Announced in August 2020, Instagram Reels is one of the hottest new post formats in the leading visual social platform. Reels works a lot like TikTok — you can whip up short (up to 30 seconds) clips, match them up to music, add effects, and directly share them on Instagram where they appear in the main newsfeed, profile pages, and on the Explore page.
Many businesses are already using Reels to amp up their Insta game, realizing better audience engagement, greater brand awareness, and the potential to even go viral on the platform. So it’s definitely worth a shot in your social media marketing strategy.
But as with all great marketing opportunities, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to using Reels. However, there are some tried-and-true ways to start leveraging this new feature to grow your brand.
1. Give Your Audience a Peek Behind-the-Scenes
Instagram Reels, due to their short 30-second format, are ideal to connect with your audience on a more personal level. And one of the best ways to do just that is by giving your audience a quick peek behind your brand’s curtains.
Say, if you run a local pizzeria, your audience already knows that your pizzas are a feast for the eyes — thanks to your regular Instagram posts and stories. But do they know all the hard work that goes into making and delivering your pizzas? Reels is the perfect platform to show them.
For example, Dubsado, an all-in-one business management tool, shares all the love they put into their welcome packets in a behind-the-scenes Reel.
Along similar lines, a “day in the life” Reel is an excellent way to give customers an inside look into your company’s work culture, highlight the efforts of your team members, and can also be helpful in demonstrating how a product fits into a customer’s daily routine (more on this later).
The best part is that as it’s just a 15-30 second clip, you don’t have to plan extensively or make elaborate edits.
This type of content makes your audience empathize with your business and thus, helps form a more “human” connection with your brand. Not to mention it’s a great way to evince your authenticity, and simultaneously get people excited about your products.
2. Share User-Generated Content
The biggest selling point of Instagram Reels for brands is how it facilitates authenticity. Your audience doesn’t just want product promotions shoved at their faces, they want to know your brand and its community.
As described earlier, behind-the-scenes reels are one way to boost authenticity. Another great way is to leverage user-generated content.
User-generated content gets your audience involved, so you’ll benefit from:
- Great authentic content sourced from actual customers
- Higher engagement rates as those customers will reshare the reels you post, which automatically boosts your brand’s reach
So how do you encourage user-generated content?
You can start by partnering up with micro-influencers to create mini videos for you where they use your products or services. If you have fan-submitted photos, turn them into a quick slideshow Reel.
Another way is to host a hashtag contest, wherein you invite people to post short clips of your product in use and tag your brand. Reward participants with the best or most high-performing content.
A hashtag contest serves as an incentive for customers to publicly praise your brand, which boosts your brand’s all-important social proof.
As seen in the above example, after international skating instructor FlowSkate tagged video creation app Beatleap by Lightricks in a Reel that drew 1,400 views, Beatleap reposted the Reel as a great example of UGC made with their product, attracting another 11,000 views.
Because Beatleap is built to make editing videos like these easy, allowing social media creators to automatically sync footage to the flow of contemporary music clips, the app’s Instagram account wisely showcases and amplifies great UGC Reels regularly.
3. Educate Your Audience With Quick How-To’s
Besides displaying your authenticity, Instagram Reels are also a perfect avenue to showcase your brand’s authority, while also providing value that will keep them coming back for more.
That is, give customers a quick step-by-step guide on how to do something awesome with your product. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your business, either. In the pizzeria example above, you can demonstrate a quick-and-easy way to make delicious pizzas at home.
Tackle potential questions ahead of time with FAQ-style reels. Share bite-sized but valuable information that helps your audience in buying decisions. Oh, and add a touch of humor.
Use the Q&A sticker in your Instagram Stories to gather questions, then answer them in Reels. Encourage feedback in the Reels comments and ask your followers what they’d like to see next.
In doing all this, your brand proves that it knows its stuff.
If your customers know they can rely on you for great how-to content, they’re more likely to follow your page and check back for more insights. For example, Two Spoons, a vegan recipes brand, frequently posts Reels that teach followers how to make healthy vegan foods at home.
Often these Reels are reposted from TikTok, allowing the Two Spoons team to reach audiences on multiple channels using one asset.
These types of videos educate your audience but also give you an amazing opportunity to show off your products or services, which brings us to the next point…
4. Showcase Your Products in Action
Ever bought a product online only for it to arrive and be totally different from what you had in mind? Save your audience the grief by demonstrating your products in real-life scenarios.
Highlight the best features and benefits of your product. Try to underscore its unique selling point (USP) — why should people purchase your product over a competing one?
For instance, Coffee Over Cardio, an online coffee store, shares Instagram Reels of their various coffee products.
So, if you sell training shoes, record a short clip in which someone is tying the laces and walking around. Pair them up with outfit ideas. And don’t forget to include purchasing instructions in your caption — something like “Head over to the link in bio to buy now!”
Also, it’s crucial that you hook the audience within the first couple or so seconds of the Reel, or else they’ll scroll past.
5. Make It Fun and Personal
Last but not least, make sure to leverage the true essence of reels — which is to engage with your audience in a fun and personal way.
This is the place to ditch the formal talk and form personal connections with your audience.
For instance, share your CEO’s morning rituals, or vlogs from that conference your team is attending, or the daily bloopers your audience can resonate with.
Don’t be afraid to jump on a trending meme or video style that aligns with your brand. You could even try creating your own trend or challenge and ask your followers to join in (don’t forget to create a unique branded hashtag).
You form strong audience relations only by being a bit vulnerable. So be real with your Reels.
Over to You
Instagram’s rendition of TikTok provides a solid way for businesses to share tips, educate, entertain, inspire, and authentically engage with their audiences. With Instagram Reels, you can develop a stronger connection with your followers and improve your brand’s visibility.
And you don’t have to be a big-name brand with thousands of followers to go viral — which makes it all the more worth a shot.
So it’s time to use the tips outlined above to work reels into your overall marketing strategy.