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TikTok is by far the most popular app to emerge in recent years. In fact, it actually surpassed Facebook and Instagram in terms of download numbers in 2019. It was only a matter of time until Instagram tried to level the playing field. Introducing: Instagram Reels.
There’s no denying that Instagram’s newest product is remarkably similar to TikTok. In fact, you’re probably going to get tired of me saying “just like TikTok…” in this article. However, that’s not to say that the two products are identical.
My advice would be not to sleep on Instagram Reels. TikTok’s future is uncertain and competition in the marketplace can only be a good thing. With that in mind, I’ve created this guide to Instagram Reels so that you can better understand it and use it to help grow your business.
Instagram Reels is a short form video sharing feature. Users create a 15-second video clip then add text, special effects and audio. This could be background music or comedy sound bites.
Just like TikTok, the Reels feed is a never-ending sequence of videos the algorithm thinks you might like. You don’t have to go searching for new content because it’s delivered right to your screen.
To access Reels, head to your Instagram Discover feed as normal. At the top of the screen, a video will appear with a Reels watermark in the bottom left hand corner, like this:
If you’d like to look at a specific user’s Reels, go to their profile and click the Reels icon in the menu bar. It’s just as easy as looking at their tagged photos or IGTV videos.
To publish your own Reel, head to your Reels feed and click the camera icon in the top right hand corner.
You can record videos in-app or select a pre-recorded one from your gallery. Just like TikTok, you can also choose multiple clips and stitch them together. Add audio and text, then hit publish.
You can also choose your song or sound bite before recording in-app which is ideal if you want to lip-sync.
I think it’s safe to say that Instagram is coming for TikTok. However, in many ways Reels is actually more convenient for users. Whilst TikTok is a standalone app, Reels is merely a single feature on the wider Instagram platform – and I’m willing to bet you already have the app installed on your phone.
Personally, I find Instagram Reels feels a little bit smoother to use. It took me less time to figure out how to use Reels than it did TikTok… but maybe that’s because I was already familiar with the latter. Still, in my opinion, Reels’ interface is a touch cleaner and more user-friendly than its competitor’s.
However, TikTok definitely has the advantage when it comes to the time limit. TikTok clips can be up to 60 seconds long, whilst Reels clips are capped at 15.
Reels is also yet to launch a duet feature. TikTok duets are very popular, giving creators a chance to react to one another in an amusing – and occasionally dramatic – way. This feature allows popular figures to really connect with their audiences – for example, popular dermatology gurus love to react to their fans’ skincare routines. It’s most likely only a matter of time until Instagram launches a similar feature but for now, TikTok definitely has the edge.
You might be thinking “hold up. Doesn’t Instagram already have a video sharing platform?”
And you’d be right, it does.
IGTV is more like Instagram’s answer to YouTube. It’s designed for long form videos and creators often use it to create series or lengthy Q+A videos. Reels is optimized to promote short, snappy content. Both are great features but they serve very different purposes.
There’s no question that TikTok is the OG, but there are clear advantages to using Reels. Remember, you don’t have to choose one or the other.
For one thing, Instagram is already a hugely popular app. It’s got 1 billion active monthly users – a statistic that’s just too big to ignore. Reels is seamlessly integrated into the app and doesn’t require users to download anything new or unfamiliar.
Putting all of your eggs in one basket is always a dangerous game. This is particularly relevant when it comes to TikTok because, as you’ve probably heard, there’s a real possibility that the app could be banned in the not-too-distant future. In fact, it’s already been banned in India, so if that’s your demographic, Reels is the way to go.
Speaking of demographics, Instagram attracts a more diverse audience than TikTok. TikTok started its life as a “teen” app and although the number of millennial users is growing, almost 70% of its users are under the age of 25.
In contrast, 50% of Instagram users are over 34. If your business is geared towards a slightly older audience, Instagram Reels could help you reach them more effectively.
Cast your mind back to 2016 when Instagram launched its Stories feature. The move was a response to the popularity of the photo messaging app Snapchat, which had debuted a similar feature in 2013.
The launch of Instagram Stories didn’t kill Snapchat, it certainly dented it in a big way. That hasn’t happened to TikTok yet… but it’s early days.
Up until now, TikTok has dominated the short form video market. Since the death of 6-second video app Vine in 2016, many other apps have tried to take its place but only TikTok has truly taken off. Now, Instagram Reels is offering direct competition and generally speaking, this is a good thing. Competition in the market will push both apps to provide users with the best experience possible.
Instagram Reels offers new and exciting opportunities for businesses. For one thing, it can help you to organically grow your Instagram following.
Instagram’s most followed accounts are owned by celebrities who were famous long before they logged on. Meanwhile, the most popular people on TikTok are creators who amassed their following using the app itself. This is due to the way the algorithm and the “For You” feed works and happily, Reels operates in a similar way. It helps you to reach new users who aren’t already following you and makes it easier than ever to connect with new audiences. Reels presents a valuable opportunity for creators to grow their Instagram following, no celebrity credentials needed.
Here are some ideas on the type of Reels content that could help you to grow your business:
One way to build trust and establish authority with your audience is to educate them. By publishing quick tips, guides and how-to videos, you’re helping your viewers to learn and proving that you know your stuff.
For example, let’s say you’re a haircare brand. You could create dos and don’ts videos, teach your audience about ingredients and show them a sample treatment routine.
Many creators already use Instagram Stories to give their followers a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes workings of their business, but Reels could easily be another quiver in your bow. Reels lends itself very easily to humor thanks to the lip-syncing feature, so there are definite opportunities there.
Showing your audience behind the scenes content lets them see a “realer” side to the glossy perfection of your grid. Interestingly, Instagram users often say that they like raw, “real” images but the truth is that the carefully curated ones always triumph in terms of engagement. This is where Reels comes in – it’s a chance to show your audience a more relatable side of your brand.
Devising a fun new viral challenge is an amazing way to boost your engagement. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just creative. It could be a dance, sharing your favorite products or storytelling. The possibilities are endless!
Before a launch, you could use Reels to offer a sneak peak at what’s to come. Again, Stories are great for this but they only last for 24-hours. Reels have a longer shelf-life and help you to reach new users who aren’t already following you.
If you’re a vlogger, Reels are a great way to lure in new viewers. You can tease your videos by posting short snippets on Instagram Reels. Once you’ve got the users’ attention, you can direct them towards the link in your bio to watch the full video with a call to action at the end of the clip.
Posting funny, relatable sketches is a surefire way to get audiences to connect with you. It’s a good way to position yourself as a relatable figure who just “gets it.”
So now you’re ready to get out there and start Reel-ing in your new followers. Remember that although Reels is undeniably similar to TikTok, this isn’t a one-or-the-other scenario. Establishing a presence on as many social media platforms as possible can only be a good thing for your business, and you can repurpose TikTok and Reels content very easily.
Now that you’re a video-sharing whiz, why not check out my article on blogging for profit?
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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