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An uncertain future for TikTok has encouraged more creators and advertisers to switch platform to Instagram Reels. After being accused of copying TikTok’s product, Instagram’s product director, Robby Stein, said that while TikTok popularised the short video format, the two products are different.

“I think TikTok deserves a ton of credit for popularising formats in this space, and it’s just great work,” Stein told The Verge. “But at the end of the day, no two products are exactly alike, and ours are not either.”

What’s different about Reels?

Instagram Reels bridges the gap between IGTV, which is a more series-based video format, and Stories, which only last for 24 hours. In the latest update for Instagram, Reels has replaced the Explore page and is now positioned in the centre of the icon bar, designed with entertainment as a primary focus. Introducing a place for creators to find new followers or potentially go viral, the new layout really gives them space to take centre stage.

“We’re going big with entertainment and [making Explore] the permanent place for you to go lean back, relax, and be inspired every day,” Stein said. “It’s our hope that with this format we have a new chapter of entertainment on Instagram.”

Reels allows users to create short form video content in 9:16 portrait mode, they can be filmed directly within the app or uploaded from your camera roll. Between 3-30 seconds in length, these multi-clip videos with audio, text, effects and stickers can then be shared to a user’s followers or the wider Instagram community.

How can businesses take advantage of this?

With Reels now having its own Explore page, there is a new potential for Instagram users who haven’t interacted with you previously to see your content. Brands can use this format to reach new audiences either through their own channels or by collaborating with influencers. Instagram already supports creators and influencers to earn revenue through brand deals and sponsored posts. See below for an example of Revolution creating an advertisement directly for Reels and an influencer promoting LullaBellz on their personal account.

‘Meet the staff’ and ‘A day in the life of’ videos have proven to work well, showing an unseen side to a company’s culture and ethos. Similarly, behind-the-scenes can showcase what your company is currently working on. To show off a specific skill or demonstrate how something works, a step by step Reel would work well as a quick tutorial, with hyperlapses becoming a popular trend for audiences to learn.

Key points for businesses to keep in mind:

  • Most people watching Reels are unlikely to read a caption, so if you have a key point or a call to action (CTA), make sure it’s either included in the audio or as a text overlay so that the viewer doesn’t miss it.
  • Even though you can still use up to 2,200 characters and 30 hashtags, just as you would in a regular feed post on Instagram, viewers only see one line of preview before having to click the ‘more’ option to view the whole caption.
  • You can’t edit a caption after the video’s been uploaded, if you did need to change the caption, you would have to delete and re-upload the clip.
  • As of yet, there are no insights available for Instagram Reels. Your total view counts can be seen on the thumbnail, but there’s no data for likes, comments, followers, clicks or other metrics.

With videos being a consumers’ favourite type of content to see from a brand on social media, Instagram Reels can work well if you really want to stand out. By focusing on creating unique, entertaining content within your brand style and tone of voice, they can be an effective tool that you can use to lead consumers through your funnel.

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