularity of platforms such as TikTok and Reels, which tout minute-long or less content, proves this.

Reels offers Instagram marketers a new opportunity to go viral. Reels videos are far more likely to get engagement than standard posts due to their content’s interactive nature. Because of trends like challenges, react videos, duets, etc. users are not as passive as they might be when scrolling through the main Instagram feed. Like TikTok, the user interface of Reels keeps people captivated, with its continuous scroll and the entirety of your screen taken up by video.

Can’t I Just Stick to Stories or IGTV?

Well, you could, but consider that Reels provides features and benefits that both Stories and IGTV lack. With Reels, you have access to built-in speed controls, augmented reality (AR) effects, and transitions that aren’t available from the other Instagram offerings. You can seamlessly edit a video clip within Reels instead of being forced to use a third-party application or website. 

The Reels section within Instagram mimics TikTok’s feed. This means that, with the right strategy, your Reels content will be much more discoverable outside of your current network than Stories or IGTV, which users typically only see if they follow a specific account or hashtag.

Short-form content is increasing in popularity, especially among young audiences, making Reels much more appealing than other types of video content. Younger audiences are, if not now, your future customers and nonprofit donors – not to mention their incredible creativity and entrepreneurial and activist spirit. Jumping on this trend now will surely benefit both businesses and nonprofits in the long run.

How Do I Get Started with Reels?

If you’ve made it this far, we’d like to think you are at least considering building Reels into your social media repertoire. That’s great! And you’re probably wondering, what are some best practices for getting started? We can help you there, too.

Before you begin, it’s always a good idea to brainstorm topics and test out features. If you’re at a loss for what kind of content you want to make, we’ve compiled a list of ideas for you:

  1. Repurpose your existing content
  2. Showcase your products and services
  3. Make educational content
  4. Capture behind the scenes moments
  5. Collaborate with other local small businesses
  6. Tap into trending content

It’s important to remember that the name of the game in Reels is keeping it short and sweet. Your video needs to be attention-grabbing, easy-to-follow, and, ideally, incorporate a popular tune or audio. Not sure what song or audio to choose? Have a flick through Reels and see what’s trending. Remember: people crave authenticity and connection; don’t be afraid to show your customers who you are! Once you’ve created your video, make sure to use relevant and popular hashtags that will increase your reach.

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The bottom line: this kind of video content is here to stay and will likely continue to evolve over time. In our opinion, Instagram Reels is a safer bet than TikTok due to the mainstream nature of the platform and the seamless integration it will have with your current social media marketing efforts.

Still not sure where to begin with Instagram Reels? We’ve got you covered. KB Concepts has the experience and expertise to keep your business’s social media strategy fresh and at the forefront of trends. We’re happy to brainstorm ideas with you – contact us for a free session today! 

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