Instagram first came onto the scene in 2010. Back then, no one quite understood how a platform filled with selfies could be used for business.
Fast forward to 2020; there are now over 25 million business profiles on the app that are followed by over 800 million people. According to Hootsuite, 75.3% of businesses are on Instagram. There are good reasons for this growth.
The first is its visual nature. Who doesn’t love eye candy? The aesthetic quality of Instagram provides businesses with a fantastic opportunity to showcase their products. After all, nothing tells the story better than an image.
It is also a fact that Instagram users are more engaged than Facebook and Twitter. According to Hootsuite, branded posts on Twitter have an average engagement rate of 4.3%. The median rate hovers around 3.5%. This quality is in stark contrast to other channels where the average engagement rate is about 0.15%.
It isn’t just its visual nature and engagement rate that make Instagram a powerful business tool. Instagram users make use of it as part of discovery in the buyers’ funnel. According to a Facebook survey, 54% of people purchased at the moment or right after seeing a product post on Instagram. The same study also found that brands on Instagram gained a halo effect – users viewed them as popular, relevant, entertaining, and creative.
Over recent years, Instagram has launched several business tools such as links in Instagram Stories and Shoppable Instagram posts. There is a relatively new feature, a powerful business tool that many businesses are yet to latch onto, Instagram Reels.
What are Instagram Reels?
On 5th August 2020, Instagram announced the launch of this new feature. Reels are essentially shareable short, entertaining videos that are 30-seconds long. They come with a raft of creative editing tools to overlay music, speed or slow down playback, and embellish with emojis.
Share Reels with followers on the Feed, and if you have a public account, you can share them with the whole world.
Most people who have used Reels note that it’s uncannily similar to Tik Tok, and it is! The New York Times has gone as far as calling Reels a Tik Tok clone.
But, whatever people’s opinions are, it’s hard to argue with results. Facebook (owns Instagram) has been known to take its competitors’ features, improve upon them, and develop fantastic business tools. They did the same with Snapchat when they came up with Instagram Stories, and no one can claim Stories hasn’t outdone Snapchat as a marketing tool.
How are they Different from Stories?
At this point, you must be scratching your head, wondering how Reels is different from Stories. The main difference is that Stories are a social feature, whereas Reels is an entertainment feature.
Stories are accessible from the top bar of your app and can include videos or images. With Stories, the intent is to share quick little snippets with your follows.
Reels are 30-second videos and are found in a dedicated section within the Explore tab.
How to Find Reels
At the time of writing this post, Reels wasn’t available to everyone. Also, some accounts can create Reels while others aren’t. Before you do anything, first ensure that you have the latest version of Instagram installed on your phone. If you don’t have the newest version, update the app.
To find Reels, tap on the Explore tab (the magnifying glass) in the app.
You will see an icon with the label Reels right next to it. Tap this to enter the dedicated hub. Swipe up or down to move from one Reel to the next.
To like a Reel, tap the heart icon at the bottom. You can also comment by tapping the comment icon. There is a counter that shows you the number of likes and comments at your screen’s bottom right.
Clicking the three vertical dots at the bottom brings up a menu with five options:
- Report: You can report a post if you think it’s spam or inappropriate under Instagram’s rules.
- Not interested: Tapping this hides the Reel, and you won’t see it again.
- Copy link: If you want to share the Reel via a link, tap this to copy the link.
- Share to: This option allows you to share the Reel via the different apps on your phone.
- Save: You can also save a Reel on your phone.
Reels come with descriptions inserted by the poster. To see the full description, tap on the “more” button.
To listen to the audio, ensure your device’s volume is turned up.
You can see the profile of the poster by tapping the profile name or picture. There is also a follow button right next to the poster’s name.
How To Create a Reel
Before you dive in and create your first Reel, I recommend you use the Explore tab to see Reels from other brands and get a sense of what works, what inspires you, and see examples of creativity.
- When ready, there are two ways to start creating Reels. On the app’s home page, tap the camera and tap the Reels tab at the bottom. Alternatively, you can start a Reel while viewing another creator’s Reel by tapping the camera icon and tapping the Reels tab.
- To begin recording, tap, and hold the camera icon. A progress bar at the top shows you how long you have recorded in seconds.
- You can also add a video from your camera roll by tapping the camera roll icon at the bottom left of your screen.
- You can watch, trim, and delete a previous Reel by tapping the back button.
- To add text, drawings, and stickers, tap the forward button. The slider allows you to select where you want these additional elements to appear.
- Tap the forward button again, write a caption, tap Share, and you’re done!
Creative Editing Tools
Instagram offers a raft of features on the left side of your screen to add some sauce to your Reels before they go live:
- Music and Audio Effects: Use your original audio or search for a song from the Instagram library. The original audio is attributed to you.
- Augmented Reality Effects: This feature allows you to take videos with virtual characters and scenes. Instagram has a rich inventory of AR effects from in-house creators and designers from around the world.
- Countdown and Timer: To record a Reel hands-free, set the timer.
- Align: You can also create seamless transitions by lining up objects from previous Reels.
- Playback speed: You can manipulate the playback speed. This feature is useful where you want to make a time-lapse video or show things in slow motion.
How to use Instagram Reels for Business
The unique thing about Reels is that it sits in the Explore tab. This section is used by more than 50% of Instagram accounts monthly, an incredible opportunity to expose your brand. Below are six ways to use Instagram Reels for business.
- Create Tutorials and Step-by-Step Videos: Reels offer a fantastic opportunity to show prospective customers how a product works or demonstrate a process. For example, a software seller can create a series of clips to tutor users on using a feature. The food industry can create clips to show a recipe. There is a utility for every industry, and the possibilities are endless.
- Use Time Lapse Videos: Industries such as health, fitness, construction, and many more can use this feature to show the progression from an initial to a final state.
- Show Your Audience Behind-the-Scenes Content: Reels are also great for creating quick meet-the-staff videos for your audience. For example, you can share a day in one of your staff’s life or show a process happening in real-time. It is a great way to build trust and foster relationships with your followers. Your audience understands who you are and why you do what you do.
- Product Showcasing: As mentioned earlier, the Explore section of Instagram is a goldmine. Even people who don’t follow you will still see your content. Create clips showcasing your product and use relevant hashtags, descriptive captions, and text overlay to let the Instagram algorithm know what your post is all about.
- Share Educational Content: Educational content is an essential step in the marketing funnel. It creates awareness and precipitates the prospect’s interest. Think of content ideas that will draw in prospects. Five tips to maintain hair naturally, three secrets to delicious pancakes, five romantic getaways for the weekend – there is so much stuff you can share with your followers to teach them something new.
- Announcements: Finally, Reels is a great way to get the word out. Whether it’s a recent product announcement, a significant development in your business, or something you think is useful to your audience, you can get the word out with a Reel.
As with all social media, always remember that people are primarily looking to socialize and have fun. Do not be overt with your advertisements. Focus on originality and fun to drive engagement, and success will follow.