Only in early August 2020 did Instagram formally unveil Reels, and it’s fair to say its spiel about giving users “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos” rings a little familiar.
Yes, that’s right; Instagram Reels is Facebook’s answer to the runaway success of TikTok. Well, strictly speaking, it’s Facebook’s latest answer, its previous attempt – the standalone app Lasso – having closed down over the summer less than two years after launching.
Lasso never quite took off even amid the coronavirus lockdown conditions that seem to have accelerated TikTok’s staggering growth even outside the Generation Z demographic that had long dominated its user base. So, will the situation be any different with Instagram Reels?
Reels is already making a serious impact
The short answer to the above question is... we probably know Instagram Reels will succeed where Lasso floundered, because we’re seeing the evidence already. Heavyweight brands like Louis Vuitton and Sephora France are putting Reels to imaginative use even in its infancy.
And with the feature – which was first launched in Brazil late last year – having now become available in more than 50 other countries including the UK and US, and being contained within the Instagram app itself to capitalise on the social network’s one billion existing users, we already rate its longer-term prospects somewhat higher than Lasso’s.
How does Reels work, then?
For anyone on nodding terms with TikTok, the way Instagram Reels works will feel instinctive straight away. It’s all about using various creative tools to create fun and compelling 15-second videos, which the user can then share with their followers and across the Instagram ecosystem.
Aside from the fact that TikTok is a platform in and of itself while Instagram Reels is effectively a feature within an existing app, the two obvious rivals have certain significant differences.
Users of Reels, for instance, are restricted to 15 seconds for the duration of their videos, compared to the one-minute limit for TikTok. In addition, all videos posted to TikTok remain on TikTok, whereas Instagram gives you the option to share Reels to your Stories, in which case, they will disappear after 24 hours.
Other than that, even those who may never ventured onto TikTok can quickly and easily get to grips with Instagram Reels, and enjoy a broadly equivalent experience. There are two ways of creating a Reel – pressing and holding the record button with Instagram’s camera function to capture footage, or uploading an existing video from your device’s camera roll.
What else can users do with their Reels?
As is the case with TikTok, the real fun on Instagram Reels begins even before you hit the ‘record’ button. Fire up the Instagram camera and scroll to ‘Reels’, and you will immediately be able to take advantage of such possibilities as adding music to your video, altering the speed, setting a timer and adding offbeat effects.
When you’re ready to capture footage, hit the record button, and then tap it again to end the clip; presuming your permitted 15 seconds aren’t yet up, you can then tap it again to start a new clip, with the results being put together to form what your viewers will watch. As do this, you will also be able to take advantage of the Align tool, which lines up objects from the previous clip for the creation of seamless transitions.
Once all recording is done, you can further edit your reel with the addition of text, stickers and drawings. Then, by tapping the ‘next’ button, which takes the form of a rightward arrow in the bottom right corner of the screen, you can share the finished clip to Reels or Stories.
As we’ve already covered, posting your Reel to Stories will mean it only remains available to watch for 24 hours. Share it to the Reels option, though, and it will be visible on a dedicated Reels tab on your Instagram profile, and may appear in Explore – which will allow those who don’t already follow you to see it.
You might also specify here that you wish to share the Reel in the feeds of your followers, who will be able to identify it as a Reel due to the small clapperboard icon in the left-hand corner.
What possibilities does Instagram Reels offer for business?
Where do we start? There are all manner of ways in which individuals and brands across Instagram are already using Reels in ways that could be invaluable for your own business, ranging from the showcasing of products and the sharing of educational content, to the repurposing of TikTok videos and the announcements of sales and promotions.
To learn more about how our Shopify Instagram marketing professionals at Underwaterpistol could guide and assist you in getting the best out of Reels, delivering that all-important creativity to power your growth, simply get in touch with us today.