How Brands Can Leverage Instagram Reels

Haley Durkee
January 12, 2021

The launch of Instagram Reels last summer was an exciting moment for creators and followers alike. It immediately sparked the question: could this be used for brand initiatives? And how would the mechanics of the feature impact content creation? Dash Hudson sat down with Instagram’s Lauren Kohli, business marketing (Stories and Reels), and Juliana Constantino, creative product lead, to find out more.

An Unparalleled Opportunity for Discovery

Before brands get started with Reels, it’s important to understand exactly who they’re reaching and at which level of the funnel. This isn’t a tool for deep conversations with your most loyal followers—these short clips are optimized to reach audiences in a discovery mindset with a unique algorithm that serves content to those most likely to appreciate it (based on user interest, previously liked posts, popular and trending content, and locale).

Furthermore, Reels extends beyond your bubble of followers through a dedicated Reels tab, as well as the Explore page. In short: if you prioritize awareness and views, choose Instagram Reels.

Expert Content Creation Tools at Your Fingertips

Marketers can plan, capture, edit, enhance, and share content all within the Instagram app. Though many social media professionals create posts externally, Reels is designed specifically to be a helpful tool for creation, as well as distribution. Brands have the ability to leverage augmented reality (AR) features, like branded AR filters from Facebook’s Spark AR studio, as well as:

  • Speed adjustments
  • Timer for hands-free recording
  • Timed text and stickers
  • Align tool for custom edits

Sound On

Reels is the ideal space to marry visuals and sound for an immersive campaign experience. The tab defaults with sound on and most users prioritize watching with sound, so marketers need to keep audio in mind from the beginning of the ideation process. In fact, sound often informs the visuals (consider sound the hashtag of the Reels world). Music is a key component but brands don’t necessarily need to focus on popular hits—Reels offers several opportunities to get creative with sound, including repurposing original audio from trending videos, or royalty-free tracks from the Facebook sound collection.

Partnerships and Products

Tap into the unique entertainment style of creators on the platform and easily indicate a paid partnership with branded content tags. Brands can benefit from partners’ authentic voices in the Reels space and reach new audiences primed to convert with a referral from this trusted source. All sellers, with or without the checkout function, as well as eligible creators, can tag products in Reels. Encourage people to shop your products using shopping tags or drive them to your link in bio. Competitions and challenges are also an effective option for partnership content and a great way to put your brand signature on the latest trends.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

Ultimately, brands leveraging Reels should tie their strategies back to a goal. Whether you want to entertain, inspire, or get the word out about a product, consider how you can invite your audience to participate and make it easy for your community to recreate. Keep it simple, post often, and pay attention to what consumers are already interacting with. Your call to action should be as fun as it is straightforward. Remember: a laugh can go a long way. Add value for your audience and watch your ROI soar.

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