Last week, we took a look at TikTok, the new social media platform that’s been sweeping the nation and the world.
With 800 million users on TikTok, it should come as no surprise that Facebook didn’t want to let this new craze pass them by without profiting off of it.
Facebook’s answer? Instagram Reels.
With Instagram Reels, Facebook used the same strategy that led to Instagram and Facebook stories: take a successful feature from another social media platform, tweak it a little, and add it onto your own platform.
By doing so, Facebook has introduced the winning TikTok formula to the millions of users on Instagram. And quite frankly: it’s a hit!
In this guide, we’re going to give you the lowdown on Instagram Reels and how you can use them to market your business. We’ll give you a few ideas to get you going, provide you with some Instagram Reels examples, and provide some insight into how you can roll out this new part of your social media strategy.
What Are Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels are short, loopable 15-to-30-second videos that frequently make use of Instagram’s built-in AR, video, and audio effects. Typically, Instagram Reels are set to music that can be chosen from within the Reels video editor.
These videos can be shared through Instagram Stories, the Explore feed, and the new Reels tab on Instagram Profiles.
Essentially, it’s TikTok on Instagram. Reels even has its own version of TikTok’s “For You” page, where users can scroll through Instagram Reels exclusively. In fact, a lot of Instagram Reels are just TikToks reposted to Instagram.
Instagram appears to be making a big push for Reels and is even considering replacing the square plus button at the bottom of Instagram with a new Reels logo button. This would solidify Reels as a core feature of Instagram and make proper usage of Reels essential to a solid Instagram marketing strategy.
Examples of Instagram Reels
But enough talk — let’s see some real-world Instagram Reels examples.
Here are a few Reels that are from creators, not brands. These should give you an idea of what type of content is popular.
- if people did everything in a rush.
- The most adorable thing you’ll see today
- When mom says “Don’t you dare buy a puppy”
As you can tell, a lot of Reels content is set to music, whether they’re how-to videos, comedy, or something else entirely.
Now, let’s look at a few examples from businesses.
From this batch, you can likely gather that brands follow a pretty similar format but with a focus on some aspect of their businesses.
How to Create Instagram Reels
Creating your first Reel is pretty straightforward, although making good reels is a skill that will take time to master.
You can start your Reel by opening the Instagram camera and selecting “Reels.”
On the left side, you’ll see options that allow you to add audio, change the speed, and add effects. You can also set a timer and countdown so that you can record your video hands-free.
Once you’ve recorded your video and added your effects, you can give it a caption and share it to your Reels page or Story. You can also save it as a draft to post at a later time.
Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
One of the big questions on everyone’s minds regarding Reels is how it compares to TikTok, and whether there’s a different use case for each.
Overall, Reels and TikTok are almost exactly the same. The difference, however, lies in the audience that each of them reaches, the type of content that works best, and the algorithm that drives content discovery.
Instagram serves a fairly young crowd, but it’s slightly shifted compared to Instagram. Instagram is most popular among the 18-24 demographic, but it doesn’t drop off as drastically after that. There is still a healthy number of people aged 35-44 on the platform. Beyond that, you start to see a more marked decrease in usage.
If your business serves the younger part of Gen Z, then TikTok will have a better chance of hitting your target audience on the nose.
Instagram, however, has a broader reach and a greater number of users aged 24+. If you want to reach this audience, Instagram is likely the better choice (for now).
As a new player in the social media game, TikTok is still largely free of big corporations. While TikTok for Business is gaining popularity, there are still quite a few major multinational corporations that have yet to establish a presence on the app. Examples of household names that have parked TikTok accounts but haven’t posted yet include Toyota and Ford.
Because of this, TikTok has maintained a very casual and personable atmosphere. Even marketing content typically retains a feeling of authenticity.
Instagram, however, is no stranger to enterprise advertisers. As a result, Instagram users may not be as put off by content that is more blatant advertising — it’s simply to be expected at this point.
Additionally, since Reels are still part of Instagram, you should maintain more consistency between your regular Instagram posts and your Reels. While brands are advised to almost completely reinvent themselves for TikTok, this type of reimagining is not necessary on Instagram.
While some brands repost their TikTok content as Reels, this isn’t always a smart move. Sometimes, the content is simply too different and would negatively affect the branding of each profile.
An interesting case study is the Washington Post. While it has a healthy following on TikTok, it doesn’t post any of its TikToks as Instagram Reels — the vibe is just too different. For reference, here’s what a typical Instagram Post from the Washington Post looks like:
And here’s a typical TikTok post:
The Washington Post made a smart decision to leave its TikToks off Instagram, which has a more serious tone. This also evidences the demographics split, as its TikToks are clearly directed at a younger crowd than its Instagram posts.
Part of what skyrocketed TikTok to success is that its algorithm doesn’t directly take a profile’s number of followers into account when deciding what content to serve up. This gives brand new users a chance to go viral with even their first post on the platform.
Instagram, on the other hand, implements a more traditional algorithm for its feed, so popular accounts will have a better chance of showing up in Explore.
Tips for Instagram Reels
Most of the tips we covered in our TikTok guide still apply to Instagram Reels, so if you haven’t already, be sure to check it out.
Here are a few that are specific to Instagram.
While Instagram Reels is more “fun-oriented” than the rest of the platform, your Reels content is still going to show up somewhere on your Instagram profile. Because of that, you should make sure that there’s a degree of consistency across your entire profile, from your regular posts to your Reels.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with new types of posts, but it does mean that you should experiment within certain bounds. As long as your branding and tone match the rest of your Instagram, you should be in the safe zone.
That said, Instagram Reels is such a new feature that we may see this change over time. If your metrics are telling you that consistency isn’t important for your brand in particular, don’t be afraid to break this rule.
Keep Your Audience in Mind
Instagram’s demographics skew older than TikTok, and you should stay mindful of that when creating Reels. While content you post on TikTok will almost exclusively reach the 13-24 age group, your Instagram content will more likely be seen by people aged 18-44. Make sure your Reels stay relevant to them or else you could risk alienating people in that age range.
There Are No Ads on Reels
Instagram hasn’t rolled out ads for Reels…yet. While there’s little doubt this will happen eventually, Reels is currently ad-free. This signifies that Reels hasn’t come into its own as a marketing channel yet, and you need to stay mindful of your audience’s expectations when opening up Reels — they expect fun entertainment, not ads.
Instagram Reels is an exciting new platform that brings the fun and quirky features of TikTok to Instagram.
However, while their feature sets are pretty much identical, the platforms differ in significant ways, and brands need to be aware of the differences. When creating content for Instagram Reels, make sure you maintain consistency and keep your audience’s demographics and expectations in mind.