Short-form video marketing is booming right now. Micro videos can have a massive impact, and Instagram is well aware that video marketing is the future. That’s why Instagram Reels, the new micro-video sharing feature on Instagram, could be a major Instagram growth hack for 2021. Reels was recently launched by Instagram in August of 2020. The prediction is that the popularity of Reels will rise dramatically in 2021, due to the increasing demand for snackable video content, and the recent redesign of the Instagram app which places Reels in center focus.
The micro-video content featured in Instagram Reels is often referred to as “bite-sized”, “digestible” or “snackable” videos. These short and entertaining videos are easy to consume, and they cater to our generation’s increasingly shorter attention span. If you know how to make an impact in 15 seconds or less, then you know how to sell to today’s youth.
It’s clear that the launch of Instagram Reels was Instagram’s response to the roaring success of the TikTok app, which currently has 1 billion monthly active users who upload or watch short-form video content an average of 52 minutes per day. Unlike Instagram, TikTok is an app that shares strictly short-form video content, and nothing else. TikTok’s massive user base is therefore proof-of-concept that these bite-sized videos are the new “it” thing that youth want to consume, and essentially, the most powerful marketing tool for today’s Instagram influencer. Understanding how to best utilize these short-form videos is crucial to your Instagram growth strategy.
Instagram users no longer need to leave the Instagram app to scroll through a limitless feed of snackable video content. Reels is Instagram’s attempt to keep people off the TikTok app. Don’t forget that even though SnapChat launched Stories before Instagram did, as soon as Instagram launched their own Stories feature, they quickly squashed SnapChat as millions started using Instagram Stories instead of SnapChat. While we don’t yet know if Instagram Reels will surpass TikTok, it’s safe to say that Instagram Reels will continue to rise in popularity.
In November of 2020, the Instagram app implemented a redesign that gave this new feature a front-and-center position by giving “Reels” the center position on the app’s newly designed navigation bar. With Reels now on the home screen of the app, Instagram users are bound to start using this feature more regularly.
Because of the rising popularity of snackable video content, it’s undeniable that using Instagram Reels will help Instagram influencers and marketers reach a wider audience and grow their accounts. Deciding not to use this new Instagram feature would be like leaving money on the table – or leaving followers in the wind. Let’s discuss how you can use Instagram Reels to grow your Instagram account. But first, what exactly is this new and promising feature?
What Exactly Are Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels, the new video-sharing feature on the Instagram app, allows users to upload a short video clip (which was recently extended from 15 seconds to 30 seconds maximum) that they can edit and add effects to before sharing to Instagram.
When you upload a video clip to Instagram Reels, you have the opportunity to edit it to your liking before you share it. Instagram has set up many easy-to-use features to make your videos that much more engaging. You can add text to it, add sounds or music, and add special effects such as slow motion or special transitions. The “Align” effect, for example, allows you to line up specific objects in video clips (such as the dress you’re wearing) to the next video clip, so that the transition is seamless and looks like an instant outfit change took place. Many of the short 15 second videos you see in Reels are actually a series of 2 – 3 second videos seamlessly blended together using the special effects Reels offers.
A major pro of using Reels for Instagram influencers is that Instagram’s “Explore” page now has a new dedicated space for users to explore Reels. If you have a public Instagram account, your Reel could show up on users’ “Explore” page, resulting in a ton of exposure for your account as you reach new audiences globally. Once posted, your new Reel will also live on the new dedicated Instagram Reels tab on your profile. It can live on your Instagram grid as well, if that’s your preference.
Unlike Instagram Stories that disappear after 24 hours, Instagram Reels become a permanent fixture on your profile once uploaded, and there is a dedicated spot for them so that your followers can re-watch them whenever they like.
If you have a public account, any Instagram user who clicks on the “Reels” icon on their app’s home screen, could stumble across your Reel and become a new follower. Reels have an easy “Follow” button so that non-followers who view your Reel can follow you with one simple click if they love your Reel. You’ll have to get creative if you want to consistently turn Reel viewers into followers.
How To Use Instagram Reels as a Growth Strategy
If your goal on Instagram is to grow your following and reach broader audiences, it’s important to know how Instagram Reels can help you grow your account. Video content gets 48% more views on social media compared to static photos, and Reels are one of the easiest ways to get your video content out there.
Why does video content get more views? Mainly because people love sharing videos on social media, and videos are simply more engaging than photos. The more shares, the more views, and after watching something that was valuable, many people want to share it. The term ‘viral video’ exists for a reason, and your Instagram Reel does have the potential to become a viral video.
Viral or not, these fun and easy-to-consume videos will help you reach more people, connect with Instagram users, and grow your following. Below are some examples of how to use the Instagram Reels feature to your advantage:
- Brand Story: Tell your story in a short reel, including your core identity, brand values and a personal backstory about who you are, to help you connect with your audience. In general, short-form storytelling in the form of a micro-story reel is a fun way to connect with your audience and humanize your brand.
- Product Reviews: Reels are a great way to do product reviews in a fun and creative format, allowing you to “show-and-tell” while keeping your viewers engaged.
- Product Tutorials: It’s much more effective to show your audience how to use something live on an Instagram Reel, rather than write copy attempting to explain it to them.
- Educational Content: Reels are a smart way to showcase your expertise on a subject. Dating experts on Instagram can use Reels to give away some free dating advice, food bloggers can educate viewers on how to make a mini version of their favorite dessert, and fitness models can use Reels to teach their viewers various exercises.
- Fun or Humorous Content: Add some fun or humor to your Instagram to gain more followers. Use Reels to upload a fun fashion show video (using the ‘align’ effect to do quick outfit switches) or create a funny skit with your partner and upload it to Reels.
- Behind The Scenes: Use Reels to give your followers a sneak peek of your life behind-the-scenes as an Instagram influencer. Show them your home office, your vision board, your media room, or any other peeks into your life that help humanize your brand.
- Teaser Content: Upload a short video to Reels that teases your Instagram following on what they can expect if they buy your product or follow your account. For example, a mixologist on Instagram who has a new cocktail recipe book for sale, might upload a teaser video of them making a unique cocktail from the book.
Don’t forget to tag products if sales is one of your goals when posting Instagram Reels. This is a brand new feature offered by Instagram. In December of 2020, Instagram launched their Shopping feature in Reels, so that users can tag products when they create Reels. When people view an Instagram Reel of a makeup tutorial, for example, they can now tap a “View Products” button if the creator of the reel tagged the products. From there, they can purchase or save the featured products.
Be sure to also add appropriate hashtags to your Instagram Reels to reach your target audience. The mixologist on Instagram, for example, would probably add hashtags such as #mixology and #cocktailrecipe to their Reel.
It’s also crucial that you add value and try to engage a niche market. For example, if you’re uploading educational content via Instagram Reels in the form of free baking tips, add value using a popular niche. Upload a video tutorial for baking a keto dessert that hasn’t been seen much elsewhere. Since the keto diet is a niche diet that’s widely followed, a reel related to this with relevant #ketodesserts hashtags would do better than a general cooking video would. Even more niche would be mini desserts that are keto-friendly.
Hit Emotional Triggers with Your Micro-Video Content
Instagram recommends you keep your videos under 15 seconds, as that way your reel will automatically play (in its entirety) in the Instagram feed. If you keep your Reels under 15 seconds, users can watch your entire video from start to finish, while scrolling the home feed.
It will definitely take longer than 15 seconds, however, to come up with your video idea – especially if you want to hit emotional triggers and create a shareable piece of content.
If you learn how to succeed at hitting emotional triggers in your audience using your short videos, you’ll be well on your way to growing your Instagram account through Instagram Reels. Why? Because your audience is much more likely to share the Reel or decide to follow you if you evoke an emotional reaction. Perhaps you can trigger emotions of hope, happiness, excitement or motivation. This isn’t impossible to achieve in 15 seconds if you know your audience well enough to know what they respond to. You’ll quickly grow your Instagram account if you’re posting content that hits the right emotional buttons in your viewers.
Why Instagram Favors Users Who Leverage New Features
What are some other reasons why utilizing Instagram Reels could help you grow your Instagram account? The Instagram algorithm favors active users who leverage every aspect of the Instagram platform. Instagram wants you to utilize its new features such as Instagram Reels. That’s why if you’re an active user who is active daily when it comes to grid posts, stories and reels, you’re essentially gaming the Instagram algorithm.
If you can’t post every day that’s okay, but you want to actively be posting reels, stories and grid posts every week in order to be boosted by the Instagram algorithm. Plus, since Instagram is currently pushing this new feature, any newly-posted Reels are more likely to get a visibility boost from Instagram compared to a new grid post.
In general, a big part of growth hacking is staying ahead of your competition in terms of keeping up with the latest trends and the newest consumer behaviors. You have to keep a leg up on your competition, and ignoring a new Instagram trend such as Instagram Reels is not the way to maintain that competitive advantage. It’s in your best interest to learn how to create engaging Reels, and upload them consistently.
Instagram’s Advice for Maximizing the Reels Feature
Instagram very recently shared some tips for using Reels – direct from Instagram headquarters. In January of 2021, Instagram released a new guide for Reels entitled, “The Dos and Don’ts for Reely Good Reels”.
Some of their “Dos” include, “Do pull the viewer in quickly – the more intriguing the better”, and “Do have a fun surprise or twist.” It’s clear that Instagram is encouraging users to create engaging, viral content on Reels. See their full list of dos and dont’s below:
Ready To Take Your Instagram Account To New Heights?
The growth of your Instagram account relies on you growing your following. You now understand how Instagram Reels can help you grow your following and reach wider audiences, but your growth strategy doesn’t end there.
If you want to be successful as an Instagram influencer, you’ll need a good-looking profile and social proof in the form of lots of followers. Leveraging Instagram’s features such as Reels and making your Instagram profile look professional is only half of the battle, however. The other half of the battle is finding brands to sponsor you.
If you do your part, and create high-quality content on Instagram so that you have an attractive Instagram account, Scalefluence can help you with the rest. Partnering with an influencer marketing platform such as Scalefluence is a decision that will help you take your Instagram influence to new heights.
Scalefluence partners get access to top brands for lucrative Instagram sponsorships and long-term brand relationships. At Scalefluence, we match Instagram influencers with brands that align with their specific audience or niche.
Do you want to make more money from your Instagram account? Do you want to secure more brand sponsorships and build long-term relationships with top brands? If so, our team can help you get started. Sign up with Scalefluence today to learn more.