November 26, 2020 inMarketing

5 strategies to start using Instagram Reels for marketing campaigns

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Why digital marketers are flocking to Instagram’s new tool

Instagram made a big play in bite-sized video content in August, rolling out Reels in the same year the app turned 10 and celebrated 1 billion active monthly users.

Reels is new a tool for creators to share 15-second clips with music and AR effects. If that sounds similar to TikTok, it’s because it is: after TikTok rocketed past 1 billion users in just 18 months, Instagram Reels appeared with many of the same features.

So, while the feature isn’t exactly groundbreaking in its originality, it does house engagement opportunities in the same ecosystem as Instagram and the platform’s parent company Facebook.

Reels isn’t the first TikTok competitor from Facebook

Creators and influencers can use Reels to engage users with short, entertaining content – but will it pass muster with marketers?

We think so. And it won’t make much difference whether TikTok is banned in the US or not. With the Facebook family’s endless resources, global reach, and familiarity for creators and users alike, it’s inevitable Instagram reels will be a digital marketing golden child unlike previous offerings (remember Lasso?).

Using Instagram Reels for marketing campaigns

Unlike stories and sponsored content, Reels doesn’t support advertising. Instead published Reels show up to the 200 million active daily users who visit the Explore page, and often appear in people’s timelines as a suggested diversion from endless scrolling.

Instagram’s algorithm helps to garner an audience, using behavioural data to suggest accounts users might want to follow.

So, while you can’t pay to be put in front of your audience, you can use Reels to reel them in. Here are 5 tips to make Instagram Reels part of your marketing strategy.

1. Use the tools available

Getting familiar with Reels

Instagram has an entire Creators section that walks through the content journey. Before running wild with Reels, do a deep-dive into the tools and guides to understand how the features work, when to use Reels compared to IGTV or Stories, and how to monitor brand engagement in the app.

Making your first Reel

Creating a Reel is easy. Creating an entertaining Reel is not. Assess how competing and contemporary brands are using the platform to understand what does and doesn’t work.

When you’re ready to launch (after reading tips 2-5) use the built-in creator tools like audio overlays, editing, AR effects and speed manipulation to help create an engaging Reel.

2. Plan consistent content

It helps to map out a storyboard before jumping feet-first into Reels. Remember you can upload existing video content to stitch a 15-second clip together, so you’re not forced to film in-platform. Use this to your advantage by upping your content creation game, so by the time your Reels go live, you have all the pieces in place:

  • High quality video content
  • An entertaining clip between 3 and 15 seconds
  • Authentic brand messaging
  • Strategic links between Reels and digital marketing campaigns
  • Content for single and ongoing engagements

Like any marketing activity, maintaining momentum relies on a steady stream of diverse content. Of course, that content should be clearly recognisable as belonging to your brand.

3. Stay on brand

Reels can be fun, educational, whimsical or merely a way to waste time in 15-second increments. All those use cases (yes, all) are valid, provided they align to the brand and broader digital marketing campaign.

Using a feature like Reels might require a mindset shift for some marketers. While TikTok is more popular with Gen Z, by its positioning under the Instagram brand, Reels is appealing to a big millennial user base.

Consider how this insight could inform your digital marketing campaign planning. For example, by creating fun supplementary content to support a slick paid Instagram campaign.

4. Embrace the ecosystem

To extend #3 a little further, consider how Reels fits into a multi-platform campaign. Facebook owns Instagram and everything therein, meaning paid campaigns can span from Facebook timeline ads to Messenger chatbots, sponsored Instagram stories to authentic engagement with Reels.

User insight is critical here.

  • How are your users engaging with your brand across those different platforms?
  • What gap can Instagram Reels address in your digital marketing?
  • How much of the budget can you allocate to Reels?
  • Can you leverage insights from previous Instagram and Facebook campaigns?
  • What stage of the funnel is Reels content addressing?

Good data is the fundamental foundation before embarking on a Reels content creation spree. If you are spending hours compiling data across different platforms, check out how Mediatool features streamline the process into a single end-to-end digital marketing platform.

5. Be realistic about Reels’ impact on digital marketing

There’s a reason Instagram Reels is such a popular feature with creators. The ready-made audience and straightforward creation tools present lower the entry barrier, while users are accustomed to Instagram rolling out new content platforms-with-a-platform.

However, there are two sticking points to remember:

  1. Reels doesn’t support paid content – yet
  2. Users can sniff out ingenuine branded content instantly

Instagram Reels may not be a digital marketing revolution. But with a solid user base, high engagement, and endless creative branding opportunities, Reels is undoubtedly a valuable tool to earn more share of voice in a crowded market.

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