An Introduction to Instagram Reels

So you’ve finally started doing what you love. You’ve taken the leap, you’ve made the decision, and you’re investing in yourself. That’s literally the coolest thing – you are taking charge of your life in a way very few people have the courage to. But where to from here? 

As a start-up business –  print, television and IRL advertising are costly and unattainable options – so your business is the most likely to gather an initial customer base through digital marketing. But DAMN – there are a thousand types of everything on the internet. It kinda feels like putting your hand up as a service provider feels like shouting into the void, right? 

Dawning Digital wants to help. We understand that starting up in an era of so much immediately available competition can be daunting, but not everyone can afford to hire a one-on-one consultant to manage your Social Media. So here are some tips for starting up your online presence in your time!

Introducing Instagram Reels – and though the sudden change may seem a little daunting – don’t worry, Dawning Digital is gonna help you figure it out!

The Reels feature was initially launched on 5 August 2020 across 50 countries, but gained traction slowly in the weeks that followed as the feature rolled out globally. The feature is defined by Instagram’s official press release as “a way to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools”… sounds familiar right? Well that’s because this feature was launched as a direct competitor (and some might say, copy of) a rival video sharing platform, TikTok, where short form video  content has gained massive shareability. It is important, however, not to dismiss Reels as a tool for your business because TikTok already fills that function. Why? Well, when Instagram first launched the Stories feature, it was widely dismissed as a carbon copy of Snapchat – but in 2021 it is an essential Digital Marketing tool that enables audience engagement.  So, let’s jump in and take a look…

How does it work?

Reels are 15 second long video clips that can be edited and filmed with a myriad of effects within the Reels tab of the Instagram app, or added to this Reels tab from inside your camera roll – so you have the opportunity to create and edit this content externally. These reels can be paired with a selection of sounds that Instagram provides for you – or you can generate your own audio for your clip, The audio that you choose to add to a clip can be a key to it’s success – sometimes certain sounds start to trend and making a video using a trending sound will likely get way more engagement and views from your audience, as well as bringing in a new audience who may not have seen what you have to offer!  Reels differ from Stories in that they have their own tab on your profile once uploaded – and can also be added as a permanent feature to your profile grid. They also have the added benefit – unlike stories – of having a space for a caption, which means that you can allow a much wider range of discovery on your content through the “explore” page – if you pack that caption full of  relevant hashtags to your business.

So your reel is uploaded, what now? Reels appear to your audience in 3 places. If you have chosen to share your Reel to your profile grid, your followers will see it appear on their regular feed like a Feed Posted video – which may create what looks like quite a drastic square crop on your long, upright video. But don’t worry –  if they click on the “show in reels” button in the bottom left hand corner of the square crop, it will take them to the Reels tab, where your Reel will play. The second place an audience may encounter your reel may be in the Reels Tab – where they’re choosing to browse. Reels auto-play after one another – so your reel may turn up in the discovery feed of a viewer who had been looking at a hashtag you used in your caption, or who followers accounts similar to yours. At this point, what the algorithm picks to show to viewers is still a bit of a mystery to everyone – so discovery in the Reels tab is still a bit of a mystery, unless Instagram decides to make your Reel a “Featured” reel. If they choose it, they’ll notify you, you get a nifty little “featured” badge above your video caption, and you get shown to a lot more people in the Reels tab. The third place people will see your reel is in the “Explore” tab, alongside posts, videos and IGTV uploads from other creators. You’ll be able to tell if content is a Reel in Explore by the little Reels icon in the corner – and if you tap on it – it takes you to the Reels main tab, where random autoplay starts.

If you’re looking for a really intuitive guide on how to create, upload and navigate the Reels function, the folks over at our fave scheduling platform, Later, have made this Ultimate Guide – with easy to follow visual prompts!

How could Reels Benefit your Business?

E-Commerce and Instagram Shop Integration

One area where Reels as a tool for businesses shows up it’s direct competitor, TikTok, is the way that it’s been structured to seamlessly integrate products into the content. Products can be showcased and hyperlinked to an audience within a Reels video, providing a pop up that shows off your mentioned product listings in your Instagram store.

This is beneficial for two reasons. The first being that Reels appear across more parts of the platform than any other type of content does, as well as having their own discovery tab – so your products are being directly offered to a brand new audience. Secondly – these short form videos have gained such traction because of their inherent shareability. If your content is enjoyed by your audience, they are very likely to share it to their stories or  friends in their DMs – which is taking your product directly into the feeds of your untapped target market in a way that wasn’t happening before.

Low Budget, High Turnover Video Content to a Larger Audience

Traditionally, video content – though engaging –  has been a much larger undertaking to create than still images. The length of these videos, as well as their portrait orientation, steer their tone away from that of highly produced, cinematic traditional video advertisements, and instead find success in candid, talking-to-camera, shot on phones and personal content.

This means you can create content as a business owner with only a phone and find yourself in the same league as large companies with gigantic advertising budgets. This medium also lends itself to having some fun by letting yourself be the face of your business – and endears customers to you because they start to associate your product with a personality – and begin to form loyalty towards your brand’s identity. Relatable is the name of the game with Reels. 

Market Relevance

In a world where consumers are becoming much more focused on the ethos of the brands they choose to spend money on – many (specifically Millenials and Gen Z consumers) – will not make purchases from a brand without first looking them up on social media, Therefore, your digital identity will become a deciding factor – along with product quality – in your appeal to consumers.

What does that have to do with Reels? Well, simply put – they’re new, they’re shiny, and they’re cool. If your brand’s identity wants to appeal to “cool” or “tech savvy” or “on the pulse” consumers, your digital presence needs to reflect that. Your Instagram page showing a solid grasp of what’s relevant will endear you to a generation of potential customers who have the same.

Now that  you know what they are, you know how to do them, and you know why you should – so let’s see your Instagram Reels! 

If you’re still feeling a little uncertain about where to start, or you’re looking to get a direction or feedback with where  you’re at on Social Media, Dawning Digital is here to help.

Book a consultation here and we can get chatting about how to get your passion seen by the world.