t seems like every few months, Instagram is adding a new feature to adapt to the fast-paced and innovative world we live in today. The social media powerhouse’s latest? Instagram Reels (aka TikTok’s next competitor.) If your head is spinning, we got ya. Our Ultimate Guide on How Your Brand Can Use Instagram Reels will go over five ways you can make the most out of Insta’s new feature and highlight brands that are already killing the Instagram Reels Game.
But real quick, let’s cover the basics. The 15-second short-form video feature was introduced to the U.S. this past August and boasts many of the same things TikTok users love about the platform. The feature within Instagram allows users to create short videos with audio effects, a countdown timer, and tools to slow up or speed down your clips while also adding in original AR and Stories effects (sound familiar yet?)
If you’re thinking about just sticking with creating Stories then you’ll be missing out on growing your brand’s reach in a major way, as trending Reels appear at the top of Instagram’s Explore page (like TikTok’s For You page.) Unlike Stories, which users have to actively follow or go to your account page to see, Reels will show up regardless and brands can easily share them as Highlights or on their main feeds. Users can also easily find Reels on brands’ account pages under the clapboard icon and spend minutes looking at just their videos.
And in light of the very uncertain future of TikTok, it’s a smart move to start looking to new platforms that capture the attention of Gen Zers and other young target audiences. Reels, like TikTok, taps into social media users’ penchant for endless scrolling.
Speaking of scrolling — keep reading to find out five ways brands have already been using Reels to increase brand awareness, creatively engage their existing followers, and reel in new audiences.
5 Ways Your Brand Can Use Reels
The key to creating any content that catches the attention of social media users is to stand out and appeal to their emotions. Here are five ways we’ve seen brands use Reels and how your brand can create content that sees the same amount of engagement (views in the millions, comments in the thousands; sound like something you’re interested in?)
Use Reels to build excitement for your brand and the products or services it offers. Netflix is a prime example.
The popular streaming platform uses Reels to promote Netflix’s selection of movies and series’ and to tease new seasons or shows. Some of its Reels feature short clips from its Netflix Originals such as “Never Have I Ever” and “Outer Banks” with funny and relatable captions.
Its most recent Reel took advantage of the feature’s short time limit and used quick cuts and clever editing to engage viewers. With the caption “oh, did you drop this title?” The video took short clips of characters saying the titles of the series as a creative advertisement for well-known content the platform offers. The post has thousands of comments from fans and newcomers alike who praised their favorite shows while also discussing those they wished Netflix would save.
While people go to Instagram to be entertained, recent studies show that a growing percentage of users (roughly ⅓) are looking to the platform to stay up to date on current events and the news. Instagram Reels is a way to create short and captivating content that informs your viewers and draws them into your brand’s page to learn more about an article, a cause, or what you’re offering.
National Geographic uses Reels to create visually appealing content to highlight some of the media company’s longer content. Known for its curated feed of breathtaking photos of people and places around the world, its Reels videos are also gaining traction with some getting over 20 million views.
This Reel has over 21.2 million views, 516, 000 views, and 3,000 comments, and combines compelling audio with creative visualization to inform viewers about “Into the Canyon,” an Emmy-nominated documentary created for the National Geographic network.
While you may traditionally think Instagram is only for aesthetic photos, much of the younger generation is turning to the platform for information and news. Make your brand their go-to choice for the news they want to see.
Every marketer knows the importance of Instagram in generating leads and promoting new products. In fact, 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products through the platform and your brand can use Reels to increase the chances you’ll be a part of that majority.
Luxury fashion brand, Louis Vuitton, recently used Reels to create a series of videos that use cutting-edge editing techniques to promote their new product line. Short clips of different models dressed in the brand’s clothing seemingly summon phones back to their hand as a camera pans up, showcasing the whole outfit in a visually creative way. The first time we saw it, we said, “woah.”
Using the full arsenal of Reels’ editing tools is a great way to make your content stand out from the hundreds of other videos. Play around with different effects, angles, and reflections like Louis Vuitton, to immediately capture a viewer’s attention and get them to watch your entire Reel again and again.
Take a note from TikTok and begin your own challenges on Instagram Reels. Not only are these a fun way to get viewers to actively engage with your brand, but challenges create a cycle of content that will increase the likelihood that your original post will end up on the Explore page.
Personal care and beauty store, Sephora, partnered with YouTuber and influencer Ryan Potter to create a special makeup challenge that currently has over 2 million views. Simple, yet creative, Potter asked viewers to use a colorful eyeshadow palette and count the number of shades it had and label them. Then, viewers were instructed to put that number into a random number generator and generate five numbers which would then be used to create a look.
Sephora’s Reel works well in two ways: One, it partners with a well-known makeup artist and viewers immediately associate Potter with Sephora and its products. Two, the Reel makes audiences wait until the end to see Potter’s makeup look. Creating challenges like this for your brand will tap into your audience’s competitive spirit and love of influencers while also promoting your products or services.
The power of Instagram Reels lies in the fact that you can reach users who don’t follow you. But in order to make your brand’s voice heard, you need to make sure your content plays to your target audience’s emotional interests.
A prime example of a company that has built its brand around a feeling is Red Bull. Using its slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings” and sponsoring athletes who engage in adrenaline-pumping activities, the energy drink company uses its social media feeds to appeal to viewers who also enjoy the feeling those kinds of activities bring.
So far, Red Bull has published Reels that have more than 1 million views and hundreds of comments. One of its videos encourages users to post Reels of themselves doing backflips with the hashtag #REDBULLKEEPITREELS for a chance to be featured on the brand’s page. The Red Bull page followed through three weeks ago and posted an Instagram Highlight that featured seven of those videos.
Playing into the wow factor, like Red Bull’s many videos showing its athletes performing crazy stunts, is a great way for your brand to get Intagrammers’ attention while they’re scrolling through Reels. Even if your Reel doesn’t explicitly feature your brand, generating excitement around a feeling aligned with your brand is highly effective if Red Bull’s millions of views are any indicator.
Though modeled after TikTok, Instagram Reels stands on its own as a multifunctional feature that can help engage audiences beyond your brand’s followers and generate massive leads. Marketers should take advantage of Reels’ many editing tools to create content that excites and informs viewers, while also promoting new services or products and appealing to the emotional interest of those new to your brand.
Companies that have already started using Reels are seeing success with views in the millions as their content gets in front of the platform’s over 500 million daily viewers. They also have the advantage of being a few of the first brands using the feature and have less competition when trying to get their content to appear on the general Reels page.
Still not convinced? Another advantage of using Reels over TikTok is that all of your brand’s content is in one place and users can easily find your page to learn more about your company, visit your website, and fully engage with you and other users on the platform. That is a major benefit over creating an entirely new TikTok page for your brand, though, we do suggest that too.
Ready? Set? Get Reelin’