All That You Wanted To Know About Instagram Reels. But Were Too Afraid To Ask!
Girl put your records on, tell me your favourite song…
Ice on my neck that’s incoming, I’m a pretty boy, I’m stunning…
’Cause I-I-I’m in the stars tonight, so watch me bring the fire and set the net alight…
Did any of the above lyrics sound familiar to you? If not…then we’ve got some news. It means you’ve not been keeping up with the viral trends of TikTok for the past year. All of which have now somersaulted and landed onto Instagram REELS.
Surely, you’ve heard of REELS? No? What about the little video button that replaced the search option on your app? Don’t worry, Instagram newbies. We’ve got you. So, sit back, relax, and take some notes. Because these are the newest ways for Instagram’s algorithm to make content gain engagement.
Instagram and its Spooky Algorithm
Completely in-tune with Halloween, Facebook and Instagram changed their algorithms to send us shrieking in fear. No, we’re just joking. October-November is the season for new tech-reveal; and the Facebook-Instagram duo decided to go all out with some interesting features. But what do they mean?
For one, the old Publishing Tools of Facebook have now been combined into one Business Suite. That means controlling both platforms’ ads, contents, and analytics from the same page. And…dun, dun, dun…scheduling Instagram posts. Moreover, now you can use Facebook Messenger from within Instagram.
But that’s not all Instagram has done. Influencers who were once getting 200,000+ views in an hour are now barely breaking 10,000. Meanwhile, a personal account with an average engagement of 20–30 managed 1200 views in ten hours. How?
Algorithm. All social media apps now use algorithms to try and decide what content is relevant for a users’ feed (akin to how YouTube starts showing you suggested videos based on viewing patterns).
As someone trying to break into Instagram here’s what you need to know: Instagram is rewarding fresh, visual content. This means three things. Reels. Stories. IGTV. Don’t know what any of that means? Keep reading!
Reels, Schmeels. Stories? IGTV?
Let’s first get the difference between the different types of video content that one can post on Instagram. The most basic feature is the regular post. A regular post allows 1-minute videos (if put in a carousel, 10-minutes total) to be posted on someone’s page. Functioning similar to a photo post, it engages with the audience in the same way.
In 2016, stories were adopted by Instagram (initially a feature known mostly to millennials from the chat-app Snapchat). The idea was to share snippets in bursts. 15-second videos on the go of how your day is going. Over time, these stories became a medium for people to share their thoughts, updates, and more interests. So much so that Instagram added interesting filters, text options, gifs, and even the opportunity to ‘Swipe up’ and visit a link.
Today, stories are filled with the ability to take questions, polls, do live streams, opinions, share discourse, and more. The one drawback? Stories only exist for 24 hours. For which, Instagram found a different solution. Highlights. Highlight tabs on a user profile would become a chance for people to save memorable stories — and they were a godsend for small businesses. A convenient spot to post shop information, product catalogues, FAQs, and more!
Seeing the growing popularity of consumable content, Instagram then introduced IGTV. Functioning much like — well, a TV — it allowed creators to share longer videos (of up to 1 hour). This opened doors for businesses to conduct interviews, have edited and well shot footage, and more content be uploaded.
Now, in 2020, Instagram decided to birth the baby of stories and IGTV (and possible replacement for TikTok). Reels. Between 15–20 seconds, they stay long on your page, but short enough to remain engaging. And they have endless scroll-like channels. And no, they’re more than just a meme. You’ve now got brands getting in on the memes and using them to promote products (especially influencers and solopreneurs). And with that, the algorithm’s love for reels has boosted reel-creators to the top of everyone’s page.
Highlights vs IGTV vs Reel
So, which one do you choose? It might be difficult to gauge. But the purpose decides exactly what medium you choose. Much the same way that you intuitively know when to text, call, video-chat, email, or visit — learning the right tool for social media apps is fairly intuitive, too.
Take, for instance, a doctor who runs an independent practice. Her posts could be about her day at the clinic and videos of her life. Her stories would be her sharing behind the scenes of her day, humanising her life. Her Instagram LIVES would be Q&A sessions, which she can then post as a highlight reel or an IGTV for people to come back and see. She could do a special episode on — say — cardiac health and upload it on IGTV. And if she’s feeling daring, she can get in on the latest meme and make a reel, using funky trending music and dances to let people know how to take care of themselves.
The possibilities are endless. Business, individuals, everyone is getting in on reels . But reels look like they’re here to stay for the long run. So, our recommendation? Browse them. Learn them. Understand how the content works. Because you’ll know exactly what you need to post to get those engagement numbers rolling in.
Creating the Right Content for the Right Platform
Sometimes, it can feel daunting stepping into a new platform. Being told “Hey, do reels. Hey, make an IGTV video,” is scary. That’s why we’re not YOUR managers. We’re the SOCIAL MEDIA managers so that you don’t have to get hassled. We do the experimenting, the strategy, the ideating. We learn your business and figure out if you need a story today or a Reel tomorrow. We learn what’s working so we can help you.
Oftentimes, balance needs to be found. You might have a content idea, and we can help you figure out which is the best way to give it the attention it needs. And, vice versa, knowing your brand will help us give YOU ideas on how to create content for channels that need to be harnessed, a.k.a, Reels and IGTV.
A dual job. A team effort. And that’s the true story to organic Instagram growth. Knowing the algorithm, and making it play in your favour. These mind games and code rules might seem confusing. But Instagram is far from the photo album it started with.
It’s an actual marketing space. With the amount of fake followers and influencers cropping up every single day, Instagram is finding ways to reward amusing content that is authentic.
So, worry not, little soldier. Your page will grow. Like the tortoise it’ll grow, and it will grow with meaningful engagement. And we’re here along the way, to take the slow and steady journey.
Ping us if you would like S4 to handle your IG account. Tell stories and weave reels about your brand. firstname.lastname@example.org