So Instagram has launched a new product called Instagram Reels and it’s built right into the Instagram app. The all-new Instagram Reels is simply a short video anywhere from 3 to 15 seconds. And Reels live in a separate tab in your profile just like Instagram TV videos (IGTV).
If you’re familiar with TikTok, you’ll feel right at home with Instagram Reels. If not, you can think of Reels as an attempt by Instagram to maintain dominance in the social video landscape.
Today we’re going to walk you through the new Instagram Reels, show you how to use it and explain why people are calling it Instagram’s answer to TikTok. Also, if you’re looking to market your brand through Instagram, Reels can become your next go-to option as you can employ it in your marketing strategy as well.
So let’s get into the article to get a clear picture.
What Is Instagram Reels?
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve come across the brand new Instagram Reels in your feed and you’re pretty confused as to what exactly it is and how to use it.
This Facebook’s fresh TikTok competitor allows its users to create fun and informal videos that you can access from the app’s Stories area. The concept is similar to TikTok’s. So if you’ve used TikTok before, making videos using Instagram Reels shouldn’t be difficult. The maximum time limit of a Reels video is 15 seconds. You can add your music to the video or choose from Instagram’s huge music library. Another fun part is that there are built-in primary edit options that you can use to edit your videos, add effects or stickers to them and share them with your stories.
But that’s not the end of it. If you’re familiar with TikTok’s ‘For You’ page, there’s one for Reels as well. Instagram has added a new Reels Explore Feed. Just like your IGTV section, now you can go to the Reels Explore Feed page and you will be greeted with a gigantic Reels section. It’s like if you tap on the Explore page, you can literally explore other people’s Instagram Reels.
The brand new Reels rolled out on August 5. It is now available in the US along with 50 other countries. Instagram tweeted about the global launch of Facebook’s TikTok rival which comes in the second quarter of 2020 right after TikTok became the most used app in the first quarter, 2020 in the US.
You will also be able to check out Reels videos of popular accounts or trending ones and not only the ones shared by the accounts you follow. This gives Reels users a wider reach. You can tap it to scroll endlessly through Reels and discover new creators. However, the complete algorithm of how Reels is going to function is not fixed yet.
But one thing is for sure: it’s quite similar to TikTok’s For You page. Reels, most likely, take into account the people you already follow, or the type of content you create or interact with plus your location. It sets up your Reels Explore Feed after considering these factors. So it already knows your audience, likes, and niche. If you think about it, it makes Instagram marketing strategy a lot easier than before. That, I guess is your added benefit in case of the Instagram Reels.
Now, when you’re scrolling through your Reels Explore Feed, you may come across Reels with a “Featured” label on top of the caption. What is this “Featured” label? Instagram tells us that “Featured” reels are a selection of Reels videos which are chosen by Instagram to feature in all user profiles. Featured Reels are there for you to come across original content that is engaging, entertaining and, inspiring. You’ll receive a notification if any of your Reels get “Featured”.
When you’re making your Reel, you go to the Stories section and make your short video. Later you can garnish it with the music of your choice by clicking on “Use Audio.” Apart from this, you also have your handy video-editing tools. Although they are quite basic, you can adjust your Reel speed, choose an effect, add stickers, draw or add text to the video clip.
A Few Limitations
As it stands today, there are still some notable limitations. You can’t duet videos, the editing is pretty sub-par, there’s no progress bar on the bottom line as you find on TikTok, videos are limited to 15 seconds, you can’t download reels, and the list goes on. But Instagram Reels is here to go big. So it’s a matter of time before Instagram updates it to add new features to this brand new video format. So don’t worry if the implementation seems a little half-baked right now.
Why is Instagram launching Reels?
Hellooooo, Reels 🙌
Introducing a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.
Reels is rolling out today to more than 50 countries around the world.
— Instagram (@instagram) August 5, 2020
Instagram has launched Reels and it is Facebook’s answer to TikTok. Is this a viable question? Well, it’s a tricky question but odds say it is. The thing to look out for now is whether TikTok users are willing to move from one platform and resettle on another like Instagram even though it’s true that Instagram has a much larger base. Essentially, both are almost identical products. Recent sources also suggest that it’s not only us asking this question; Mark Zuckerberg too, has to face the same question in many hearings.
Nonetheless, TikTok is wildly popular. It has 2 billion downloads from across the globe which is also a record figure of the most downloads from any app ever. Its US user base stands as high as 80 million users.
No wonder, Instagram is trying to replicate its popular features and trying to win back its dominance and popularity especially in countries where TikTok suffered a blow. Instagram started testing Reels with several users from Brazil way back in November. It’s known that Brazil has not been a major market for TikTok. Instagram’s Reels will also come as a welcome relief to the countries like India which recently banned new downloads of TikTok.
Several companies have come up with apps similar to TikTok but none has been able to stand up in front of their rival giant. But here comes Instagram reels. It looks like Facebook is supporting Reels with all its weight and it’ll surely be a success considering Instagram’s popularity alone.
Why is Instagram Reels such a big deal?
TikTok became a social media staple in a very short time. It captured audiences from all over the globe and in no time TikTok became a Gen-Z rage. It attracted a wide user base who were all making and sharing TikTok videos. Its short-time video format became viral because it brought a new video platter to hungry audiences. Using TikTok, there’s nothing you can’t do. Starting from lip-sync to dancing, comedic clips, skits, and sharing hot takes, it almost became a social media hub outshining many Tech giants and their US-based apps like Facebook and Instagram.
TikTok also features trending challenges where people take part vigorously. It became a Gen-Z go-to place. With all these accolades to its name, it’s not surprising that others want to launch something similar to TikTok. But interestingly, Instagram Reels is not the first attempt to take away the TikTok crown. Before this, Facebook had launched another app namely “Lasso.” But this competition was a failure. Lasso didn’t last long. It was launched back in November 2018. But it didn’t gain the necessary traction to overpower TikTok.
Lasso had around 600,000 downloads, according to reports. It was not Facebook expected. So it was taken down on July 10. The tech giant is now working through Instagram to work its way up the short-video ladder. Going by the popularity of Instagram among the younger crowd, Instagram Reels has a good shot at being the next TikTok.
Facebook is going for familiar habits here. Before the Instagram Reels scene, Facebook also came into focus co-opting Snapchat’s Stories feature and bringing it on Instagram. The stories feature gained more popularity on Instagram, true, but it was a replication of the Snapchat feature nonetheless. A weird pattern is prevalent in both these actions. So it’s not that hard to imagine Instagram Reels dominating the market in no time.
Another interesting factor is that TikTok’s user base is gradually shifting from Generation Z users to the Millennials. Recent US data shows that there was a 5% increase in TikTok users between the age bracket of 25 to 34. Whereas there is almost a 6% dip in users from the age group of 18 to 24. This is opening up arenas for new statistical analysis. Instagram Reels is up and running to capture exactly this changed demographic structure. If it succeeds, Reels will be a much more attractive offer for marketers and advertisers. The added advantage for Instagram Reels is its prime positioning within the app itself. Therefore, users are more familiar with Instagram’s short video format. It also targets those users who are not on TikTok yet but on Instagram. They are likely to go for Reels than install another app to make short-video clips.
Some of you may even ask: Instagram has IGTV, so what’s the need for Reels?
IGTV may be a popular destination for Instagram users but with its series based content users can stream into episodes of their favorite brands or accounts they follow. It has mostly remained a formal section of Instagram with comparatively longish high-quality videos and educational content. Instagram Reels fills in the gaps. It’s a short-video format with clips not extending 15 seconds, a longer shelf-life than Instagram Stories and, an informal touch. It’s more creative in its content and has an opportunity to reach a wider user base.
How To Create Reels?
Here’s how it works. To access Reels, you have to make sure that your Instagram app is up to date. Then open the Stories camera and you’ll notice a difference. The interface has been simplified a little. There are now three choices on the bottom. You’ve got Live, Stories and Reels.
Earlier this bottom section used to contain other things like Create, Boomerang, Super Zoom and, Hands-free. But now all of these live under the Stories Section.
Now, when you select Reels, you’ll notice a few controls on the left side of your screen. There are four actions to be exact. The first is ‘Audio’ which lets you select a song from the Instagram catalog of music choices. Next is ‘Speed’ which controls how fast or slow you want to record your Reel video. It ranges from 0.3x to 3x. After this, comes effects which include different filters. You can record one clip using one filter and record another clip using another filter of your choice.
Tip: if you scroll to your right, you can access hundreds of new effects. So, download the one you like if you haven’t already.
Next comes the ‘Timer’. You can select the duration you want a clip to record for. You’ll also get a timer before it starts recording your clip and then it stops automatically to record your clip. Just like TikTok, you can pause and resume numerous times while recording your 15 seconds clip by pressing the record button.
The giant recording button is right in the center and you can zoom after you’ve started recording just by sliding your thumb up and down and the rest of the functions are very similar to other social media cameras. You can also add media from your camera roll. But while TikTok videos can go on till 60 seconds, Instagram Reels can only record for 15 seconds. Hopefully, Instagram will extend the time limit in the app’s next update.
Another tip: If you’re using media from your camera, you can grab your finger across the screen to scrub through the video.
Now comes the next bit. Once you’re done with the recording, you can review it to see if you’re happy with it. Press the back arrow right next to the recording button and then tap through the clips just like you tap through Instagram Stories.
You can use different tools like draw and add text or even select from a range of Instagram stickers to decorate your clip. But you can’t use a poll or a question box like you can in the Instagram Camera. But you can add GIFs or even doodle on your video to make them funny and interesting.
Once you’re done with the editing you’re all set to post your first Reel. Press on the right side arrow to go to the posting screen. Now you add engaging captions to your Instagram Reel or even add a cover using one of the video clips or something from your camera roll. You can post the reel to your feed and also post it as your Instagram Story. Even if it’s on your Instagram Story, you’ll be able to distinguish because of the Reel icon.
This was all about how to create Reels. Now let’s check out why some people are calling Instagram Reels the new marketing strategy.
How To Use Reels To Grow On Instagram
Instagram Reels is your new go-to place if you want to grow on Instagram. You can use this platform to easily grow your community of followers and expand your reach. It’s engaging, it’s creative, it can go viral, and it has a wider reach than other Instagram features, so it’s definitely what you need as your new marketing strategy.
Even though Instagram Reels is brand new, it’s still proving to be ideal for advertisers looking for a potential market in Instagram’s social circle.
Here we’ve laid out some tips for you to follow to receive great responses from this short and effective video marketing strategy.
- Create Authentic Content That Resonates With Your Potential Audience
Reels are supposed to be captivating with its fast-paced content. Studies show that people are more likely to remember the contents of short video clips more than longish ones. This is advantageous. It’s a way brands can interact without making prim and proper videos of their products. They have a chance to interact more with customers, feature on their feeds numerous times so that they remember your brand. You can showcase your human side and interact on a personal basis with your potential customer base.
- Share Educational Content
You can share educational content on Instagram reels and there’s no way you can make it boring on Reels. It’ll be fast and fun. If you make videos giving out styling tips, travel tips, cooking tips and so on, you’ll have a huge following in no time. People dig these ‘how-to’ videos more than anything.
- Showcase Products
This sounds like a full-fledged advertisement. But you can make your product look a lot more fun and present it in a more creative way using Instagram Reels. And the fun part: there’s no limitation. You can add a nice caption describing your product. You can add emojis and doodle and so on to make your product look more appealing to the one who sees it.
Use these techniques and you’ll be big on Instagram. The last tip: Start using Instagram Reels before the competition gets steeper. You’ll have more opportunity to get featured and earn more followers before other competitors make the market difficult for you.