TikTok’s popularity as an entertainment and advertising venue continues to rise, with many enterprise marketers naming it the number two app for influencer marketing. However, Instagram still has tricks up its sleeve, particularly since last summer’s launch of Reels, a comparable short video sharing feature built directly into the app.
By: Justin Kline
Many brands have stronger engagement rates and established presences on Instagram than they do on TikTok, making Reels a worthwhile investment. It’s hard to know how competition between social media apps will net out, but in the meantime, brands already using Instagram can follow a few steps to boost ROI, customer loyalty, and awareness in new and creative ways using Reels.
- Ride the Algorithm with Original Content
Today, the same piece of viral content can migrate from app to app. Cross-posting is a useful strategy for maintaining consistent messaging across distributed audiences but understanding a particular platform’s inner workings can help you create a bigger impact.
The Reels algorithm favors content that’s original to the app. Videos with watermarks from other sites will be limited in their reach on Reels. If you want your posts to be promoted organically to new audiences on their feed, give yourself an advantage by creating new content. You don’t need to stray outside planned campaign messaging and imagery to do this, either. Tweak your script, audio, and calls to action to cater the video to the Reels audience. Influencers can come in handy during these efforts. Creative takes on your message will result in more unique pieces of content boosted across Reels in tandem with your branded posts.
- Cater to What’s Popular
As Reels became a viable channel for creators and advertisers, Instagram rolled out features to make content creation even easier right in the app. What’s popular can change quickly so if you’re hoping to ride the wave of a trend, use the app to find and assess opportunities.
With audio search functionality on Instagram, users can see what songs, sounds, and voice-overs are being used most at a given moment, view examples of content that includes that audio and even save it to create their own video. With Reels content, audio often makes the difference between a video flopping or taking off so brands and influencers should always keep an eye on what’s trending to see if popular tracks can be woven into existing or planned campaigns.
- Interact and Drive Participation
Instagram and Reels have an advantage over TikTok for many brands with visibility and audience size. Many brands have spent years cultivating their following on Instagram and these users are already a captive audience for any Reel you post.
Instagram boosts Reels videos with high engagement. If you’re rolling out a trendy Reel featuring a product challenge, make it one users can easily replicate. Not only does that increase visibility organically, it will give your original post a boost when the algorithm identifies it as one that’s driving responses and participation.
Another feature to consider is Reels Remix, which allows followers to create a split screen reaction video with a piece of your content. When enabled, it’s even easier for a user to participate in a challenge or provide a brand review, all while keeping your original post visible to their followers.
- Analyze and Adjust
Heightened competition between TikTok, Reels, and other apps indicates that these platforms will continue to alter their offerings in search of an edge over one another. When planning social content and influencer campaigns, you can’t always turn on a dime. However, you can keep a close eye on performance. This is particularly important on an app like Reels, where algorithmic changes could subtly impact your results. By closely reviewing shifts in engagement, clicks and follows, you might be able to identify how the app is reacting to your content and make adjustments to better position your campaigns for success.
New tools like Reels also introduce new metrics, such as time spent watching. Instagram will serve a user similar Reels if it finds they’ve watched one all the way through — regardless of liking, sharing, or commenting on the post. Are followers watching your entire clip or scrolling on? If you’re noticing a drop off in time spent watching, it might be time to work with your creative team and influencers to find ways to make videos more engaging so followers won’t scroll away.
It’s an exciting time for social media innovation, with apps focused on retaining users, creatives, and advertisers with impactful new features. Brands must keep a watchful eye on new offerings that can elevate results, improve customer interactions, and boost positive brand awareness. Reels offers brands novel, engaging features aimed at an audience they’ve already captured. It can be a slam dunk addition to a marketing campaign for those willing to invest in it.
Justin Kline is Co-founder of Markerly, an influencer marketing technology partner and agency working with some of the largest consumer brands and advertising agencies in the world.