Since its inception, Instagram has stood out with its polished images and easy navigation. The platform is known for its visual appeal, in which careful posing and filters add to the allure.
Over time, however, Instagram has taken on many of the characteristics of its rivals. Stories, for example, provide a disappearing, laid-back alternative to standard images, akin to Snapchat. Now, another new feature has arrived: Reels, which look suspiciously like social media phenomenon TikTok.
To the uninitiated, Instagram’s Reels may look a lot like the Stories feature. Both allow users to share brief video clips that appear more casual than typical Instagram posts. The similarities end there, however. Reels provide a variety of advantages above and beyond Stories, as you’ll realize upon exploring this exciting new feature. Already favored by Instagram influencers, this option could pave the way to your next big social media success.
Instagram’s Reels offer a variety of opportunities for connecting in a lighthearted, humorous manner. This makes it an excellent opportunity for brands looking to build more genuine relationships with followers. Still, not all businesses are convinced that it’s worth exploring when so many consumers are so invested in TikTok.
Keep reading to gain a better sense of the hype surrounding today’s top short-form video platforms — and your options for using them to appeal to consumers.
How Instagram’s Reels Work
At first glance, Instagram’s Reels clearly resembles TikTok. Both emphasize brief video clips, and, more importantly, encourage creative content. With TikTok, this often takes the form of catchy dance challenges. While these can be just as prominent on Instagram Reels, augmented reality features and other editing tools bring a whole new element of fun and inspiration to the process.
Reels can be shared with both private followers and on a public basis through Explore. Captions, hashtags, and even cover images can be added as desired. Once completed, Reels remain on a special tab, where followers can easily find and browse them. They’re versatile and can be shared in Stories, private messages, or with close friends.
How to Use Instagram Reels for Marketing
If you’re already familiar with Instagram marketing, adopting Reels should be straightforward. Head to the “new post” section as you ordinarily would when sharing an image or adding to your Stories. You’ll spot Reels between the Story and Live options. Hold the record button for up to 15 seconds as you would when creating Stories.
An icon featuring music notes allows you to search within Instagram’s collection and add audio to your clip. Additional icons help you speed up your video or include filters and other fun effects.
Keep in mind that, unlike standard Instagram content or Stories, Reels cannot be uploaded or viewed on desktop computers. As such, this strategy is best reserved for mobile-oriented campaigns.
Other than this limitation, the versatility of Reels makes it an excellent option for modern marketing. These videos can be used for targeted purposes in private messages and with close friends, but most businesses share them via Explore. There, Reels are open to the general public and can be used to get involved with the platform’s latest trends.
The goal with Reels, as with TikTok marketing, should be to subtly promote your brand while primarily focusing on entertainment value and, to a lesser degree, information. Strive to provide a valuable experience, and you’ll be rewarded with a rapidly growing and increasingly engaged following.
Should Reels Complement or Replace TikTok?
Reels and TikTok need not be an either-or proposition. Still, it’s possible to spread yourself too thin by attempting to post a wide variety of content on several different platforms. If you need to streamline your approach, it may be worth your while to ditch TikTok now that Reels is available. In other cases, it’s better to continue with TIkTok as you wait to see how Reels will pan out.
Keep these considerations in mind as you determine how far to go with your short-form video marketing efforts:
The appeal of Reels over TikTok is simple: Instagram’s take on this video style is far more versatile. As explained above, videos produced via Reels can be as public or as private as you wish. They can be integrated within existing Instagram campaigns to create a cohesive effect. This makes it easier to plan engaging marketing initiatives that center around a specific theme.
When choosing preferred platforms, you’ll want to take a close look at your target audience. While Instagram’s users tend to skew young, this is even more true of TikTok. If your core audience largely consists of Gen Z consumers, your failure to establish a presence on TikTok could prove a real social media liability. If, however, you have little need to appeal to customers under 25, researching and implementing TikTok campaigns might not be worth the effort.
While video content on Instagram Reels is bound to evolve, it currently involves quite a bit of repurposed material that first stood out on TikTok. If you’ve made an effort to establish your brand as trend-oriented, you can take advantage of this by keeping up on TikTok to grasp new ideas before they make the shift to Reels. Think of TikTok as providing a test run for the types of trend-oriented content that work or don’t work. If a specific type of video is clearly a flop on TikTok, it might not be worth using on Instagram.
If you’re not particularly worried about being ahead of the curve on social media, you can streamline your efforts to focus on videos that reflect your brand’s core message. While trends certainly play a role in Instagram success, they aren’t currently as vital to the platform as they are on TikTok.
Existing Social Media Setup
For many businesses, the ideal video marketing strategy comes down to current social media strengths. If you boast a committed following on TikTok, there’s no reason to change course just yet — especially as Reels has yet to establish itself as a truly viable contender for TikTok’s current video-sharing throne. On the other hand, if you’re not yet a force on TikTok but you’re proud of your Instagram success, you’ll love all that the Reels feature adds to your campaign.
Ready to Give Reels a Try?
With so many options available for modern social media marketing, the tricky part is not finding creative ways to engage with customers, but rather, narrowing down your choices to select the approach that delivers the best return on investment. Play your cards right, and your video marketing efforts could deliver the next viral sensation. If nothing else, you’ll be able to interact with clients in a creative and highly memorable manner.
Are you ready to amp up your social media marketing efforts with new platforms or features? At Vinci Digital, we’re on the cutting-edge of the social media world — so we know exactly what it takes to appeal to today’s digital consumers. Contact us to learn more about our marketing services or to request a quote.
PS: Here is our behind the scenes footage of creating our first Reels! Follow us on Instagram @VinciDigitalMarketing
PPS: What is your preferred social media platform for digital marketing? Are you all about Instagram — or do you enjoy experimenting with TikTok? Feel free to leave a comment to let us know your thoughts!