Adam Mosseri, Instagram chief, concludes 2021 with the announcement to focus on Reels even more as key areas of growth to maximize the engagement. In a video post on his channel he states: “We’re going to double-down on our focus on video and consolidate all of our video formats around Reels.” With the broader consumer shift towards short-form video, Instagram is struggling to keep up with competitor TikTok.
We have already been observing the merge of Instagram’s video formats back in October 2021, and since then the platform has been automatically defaulting shorter videos into Reels clips to expand the reach and exposure. Rumor in the industry has it that Instagram will eventually move away from the traditional stream of still posts on the feed and open a full-screen Reels/Stories feed. Therefore and without further ado, we present you six pro-tips on how Marketers and brands can increase their engagement through Reels.
Think of creative storytelling
This sounds more than obvious, but brands and Influencers need to put in effort to create their Reels. Although the videos are normally around 15-seconds it takes advisedly planning to produce. Start with creating a storyboard concept, as it goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Naturally you want to ask the following questions:
- What topic makes the most sense for your business or brand (fashion, styling, food, wellness)?
- How can your Reels be cohesive with your previous feed posts and stories?
- What audience do you want to target and what kind of content speaks to your audience?
As we know, Reels is designed to be watched vertically. So, this is just a little reminder, to film your videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16, and with a size of 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels.
Use on-screen texts and captions
Looking at Instagram Reels’ algorithm, it’s best to create original content. Instagram does indeed deprioritze content that is low-quality video content or visibly recycled from other apps (such as TikTok). So, make sure to remove the TikTok watermark, if you do reuse the content.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to shoot and edit everything within the app. You can use a third-party app. Especially beginner-friendly are: Splice, InShot, Videoleap, Beatleap. For the algorithm to accurately categorize your content, add on-screen text, captions, voiceovers, and audio in Instagram after you’ve uploaded your edit. Not only because your brand’s content might be viewed with the sound off, but also to include people who are hearing impaired or can’t actually listen to what you’re saying. Instagram even allows you to add the captions sticker to your stories and your Reels.
Don’t forget that Reels can be accessed and watched from the In-Feed view as well as the “Reels” tab. Therefore it’s crucial to place your text in the middle of your video, so that either way it won’t be cut off.
Include a CTAs and shoppable content
One of the advantages of social media is that it brings people together. Consequently, embracing a conversation and engaging with your followers mustn’t be neglected. Surely, as your Instagram presence grows, answering every single comment will diminish over time. However, try to go through comments and questions as much as possible.
Always a good idea to get a conversation going is with a CTA, call to action. Ask questions so that your followers feel compelled to reply and continue to talk to you and one another.
Another way to use Instagram Reels is to present your products, services, or shows, as short-form videos offer a great opportunity to get your audience excited.
Choose a Custom Reels Thumbnail and recognizable elements
The Reel Thumbnail is the still shot that will be seen on your profile as a preview to your video content. When you create a new Instagram reel, you can either select a custom image or choose a frame from within your video. To make sure your content stands out, design a little template that fits your brand identity. This way, you create a cohesive, branded look for your profile.
Keep in mind that your thumbnails are not shown in the Explore feed. However, it’s worth the effort, because people that visit your profile can find videos of interest easier and immediately get a sense of your content.
A great example for a custom Reels thumbnail with recognizable features, check out Mon (thesocialista_) who also offers a Reels and video marketing course. She uses the same font and colors to stand out.
Post new content consistently
This tip comes almost without saying, but as important as it is to have a coherent brand identity, it is important to post with consistency. Show up and show up often, be present! This becomes even more pressing, as Instagram is further pushing the feature as explained before.
At Kolsquare, we have great ideas for your next Instagram real to engage with your audience: Tips, Tutorials, and other educational content is a great way to get your followers attention. Even though 15 seconds is not long, the art of Instagram Reels is to express something briefly and understandably. Furthermore, start a new challenge. As TikTok challenges are one of the most engaging aspects of the platform, it obviously makes sense to transform this success to Instagram Reels in order to gain exposure. Clearly, we know about the benefits of teaming up with Influencers, so this also applies for Instagram Reels.
Be aware of the trends and make them work for you
As marketers, we all have to keep up with the fast moving world of social media. What went viral yesterday, might be outdated today. Thus, you need to stay aware of the elements that are currently trending, such as songs or challenges. You need to keep a close eye on what the public is reacting to at the moment.
Clearly, it must be your audience or target group that you want to observe. Using trends only makes sense when they fit within your category or theme. This also includes knowing your peak viewing time to ensure a higher engagement rate.
Some current trends are: “Summer on My Mind” is an easy background track for photo and video montages, throwbacks, recipes, or product highlights that gives you chill summer vibes. See the video below to get a sense of it. In addition, “Hidden Talent” is about showing the before and after of e.g. photo edits, art projects, recipes, or home renovations. “Right Down The Line” might be triggered by Euphoria, but this laid back guitar track is typically used to accompany an atmospheric montage of video clips at the moment.