by Brittany McSorley
TikTok is social media’s popular kid right now, and it’s evolving. The platform has been incredibly popular with Gen Z from the beginning, and it’s become a serious social media marketing tool. So it should come as no surprise that Instagram, a platform that appeals to a wider age range, wasted no time in creating its own answer to TikTok: the Reels feature.
According to Hootsuite, “First launched in Brazil in late 2019, Instagram Reels are now available for over 50 other countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan, on both iOS and Android.” And you may have noticed lately that Reels are taking over the Instagram Explore tab. It looks like short, engaging video content is edging out photos with greater speed and agility these days, so if you use Instagram for marketing, it’s time to tweak your strategy accordingly.
You can create a Reel by swiping left on your Instagram feed, the same way you would to add a Story or go live. You can also hit the plus sign button at the top right corner of your profile page, then select the Reel option.
Like a Story, you can film in real time or select a video from your phone’s camera roll. There are two important rules to note:
- The time limit on each Reel is 30 seconds (recently updated from 15)
- And Reels does not support photos. Though you can see your whole camera roll from Reels, you’ll only be able to select videos to upload.
Once you’ve chosen or filmed a short video, you can trim it, add music, and incorporate other effects similar to those found on TikTok. After adding a cover photo (a still frame from the video or a photo from your camera roll), you’re ready to share. Here are a few more important notes:
- When you share a Reel, you should select “Also share to feed.” This prevents the Reel from disappearing after 24 hours like a story, and gives you much better odds for engagement. You also have the option to share each Reel to your profile grid.
- Like a standard Instagram post, it’s crucial to use hashtags to boost engagement and visibility.
- Reels that make use of music, especially music from Instagram’s own audio library, tend to perform better. However, some business accounts don’t have the ability to add music to a Reel. If this is the case for your account, you’ll have to add music to an existing video before uploading it.
- And maintaining a consistent look for your Reels (using similar filters, colors, or lighting) will lend a professional aesthetic to your profile.
What kind of content should you be sharing on Reels? Don’t stray too far from your business’s typical Instagram fare, but be aware that Reels is modeled after TikTok, where light-hearted material is king. Fun and engaging content that’s visually interesting is the name of the game. Experiment with how-to tutorials or behind-the-scenes video of your process. You could also take advantage of whatever TikTok challenge or trend is currently popular. The possibilities really are endless, and Reels is the perfect next step for marketers who want TikTok engagement results on a more traditional platform.