Have you checked out the new feature on Instagram yet? It’s called Instagram Reels and it’s a feature you should start using for your business. Instagram users in the US, as well as fifty other countries, can now record and edit their 15-second video clips and set them to music. Reels can be a single clip or a series of clips, shared on private or public accounts through stories or the new Reels tab. Users can search through Instagram's music library to use a song or create their own original audio, which is attributed to them through Instagram and can be used by other creators. Similar to TikTok, there are augmented reality effects that can be used with Reels. These augmented reality effects are similar to existing photo filters on Instagram. Instagram users can also discover new and popular Reels through the Explore feed.

Why Did Instagram Launch Reels?

Instagram Reels provides a new alternative to TikTok, which, according to AdWeek, had "the most downloads ever for any app in a quarter" in the first quarter of 2020. Statista found that as of June 2020, over half of the app's users are under 30, with 32.5 percent being teens and 29.5 percent falling in the 20 to 29-year-old bracket. The app, at first, surged in popularity for Gen Z. However, it is now rising in popularity among millennials, which is Instagram's target demographic, with most users under 35. 

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Will Reels Succeed?

Facebook tried to compete with TikTok using a standalone app called Lasso in 2019, which wasn't successful. Instagram has a better chance of competition because of the younger user base, and the fact that users are already familiar with creating videos on the platform through stories and IGTV. This isn't the first time Instagram has tried to integrate an existing app's features into the platform. Instagram launched Stories seemingly as a response to Snapchat, which was popular at the time and quickly overshadowed the app. 

All-in-One Platform

Reels are integrated into the existing Explore Feed with IGTV, regular posts, videos, and stories. Certain Reels get promoted as "Top Reels" to gain extra traction and encourage new content. What sets Instagram apart is that it's an all-in-one platform with the addition of Reels, combining the best parts of other social media platforms like Snapchat and TikTok with the added benefit of creating the content in Instagram and sending it to friends without having to leave the app. 

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TikTok vs. Reels

TikTok is a platform strictly for TikTok videos. Tiktok even pays top creators to create content. Instagram does pay users now, but allows for sponsored posts and brand partnerships. TikTok expanded from 15-second clips to 60-second clips in early 2020, but Reels is sticking to 15 seconds. Reels is new and doesn't have all of the features TikTok has yet, like duets and the ability to upload original audio. 

Currently, unlike TikTok, saving a Reel to your phone removes the music for copyright purposes. Reels also doesn't allow for "friends only" posts as TikTok does - it only allows you to share with people you're already friends with.

Reels is another way to create content for a brand, especially content that is more on the "fun" side. This feature is still new, and there's potential to get a reel "promoted" by Instagram itself for increasing engagement. Reels is an opportunity to really build a brand, highlight its personality, and connect with followers. Another way to use Reels is to repurpose existing content, shortening it into 15-second clips and adding effects or music. Reels shows the trend towards micro-content; brands getting away from long videos and traditional commercials to use social media for shorter videos and posts. Both TikTok and Reels strip away the barrier into video marketing; there's no need for fancy equipment or editing material; you can do it all within the apps.

If you need help getting the most out of your social media, or want more information on using social media as a business, contact the experts here at Ironmark. We’re here to help.

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Written by Lynne Kingsley

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