Remember when Instagram launched Stories? Most of us were slow to adapt. At the time, it seemed like just another thing to keep up with. It felt like more work.
When Stories launched in 2016, there were just over 150 million active users. Today there are half a billion people who use Stories every single day. And those who really learned the platform in those early days were rewarded by Instagram and tallied a large number of new followers which eventually led to growth, partnerships, and more.
There’s no time like the present when it comes to Reels. Let’s break down why it’s important to dive in now rather than later:
Less Competition - right now there is very little competition on the platform which means your content has a much higher visibility rate.
Trial & Error - start learning what works and what doesn’t before everyone else gets the hang of things.
Find and Hone Your Ideas - Whether it's educational, relatable, or insightful, hone in on your ideas before posting to add some form to your function.
Master Time Constraints - Reels now allows users to record up to 60 seconds worth of video. Start learning how to bring your content to life in less than a minute.
Study Your Analytics - Although Reels analytics remains fairly simplistic at the moment (tallies view counts, likes, and comments), that’s likely to change in the near future. Even still, start studying who’s watching your content and what performs best.
Although Instagram Reels may very well replace TikTok when it's all said and done, there's no better place to learn what works for these short term videos than ByteDance-owned company.
The best TikTok creators gained followers and went viral because of their originality. Creating authentic content is the only way to engage viewers, entice partners, and generate reshares. Authenticity should be the cornerstone of any content you create for Reels.
Karen X ( @karenxcheng on IG) is one of the most innovative new Reels users on Instagram. She's creating full-blown movies with her content and telling compelling end-to-end stories. The mix of storytelling and technology makes her content a cut above.
Entertainment is at its best when driven by passion. Take what you know best and turn it into something your audience will love!
Whether you’re a dancer, singer, artist, or comedian, the things that you love is what will expand your profile on Reels. Your expertise is valuable. Cash in on it by giving your audience content surrounding what you love or what you do best.
Nadia Caterina Munno–also known as @the_pastaqueen–is already creating viral content by showcasing her culinary talents. Whipping up delectable dishes and offering easy-to-follow recipes, Munno’s content offers an extremely high value proposition; watch her videos, and maybe you learn how to cook a new dish. Because let’s be honest, we’ve all been cooking the same three meals aloof quarantine. Munno’s passion is in line with our needs, and it’s helping The Pasta Queen grow her brand.
One big differentiator between TikTok and Reels is that users can optimize all of the tools and features available on Instagram. And AR filters should undoubtedly be top of your list.
While you’ll certainly want to become very familiar with the Align Tool and the Timer, AR Filters should be an anchor to your content. They provide a playful and whimsical theme to your videos and can make that 15-second clip so much more engaging.
Moreover, VFX effects are growing very popular on Reels in its first few weeks. Something that made content on TikTok surge, these visual effects are a look into the future of content creation. Romaine Reid, aka @romainereid_ shows you exactly how to use VFX in one of his latest Reels. It’s innovative, fun, and most of all, makes you want to see more!
Although there isn’t an option to monetize or use branded content tools on Reels at this time, that doesn’t mean you can’t showcase the products that you love!
This is your opportunity to bring awareness to your favorite products from the brands that you love or the brands you hope to build a relationship with. Instagram is really pushing Reels content at the moment, so acting now will likely get good content in front of more eyes than any other time in the future. Which could result in the brand success you’re hoping for.
Fitness and fashion model Jen Selter is already using Reels to showcase her signature athleisure style while previewing how other creators can present new or existing products. You’ll also want to use hashtags to enhance your discovery.
Whether it's a song, a viral challenge, or a thriving hashtag, getting the most eyes on your Reels content will certainly depend on how well you ride the wave of what's trending.
As we've seen on Instagram in the past, hashtag themes and challenges have significantly helped brands and creators connect with a large online community and grow as a result. So while it's critical to strategy content output, it's equally as important to be reactive to emerging trends.
Leslie Jordan has created his own trend throughout quarantine with his hilarious "what're y'all doing?" introductions to his daily video check-ins. And to welcome Reels with open arms, he created a song to add even more fuel to the trend he created.
Users come to social media for many reasons. Among them are inspiration and education. So if you can teach your followers a thing or two with your content, you make yourself a very valuable asset.
Show users a couple of different ways to wear an outfit, show them how you create a piece of art from start to finish or give them a tutorial on how to edit a photo. For 18-year old chef Eitan Bernath, it’s showing his viewers a quick and easy way to make fresh bruschetta.
You’ll notice Eitan adds a call to action to view the full recipe on his website and also adds relevant hashtags.
Although Instagram hasn’t revealed how its algorithm supports its budding feature, the company has mentioned on its @Creators account that framing your ideas from beginning to end is a value trait to maximizing the reach of Reels content.
Think about writing a script for your videos so you know how each clip should flow. Even though Reels are extremely short, they require a beginning, middle, and end. A story must exist within those 15 seconds. And yes, you want it scored to music with editing transitions and effects.
Model and internet personality Parker Kit Hill (or @parkerkithill on Instagram) is already making waves with Reels with unique and captivating content. His Reels are very much his own and unlike anything else right now. Try to tap into what that means for you and run with it!
Learning from the competition is just as important as learning from your own analytics. See what’s working, try to understand why it’s working, and don’t copy, but take those lessons and apply them in a way that’s authentic to you or your brand.
If the success of Instagram Stories is any indication, Reels is the next big thing. Connecting with a new audience through Reels by implementing a marketing strategy is a valuable investment in your brand’s future.
Speaking of the future, Reels is only just getting started. Although we don’t know this for sure, we can speculate that branded tools will soon be available alongside other IG staples like the swipe-up feature and shoppable stickers. Soon, Reels will be a highly monetizable tool that could help you and your brand explode. Will you be ready when those opportunities arrive?