Instagram has been around for more than a decade and it continues to be one of the most relevant platforms. The key to its resilience is the ability to adapt to the wants of its users, and when short form video platforms demonstrated the power of that content, Instagram leapt on the opportunity and launched Reels, allowing its users to create 15-second videos.
Instagram Reels are not exactly new and yet many businesses are still not making the most of them. Companies need to reach out to their customers where they already are, rather than attempting to pull them to where they want them to be. With one billion active users on Instagram, everyone can have a healthy share of followers if you create content that followers love.
Even high-end design houses have taken advantage of Instagram Reels. It has given today’s luxury fashion brands an opportunity to show a different side of their brand personality; they’ve effectively moved away from impersonal and aspirational-only advertising to become more approachable. And it’s not just the designer brands cashing in: UK online retailer ASOS has a strong following on Instagram and when they added content to their Reels, they gained 4.4. million views in just a few days. Nike is just one of many brands that are taking advantage of Instagram stories. Twenty of the NBA’s thirty teams use Instagram reels and there are numerous other success stories from businesses like Apple, Sephora and NatGeo to name a few. The majority of these companies have average view counts of well over 3 million, demonstrating that Instagram reels are undoubtedly popular.
A Brief History of Reels
Even though Reels were launched less than 2 years ago, the history is worth looking into. Back in 2016, following the popularity of Snapchat, Instagram launched Stories which is probably one of the most admired features of the platform. As numerous data points reveal, Instagram Stories now have a lot of power for companies and businesses. Instagram Reels, like Instagram Stories, had a slow start but since have garnered a lot of interest on the platform.
Reels were a result of the domino effect caused by the popularity of short-form content on TikTok as well as Snapchat and others. Although they were originally started in 2019 in Brazil, it wasn’t until August 2020 that Instagram launched Reels across the world. Initially, Reels were called Cenas, which means scenes in Portuguese, to appeal to their test audience in Brazil. Instagram gets approximately 57 million active users from Brazil and has a 27% penetration rate. The test run was successful as it led to a 4.38% increase in users in Brazil. This encouraged Facebook to expand Instagram Reels into different countries. After making extensive updates to the feature on 24th June 2020, Reels were launched in France and Germany. After receiving positive feedback, on 20th August 2020, Reels were finally launched in 50 countries across the world. Because the feature was projected to be so popular, Instagram introduced a Reels tab to the app’s main layout. Users can see a stream of Reels that have been hand-picked for them based on their interactions with the platform’s content when they click on the icon.
What makes Reels so Popular?
The question that everyone has on their mind is why short-form content like Reels gaining so much popularity. Well, the simplest answer is because they are short. The goal of a short-form video is to help your audience recognise and indulge in your brand or service without exhausting their time. They require less time to be consumed (today’s young people have average attention spans of just 12 seconds or less); they can entertain you when you are in a café waiting to meet someone or something to dip into during a quick break. (Although be warned: your 10-minute break could accidentally extend to an hour because Reels can be pretty addictive). Another reason could be the time when they were introduced. 2020 saw the pandemic force the whole world into isolation and the one thing that united us all was social media. Short-form video content (be it TikTok, Instagram Reels, or YouTube Shorts) peaked across all social media channels at this time. Users also had the time to give creating their own content a go as a 15 second video doesn’t need to be so polished and professional.
How to Reign in the Reel Kingdom
I hate the “how to go viral?” question because there is no guide or steps that guarantee success – it’s not a formula, it’s a vision. What’s more, the definition of viral keeps changing. Today, something can be all over your feed but tomorrow it might get cancelled. Hence, going viral is not a formula but part of consistently creating meaningful content that audiences want to engage with. Although, making good content depends upon a lot of factors. You need to put together a very strong content strategy and look at what your audience is looking for and what they care about. For businesses, it is all about highlighting unique selling points and making a statement on the value you provide to your users. A little bit of a reactive process with a stringent social media strategy goes a long way. If you want to capitalise on what is trending you should look for your brand’s angle to that trend. Responding to what is going viral is not easy, but having an efficient content creation process and the flexibility to react is going to help you most. Ultimately, you don’t need millions of followers to get engagement. In reality, you only need truly engaged followers who actually care about you.
Are you facing difficulty building an engaged community online? Book a free consultation with me today.
All Hail Short Form Content
It is not as much about Reels but the concept of short-form content which is appealing to the audience. With each platform coming with its own version of short-form content the difficult question that arises is which platform should marketers target?
Each platform comes with its own audience. So, when we talk about TikTok, it comes with an energy that is disruptive in nature, probably because it is most popular amongst teenagers. This is exactly what many companies are looking for; a disruptive bandwagon on which they can hop. If you are a start-up, it makes sense for you to be on TikTok. But don’t be fooled into thinking TikTok is just for a younger audience. It has quickly built a multi-generational following as the content on there is vast and broad, ensuring people from 17 to 70 can have a unique and engaging experience on the platform. Your audience is there, no matter the demographics.
YouTube is the biggest social media platform in the world and is a huge channel that is also connected to Google. Breaking out on YouTube might seem a little difficult but this platform offers a vast opportunity to expand your content into something more purposeful. On YouTube, you can share videos of all lengths and kinds, while TikTok is exclusively for sharing very short videos.
So where do businesses go when they want to showcase all of these aspects of their brand on a single platform? Well, that is where Instagram fits the equation perfectly. Reels has pushed Instagram from a traditional photo-sharing platform to a video creation platform where you can share photos as well. It is an optimal platform for people in their 20s-30s, and Reels are going to get you more engagement as well as playing on the right side of the algorithm. Instagram is almost like a catalogue where you can express your brand’s identity in different forms such as images, videos, stories, and reels. Furthermore, the unlimited possibilities of engaging with your potential customers is a perfect ecosystem where a business can generate leads.
The Future of Short from Content
Short Form Video is not going to go away anytime soon. This kind of content resolves the need for quick answers to problems. For example, someone looks up how to prepare for a storm – a situation that needs a quick and practical answer. At a time like this, a person might not have the time to skim through a 10-minute-long video to get the information they need or read lengthy articles. As a professional in a field, if someone can give you practical advice or solutions in under a minute that they spent years learning, the value of that is enormous. Early on in my career, these features were not available, and I know they would have been hugely valuable for me so the benefits will be felt for brands for many years to come.
Short Form video is not going to take away anything from what long-form content provides because it is like comparing apples and oranges. Both solve different problems, for a person looking to become professional standard with Adobe Premiere Pro vs that same person trying to find how to clip a specific scene within a video. Both forms of content are going to co-exist peacefully.