Last week Instagram launched "Reels", a new way to record fun and engaging 15 second videos to music on the app.
That's no coincidence.
Tiktok is the hottest app of 2020, so it is no surprise that Facebook owned Instagram has jumped on the bandwagon. Reels (taking its name from old school movie camera reels) was launched in direct response to TikToks surge in popularity and their uncertain future in the US.
This isn't their first move to replicate TikTok, quietly launching Lasso in 2018, a stand-alone video app that failed to take off. But Reels isn't a new app, instead an addition to the core Instagram app meaning you don't need to download anything, just have the latest version of Instagram. This TikTok clone is much more likely to be a success, due to its prime position in Instagram and the familiarity and popularity that comes with it. If we have learnt anything from Instagram Stories, Instagram knows how to take a tried-and-tested format and smash it (sorry Snapchat).
Instagram is no stranger to video content, with IGTV and Stories being a huge success on the platform, slowly becoming the preferred means of sharing content on the platform over the original news feed. Reels is another move to make the app more comprehensive and fill the need for short form video content that is high quality yet informal, and has a longer lifespan than 24 hours. Whilst it is a copycat, Reels may just help bring some TikTok users back to the app and help boost its growth.
What does this mean for content?
Instagram introducing yet another video feature to their app is another indication that video content is one of the most popular forms of content. People are demanding more short-form, fast paced and easily consumable content as attention spans are shortening. This means content needs to be exciting and attention grabbing to engage users on social media.
This surge in video content is making it more important than ever for brands to engage with video content.
What does this mean for brands?
At the end of the day, it is not game changing for brands.
It is one of many features that brands can adopt to represent their brand online and achieve their objectives. But ultimately it comes down to your brand and tone of voice. A lot of brands will struggle to align it with their brand and incorporate things like music into their content, and that is totally understandable.
You need to ask yourself: is this true to my brand?
Reels are ultimately fun, exciting or amusing content and if this doesn't make sense for your brand - don't worry. There are many social media tools you can use to get your brand out there. There's no need to compromise your image to jump on the bandwagon.
What does this mean for marketers?
Since Instagram launched Stories, there has been a shift in how we create and interact with social media content. They started as a way of showing the "behind-the-scenes" of our lives, making the content on Instagram more raw and authentic. But then came the swipe up feature, ads and product tagging, changing the way the Stories are used. They are now a full marketing and advertising tool that brands use to promote their products with influencer partnerships or ads.
Reels is an opportunity for brands to increase brand authenticity, personality and transparency with much more instant content. It is a new way to connect with users in a new, creative and exciting way. Alongside this, Reels could give your account a chance to feature in the Explore section under the "Top Reels" tab. This section is used to discover new brands and content, increasing your brand exposure and potential following.
Reels could be a huge marketing tool for businesses, so mustn't be ignored or discounted.
To sum it all up
Reels is a unique opportunity for Instagram to compete with the ever-growing TikTok as it comes up against hurdles in the US.
This feature is yet another indication that users are demanding and consuming more video content, and the shift towards more fun and authentic short-form content.
Ultimately, Reels is not going to disrupt your strategy too much, but once it rolls out in your area give the feature a try and see whether it fits into your content marketing strategy.