After almost a year of testing this feature in a small number of countries, Instagram finally launched Reels: a new way to create fun and engaging video content.
Similar to TikTok, Reels lets you create short-form videos with music that can be shared with friends and followers and discovered while browsing the app.
What is Reels?
At first glance, Reels looks very similar to TikTok. The user interface is almost the same, and the way you flip through videos feels identical too (you swipe up for the next video). However, Instagram Reels it’s not an app on its own. It’s actually a feature that lives inside Instagram.
With Reels, you have a ton of editing tools to create and publish creative short-form videos. Using it feels natural and intuitive because it builds on Instagram functionalities that people already know how to use.
Is it really a TikTok clone?
Instagram’s main goal is to create easy-to-use technology for whoever wants to make a video on their platform. If Stories’ main focus is social, Reel’s is entertainment.
A spokesperson for Instagram said, “We’ve also seen the rise of short-form video on Instagram, and think we can create something in a way that makes sense for our community,” adding, “no two services are the same.”
On the other hand, some people commented that they feel like having Reels, Stories, and IGTV in the same app is making Instagram feel confusing and bloated. They might have a point.
The timing of the launch might also be considered particular given TikTok’s uncertain future in the U.S. as the government is considering either banning the app or forcing it to sell off its U.S. operations. Let’s not forget that this would not be TikTok’s first international ban, as the Indian government pulled the plug on the app earlier this year. In response, TikTok has launched a new website to push back those claims.
To start creating Instagram Reels you just have to open the Instagram app on your phone, and swipe right to access the camera section. Then, tap on “Reels” at the bottom of the screen and start recording.
Some of the cool features you can play with here are:
- Record several short clips up to 15 seconds.
- Change the speed of the video ranging from 0.3x to 3x.
- Trimming your clip.
- Add music or use the audio of someone else’s Reel to create your own video.
- Apply filters and other AR effects.
- Add stickers, GIFs, and text.
You can push Reels almost everywhere inside the platform, including Stories, as a direct message, your feed, and even be discovered by the huge diverse Instagram community on the Explore section.
How can brands use Reels in their marketing strategy?
Instagram Reels is a new way to expand your community and grow your reach on Instagram.
The situation is very similar to what happens on TikTok vs other platforms: viewers will expect different content in this new section, so what might have worked for you on Stories or your Feed, surely won’t translate to Reels.
Here are five quick tips to start generating content for your brand on Reels:
- Educational content: Showcase your expertise around your product, service, or industry. Bear in mind that these videos are 15 seconds long, so it forces you to focus on only one key idea each.
- Product reviews: Keep it simple. A light-hearted video that shows off your products will come across more authentic than if your business tries creating a viral meme and fails.
- Create your own challenges: Get your followers to create Reels for you! You can use Olapic’s content uploader to then activate this on your widgets!
- Influencer content: Find creators who work within your niche and whose personalities align with your brand’s values.
- Behind the scenes-content: Behind-the-scenes content builds the relationship between you and your customers. Show them your design process, how your products are made, etc. This humanizes your brand and creates a different connection with your audience.
Although we all know that Instagram is regularly exploring new forms of monetization, Reels will not include ads at launch. Probably some of the formats that they’ll be adding in the next couple of months will be similar to the ones we can find today in Stories: static or dynamic ads between videos with something similar to the “swipe up” call to action. We’ll have to wait and see.
Since this is a new feature similar to IGTV, we currently cannot collect Reels because it’s not supported by their media endpoint yet. However, we’re still working on different ways to collect and activate user-generated content through your customer touchpoints.
Is there a secret to go viral on Reels?
There is no secret formula to achieve success on Instagram Reels, but by following these tips – combined with a creative content strategy- you will definitely make a great impression with platform users.
Here is where Olapic’s Short-Form Video team can help you shine. Keep in mind that our SFV solution is not only about producing videos, it is also about generating concepts and design ideas that work with your brand and your audience, generating assets that allow you to test them efficiently and increase the opportunity for consumers to engage with your brand.
So, does Instagram Reels make a little more sense to you now? It is still early to know if it takes off, but you should always make sure your brand is staying ahead of the rest and keeping your marketing strategy as adaptable as possible to the newest trends and consumer behaviors.