A Guide to Instagram Reels and How to Use them More Effectively

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By Boris Dzhingarov

Instagram has had a long history of copying features from competitors to retain its audience. They first did it by introducing new filters and stories to compete with Snapchat. They now bring us Instagram reels, which look like a direct response to TikTok.

As you may or may not know, TikTok has exploded during the pandemic and started to eat into some of Instagram’s market shares. This seems to be one of the reasons why Instagram decided to take action and release this new feature. Let’s take a closer look at what Instagram reels are exactly and how you can use them better for branding and marketing.

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are short 15-second videos creators can record and release as posts. Unlike stories, these reels are available to the public and can be found in searches. And since Instagram is trying very hard to push this new feature, they will tend to privilege reels in searches, which gives plenty of opportunities for creators to get more exposure.

People can both search for reels from people they follow or use the reels explore feed where they can see reels that are trending or from popular accounts. Note that the algorithm is still pretty loose at this point, but top reels will usually be influenced by the people you follow, the content you engage with, and your location, among other things.

Now that we know a bit more about reels, let’s take a look at how you can use them in an effective way for your business.

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Focus on Content that Helps

There are many differences between the TikTok audience and the Instagram audience, and you have to think about this when creating content. For one, you should be spending more of your time on providing content that is useful to them, instead of trying to follow trends or do cool voiceovers.

People on Instagram are more aspirational, and content that will help them in their everyday life will work the best. This is why how-to guides work very well on reels right now, and trendy videos that provide little value are pushed down. Some of your content can be whimsical or entertaining, but you should focus on educating your audience on what matters to them the most first.

If You’re Going to Talk About Yourself, make it Engaging

“Me” content is not the most popular on reels, but that doesn’t mean that you should never talk about your business. If you want to make content more engaging, one thing you could do is bring people into your creative process. Seeing the design and brainstorming process for a product people are looking forward to is something most people would love. This could also help tease some of a product’s features, and show your company’s attention to detail and quality.

Another thing you could do is use reels to introduce members of your team. You could interview some of your employees, or see them practicing a hobby they love, for instance. This will help put a human face to your company and can be efficient when used in good measure.

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Focus on Aesthetics

Instagram has always been aesthetically driven, so you will need to give your videos some thought before you upload them. Know that you don’t have to record in-platform. You can stitch videos together and use another program for editing.

Instagram recommends, however, that you use native editing tools, and it would be a good idea to get familiar with those to give your videos a uniform look. Mix the high aesthetic value of Instagram and the quick content side of TikTok while focusing on providing value.

Offer Special Deals and Discounts

Another thing you could do is keep your users engaged and loyal by offering discounts. Instagram reels could be a great way to advertise an upcoming product, for instance. If your account is set up for shopping, you could give them an exclusive discount right on the spot. Don’t forget to tag the item to make the experience as seamless as possible. You can also use Instagram reels to let people know about a seasonal or flash sale.

Use the Ecosystem to Your Advantage

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and you can use this to your advantage. This means that a paid campaign can go from a Facebook timeline to messenger chatbots, to sponsored stories which will then translate to real engagement on reels. Try to see how reels can work as part of your social media strategy and see if you can use insights from your Facebook campaigns to craft content.

Make the First Image and Seconds Count

Like on any video content platform, you have to make sure that you pull your viewers in the minute they see your video. The first seconds will be very important, so use anything you can to grab their attention. This can be a sticker on the top edge or flashing text. This could even be commands for viewers to stop.

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Some viewers will use their stance, hands, or even text to stop people from scrolling and watch their reels. Strobe light effects and powerful music can be used to keep people watching once they click.

Up Your Transition’s Game

Transitions are a very important part of video editing, and you will need to learn how to master them if you want to create engaging videos. Even if videos are only 15 seconds long, people have very short attention spans nowadays. Something as simple as a cut to help reposition yourself or use a different angle will cause the eye to jump a little. This will cause them to focus on the video and keep them engaged.

Instagram reels can be a great tool and should be part of your social media strategy if it isn’t already. Make sure that you look into it today, and start learning how to use its many features to benefit your brand.