A new era of marketing has arrived this year amid Coronavirus with new platforms rising to the top and consumers behaving differently to brands. One of the newest features to be added to one of the biggest social platforms in the world is Instagram Reels; a new way to create and discover short-form video in-platform.
Reels allows you to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with custom audio, effects and tools like filters. Users, as well as brands, have taken to it with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Sephora creating their first campaigns on the app. Whilst the content on Reels is scarily similar to that of TikTok, with many users repurposing TikTok content on Reels, we don’t believe it will be a direct competitor to the app.
Instead, it will provide Instagram some variety and enable brands, as well as creators, to be less curated and aesthetically-focused, such the content that Instagram perpetuates. It will give them the chance to show their audience a different side to them through creative, original and more quirky content.
However, navigating new features can be a minefield for a marketer. Reels was only released in August 2020 and so there is little insight and information on how brands can really take advantage of its potential. We’ve written the top 5 ways brands can leverage Reels in their marketing strategy to make sure you are top of your game and splash the competition out of the water.
The Top 5 Ways Brands Can Leverage Instagram Reels In Their Marketing Strategy:
- 1. Use TikTok to stay one step ahead of new IG Reels trends
- 2. Take inspiration from other brands utilising Reels
- 3. Instagram will push brands who jump straight on Reels’ new features
- 4. Informational content is a great place to start
- 5. Growing your fanbase is about leveraging the discover page not engagement
1. Use TikTok to stay one step ahead of new IG Reels trends
The first way for brands to make the most of IG Reels in their strategy is by understanding its correlation with TikTok content. With TikTok videos being repurposed on Reels, we’re starting to see a direct relationship between what trends on TikTok one week appear on IG Reels the next.
Head of Product at Instagram, Vishal Shah, has highlighted just how monumental TikTok has been in developing a whole generation’s way of viewing social media and even credited TikTok in their press release for IG Reels: "[TikTok] certainly didn't invent short form video, but they innovated it,". So what does this mirroring effect between the two platforms tell us? In order to be a step ahead on Reels, you need to be up to date with the latest trends on TikTok.
With IG Reels’ dance moves, music and sounds being lifted straight from TikTok, it has never been more pertinent for brands to stay on top of TikTok trends. If your brand keeps up to date with what content is and isn’t working on TikTok, then you can leverage this content straight into your IG Reels strategy. This will mean you are not only on trend but you’re ahead of the curve and can be one of the first to jump on what is trending on the new platform.
And we’ve already seen some brands doing just that. Louis Vuitton is a great example of a brand which has no videos on their TikTok channel, but have leveraged TikTok trends and features that are popular on the platform in their IG Reels content. Louis Vuitton’s IG Reels videos make direct use of TikTok’s popular transition trend to demonstrate different outfits, just like users do on TikTok. In their first series of IG Reels, models are filmed dropping and picking up a phone whilst their outfits are changed. These sleek transitions that are so popular on TikTok are unsurprisingly also a hit on IG Reels. This particular Louis Vuitton reel has brought in 8.6M views and has 373K likes.
At Fanbytes by Brainlabs, we write a trends newsletter direct to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday where we describe the top trends on TikTok during that time. We speak about what the trend is, why it’s a trend, and how you can leverage it as a brand. If you’d like access to this to inform your Reels content, click here.
2. Take inspiration from other brands utilising Reels
As well as Louis Vuitton, another brand we’ve seen that’s top of their IG Reels game is Sephora. A brand already renowned for their beauty products, Sephora are the best in the game for stocking a wide-ranging selection of makeup, skin care, fragrance and a variety of different brands. Despite only having three IG reels videos on their channel, each piece of content has perfectly nailed how to market products in this new short and engaging format and brands can learn a lot from them.
With 20.2M followers, Sephora knows exactly what their beauty-obsessed customers want - information about new products and how to use them. If we look at Sephora’s first reel, it encourages their followers to take part in a makeup challenge. We know that challenges have been extremely popular on TikTok and Sephora recognised early on that IG Reels was following suit.
In Sephora’s first reel video, popular makeup influencer Ryan B Potter talks the viewers through a creative way of finding new eyeshadow looks by randomly selecting five colours from a palette based on a number generator. Ryan speedlily and efficiently goes through the process and demonstrates a look created in this way. At the end of the video Ryan encourages viewers to take part in the challenge.
Ryan’s call-to-action, encouraging users to take part has the effect that brands desire from these sorts of videos. When challenges are done right, they are highly engaged with and bring more attention to brands accounts due to the hype and word-of-mouth created from it. The 2.1M view count, 29.5K likes and 329 comments shows that Sephora knew exactly what they were doing.
By further tagging branded products in the caption, Sephora reinforced their understanding of their Instagram followers’ needs; promotional and demonstrative content of new products. If you already know what your Instagram followers want, then leverage that into the new short-form and engaging IG Reels format - you’re good to go!
Another brand who knows exactly what their followers want in their IG Reels strategy is Fast and Food. This brand recognises the #foodeatfirst and #foodporn demographic that they are marketing to and exaggerate this with short mouthwatering content for IG Reels.
This simple video of someone across the table cutting open a burrata is exactly what Fast and Food’s IG Reels are all about. Slowly opening the incredible looking piece of burrata and then pouring olive oil over it, is extremely appetising, satisfying and aesthetically pleasing for the viewer. Fast and Food know their audience and have tapped into the #foodporn niche on Instagram. It makes us want to hop on a plane and order this burrata ASAP!
Brands should take Fast and Food and Sephora as IG Reels inspiration for their marketing strategies. They are successful because they utilise the content they already know works with their Instagram followers. Whether your brand is makeup, food or anything else, there’s a lot to be learnt from both of these brands in any successful niche on IG Reels.
3. Instagram will push brands who jump straight on Reels’ new features
We know that social media is not just about appealing to your current following but it’s also about expanding your reach and growing. It became clear from the inception of Reels that they will push content from brands who utilise all of the new features that the platform offers. We found that creators who jump on IG Reels and utilise its tools and features have been rewarded with visibility at the top of Discover Pages.
IG Reels offers many great in-app features, including a plethora of music. Take Junesixtyfive’s content, which regularly makes use of IG Reels’ music library. In this video of her day at the beach, Junesixtyfive uses Billie Eilish’s song, ‘ilomilo’ in a series of short clips that has been made into a reel. In the video Junesixtyfive shows off her favourite summer looks and the song fits in perfectly with the type of short-form content she makes.
This video brought in 284K views and accumulated 15K likes and 186 comments. Since then, Junesixtyfive has continued to use trending songs in her content and the content has consistently done well. The user’s most regular post with the soundtrack ‘Go Go Go Who’s Nxt’ by hiphopharrytv, accumulated 31.8M views, 358K likes and 1913 comments.
This rise in views and engagement with her post, comes from Junesixtyfive’s content being pushed and therefore discovered by more users. This is a great incentive for brands to keep as on top of new offerings as possible. By implementing this into your brand’s IG Reels strategy, you will not only be seen as innovative but will increase your visibility on the platform.
4. Informational content is a great place to start
In the midst of all of IG Reels’ exciting features, it is important not to forget the most important aspect of creating short-form content - keeping the product as the secondary focus of the video. When appealing to your audience with short, authentic and informational content, remember that you are not making a traditional advertisement where the product is the central focus.
What you want to achieve is an immensely entertaining video that does a great job at subtly promoting your product. Showcasing products is a good idea but brands should do this by jumping onto trends and creating content that is more focused on the Reels effects and the innovation and creativity of the content rather than the product itself.
A great way to forgo this is by creating content on things you already know and are experts on and sharing that with your audience. Use IG Reels’ tools in order to demonstrate your knowledge and truly inform the viewer. This could be anything from ‘5 ways to wear a plain white shirt’ to ‘3 ways to eat a jacket potato’.
Owning a niche is how we saw plenty of TikTok creators blow up within mere months so by doing these types of videos and owning that niche is a great way to get noticed and claim that top spot. This is especially effective now since Reels has just been launched.
Take Kevinbparry’s IG Reels content as an example. Although Kevin is a stop-motion animator and his priority as a business is to sell his skills, he is not afraid of letting viewers in on his animation secrets. Take this ‘how to’ video where Kevinbparry let’s viewers in on how he created an earlier video which reached 1.6M views.
It is clear from the view count that Instagram users love this informational content. By letting users in on how he creates his innovative and engaging videos, Kevin has gained consistent view counts and engagement, as users follow him to view more. This is a perfect example of why brands should put all inhibitions aside when creating content for short-form social media platforms and tap into the informational niche.
5. Growing your fanbase is about leveraging the discover page not engagement
In order to keep this fanbase growing, it is important to truly understand how users will be engaging with your IG Reels. On both TikTok and IG Reels it is important for brands to keep growing their fanbase, but brands should not expect this to happen in the same way.
Because IG Reels is so new, with each video that is created on the feature, Instagram will push it based on how much it has been watched and liked, rather than how much it is engaged with, which is how it works on TikTok. Because users are not as familiar with IG Reels, many users won’t be sharing, commenting and engaging with the content in the same way they do on other platforms.
Instead of engagement rating, Instagram will push videos that have high watch and like counts to appear on random users’ Discover Pages. This is how the IG Reels algorithm works and you can see this as soon as you click on this part of the app.
If we take the example of Allaboutbants, an influencer who has a strong following on both TikTok and Instagram, we can see how engagement for the exact same videos differ on both platforms. Allaboutbants has a strong TikTok presence of 2 million followers. His average views are around 80K on TikTok, with likes of around 20K and averaging 100 comments on his posts. On Instagram, however, Allaboutbants only has 110K followers but brings in 100K views, 3K likes and averages 50 comments on his IG Reels posts.
This humorous video of a prankster balloon posted on both Allaboutbants’ IG Reels and TikTok pages, brought in 221.6K views on TikTok but a higher count of 235K views on IG Reels. However, the video only achieved 9,044 likes and 92 comments on IG Reels and gained 38.1K likes and 212 comments on TikTok.
These stats tell us that although the engagement rate is much higher on TikTok, more users have viewed the content on IG Reels. From this we can determine that similar content is being pushed to more users on Instagram through the Discover Page which gives brands greater visibility and more opportunity to gain followers on the platform.
All of this means that brands should not be disheartened about engagement rating on IG Reels. The main aspect is view count and if this is consistently high, then your content is doing exactly what it should be.
In order to keep appearing on users’ Discover Pages on Instagram, make sure you are creating informational or relevant content to your IG Reels audience and making the best use possible out of the platform’s latest features. These tips will put your brand in the best stead for growing your following on IG using Reels and becoming one of the best in the game.
We’ve created a comprehensive marketing guide to Reels for brands to learn even more and begin their Reels journey with nothing less than a bang. Complete with strategy tips, content ideas, and exclusive insights, we’re giving you free access here.