“What is Instagram Reels?” Reel in new customers with the help of the platform’s latest feature.

Danil Salukov
Danil Salukov
CEO & Co-Founder at Insense

The short-form video format has been around for almost a decade now, at least since Vine first emerged on the social media scene in the early 2010s, but while it may not be the newest, it’s unquestionably the most relevant one today. Nearly dormant for a couple of years after Vine’s unfortunate demise, it came back with a vengeance when TikTok suddenly blew up and became the social media platform of choice, first for Gen Z and then for everyone else.

Fueled by an influx of new users during the 2020 lockdowns, TikTok has reigned supreme, fighting off an occasional government ban here and there, but now it got other big social media players on its heels. And no one is a bigger player than Facebook and its massive photo/video sharing platform – Instagram.

In August 2020, Instagram announced Instagram Reels: “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram”. With a suite of various creative tools offered by the platform, users can now stitch together 15-second videos, customizing music, text, and effects. Moreover, they can make their reels available to the wider community using a new space in Explore, giving everyone an opportunity for that lucky break that every social media creator dreams of.

If you’ve ever been on TikTok, then all of it may sound quite familiar. However, Instagram doesn’t shy away from comparisons to its young competitor – the company embraces the challenge, supplying a service that is in strong demand even with other platforms around. As per Instagram Director of Product Tessa Lyons-Laing: “We see Reels as us responding to what the community has already been doing, already been asking for”.

Okay, so how exactly Instagram Reels videos are different from TikTok?

As both services are essentially providing its users with toolkits for creating, editing, and sharing short clips, it’s only natural to compare them to try and take the stock of all the pros and cons.

There are some minor differences, like the video length (Instagram Reels are limited at 15 seconds, while TikToks go up to one minute) and certain intricacies of music licensing and sound sync. Then there’s of course the dark cloud of controversy surrounding TikTok and the “will they, won’t they” chatter around its possible ban in the US that could all of a sudden propel Instagram Reels into the spotlight, but we won’t get too deep into that.

The biggest point of distinction though? TikTok is a standalone service, while Instagram Reels is a new feature of an already extensive ecosystem. Will the integration with the baseline features be enough to bring the ardent TikTokers into the Instagram fold? Only time will tell, but it’s certainly a major advantage for the Facebook-owned platform.

phone taking picture of group of drummers

Wait, don’t we have Stories already?

Stories and Reels are two features that can be used both separately and in tandem. In fact, your Reels can be shared to Stories and posted in your feed. But with Reels you also have the opportunity to share them with the whole wide world in Explore, giving you an enormous reach! Not to mention that the editing tools for Reels are much more sophisticated: speed controls and filters, multiple transitions, and a variety of effects. Stories are still great to capture more down-to-earth day-to-day stuff, but Reels truly allow you to unleash your creativity.

kids staring at candle and dog sitting near a christmas tree

And how do I use Instagram Reels for business?

Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using Instagram Reels:

  • It’s brand new. While the format might’ve been around for a while, Instagram Reels is a shiny new feature that will attract users to it, even if out of simple curiosity. And, as with any innovation in social media, early adopters will be in the position to reap the greatest benefits from Instagram Reels.
  • It has an audience. There’s a strong demand for easily digestible content out there and Reels can become a virtual goldmine of successful collaborations with short-form creators. And users love to engage with short-form content, showering it with likes, comments, shares, and sometimes even video responses in the same format.
  • It brings out creativity. With all of its wonderful creative tools, Reels is a perfect laboratory for creators to experiment in and go crazy.
  • It exposes you to potential followers. Instagram’s Explore page is no joke – it’s used by over 50% of accounts to discover photos and videos related to their interests! And with Reels being so Explore-oriented, the discoverability of your content will skyrocket. Not to mention the fact that Instagram personalizes the video selection for everyone, so your content will appear on the tabs of those users who already have an interest in a similar product or brand.

With all of that in mind, what are some of the ways you can use Instagram Reels?

  1. Showcase your products. Reels location on the Explore page makes them perfectly suited for the introduction of new customers to your brand. Put your product on display and demonstrate all the different ways it can be used and enjoyed. Sprinkle your Reels with relevant hashtags and descriptive captions for them to pop up in the recommendations of your potential audience.
  2. Take a peek behind the scenes. If there’s one thing everyone wants to know, it’s “how the sausage gets made”. People love a sneak peek behind closed doors. You can use this as an opportunity to show your customers who you are, how you operate, and what are your values.
  3. Create educational content. No, there’s no need to take out the blackboard and bring your audience back to school, but all those “Top 5 Best Recipes for X” and makeup tutorials are insanely popular for a reason. People increasingly come to social media for peer-to-peer education. Instagram Reels is a great format to demonstrate your expertise simultaneously conveying your knowledge of your niche, attracting more people to your brand and product.
  4. Unearth your buried TikToks. If you have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon on time, by now you’ve probably accumulated an extensive library of short clips on your account. And now all those TikToks have a chance for a second life on Instagram Reels. Let the great content you’ve created speak for itself on a new platform! But, of course, be mindful of what you’re putting out there – you don’t want to appear uncool by reproducing a once-viral dated challenge from a few months back.

But how do I produce all this varied content by myself?

Here’s the good news for you: you don’t have to. Being a successful creator on social media is a full-time job that involves honing and perfecting your craft. Thousands of skilled creators who can become your trusted partners and produce troves of content for your social media are out there. Reaching them has never been easier than with Insense, a platform that optimizes working with creators on any level. In just a few clicks it can connect you with a network of over 35,000 proven creators and influencers who are producing top-notch content in all kinds of formats, including (but not limited to) Instagram Reels. Insense creators are always at the forefront of any new trend in social media and the new Instagram feature is no exception. Check out the website and start transforming your online marketing with the help of our community of social media experts.

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Danil Salukov

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