Remember when Instagram was just a photo-sharing platform?
Well, not so much anymore.
Instagram has announced it’s doubling down its focus on video in 2022 and prioritizing content on Instagram Reels — meaning if marketers aren’t embracing these short, entertaining videos, they could find their posts buried.
Why the shift by Instagram?
“It’s basically Instagram recreating their own version of TikTok,” says Christina Botte, director of social media at EGC Group, a Melville-based marketing and digital services firm. She’s of course referencing the competing popular social video app, TikTok. But unlike TikTok, where videos can go up to 10 minutes, you only have up to 60 seconds on Reels, she says.
“It’s clear that Instagram is putting more emphasis on short-form video,” says Denise Wakeman, a Los Angeles-based digital marketing consultant. “It’s been coming for a while.”
At year-end, Instagram head Adam Mosseri even posted a video to Twitter outlining key priorities for 2022 with Reels content a top priority, noting “we’re no longer just a photo-sharing app.”
They have made Reels videos more prominent on their site and made it easier to follow people who create Reels, Wakeman says.
The one downside, though, is this can be challenging to smaller marketers because “video takes more effort to create” and more planning then simply posting a photo, she says.
“It’s going to be an investment in time and resources,” Wakeman says.
Compelling content wins
With that said, marketers have to prioritize content that’s “most compelling,” she says.
To make your Reels videos engaging, you can add text, effects and even music, says Botte. The Reels icon is located on the bottom of the Instagram menu tab.
As a tip, it helps adding a trending song to your video because it may come up in top searches, she says. It also helps to add text to videos to help catch the viewer's eye, Botte says.
She said they’ve found success posting fun trending videos on Reels for Jovia Financial Credit Union, which has 21 branches on Long Island. For instance, a popular one featured some employees strutting down a corridor in slow motion to "Do It To It" by ACRAZE and accompanying text that says, “on our way to get you an affordable loan.” Since EGC started doing Reels for Jovia in January, those Reels video posts are getting up to “650% higher engagement than regular posts,” Botte says.
Botte said there is no copyright issue as long as the song is added within the Instagram app because Instragram credits the artist.
Rob Rimmer, creative director and senior vice president of brand at Edgewood-based Lacrosse Unlimited, which has 46 brick-and-mortar locations including nine on Long Island, selling uniforms and gear, says they’ve also seen increased engagement using Reels.
Hundreds of thousands views
Reels views combined weekly for the brand are in the “hundreds of thousands” and photo views are just in the thousands, he says.
As far as strategy goes, “we strategically push out product videos and photography, being careful not to oversell the consumer,” Rimmer says. “We tend to feature highlight plays of the week from both High School and at the College level that get a ton of engagement.”
With Instagram prioritizing Reels, the company has shifted its own strategy the last eight months.
“We might now post 10 Reels to one photo in a given week,” Rimmer says.
He can’t say how many sales it’s resulted in, but says for them “it’s more for brand awareness and engagement.”
Hilary Topper, president of Long Beach-based HJMT Public Relations and author of Branding In A Digital World, agrees Reels can be great for brand awareness.
She focuses on posting Reels of her triathlete activities, including videos at races and also products she uses. It’s also led to sponsors for her blog — A Triathlete’s Diary, which has 50,000 followers — and new clients on the public relations side of her business.
As an added bonus, Instagram offers certain content creators money for doing Reels based on number of views. Topper has been paid for certain Reels she’s posted.
“I’m not making a fortune from it, but I’ve made a few hundred dollars,” says Topper.
She says marketers have to shift their mindset to video.
“I put up a photo maybe 200 of my 12,000 followers see it, but when I put up Reels I get 600 to 2,100 views,” says Topper.
Her best advice is videos “must be relatable, passionate and real.” They have to be entertaining, but not salesy.
It’s OK to use your cellphone, but make sure the video isn’t grainy and there isn’t unnecessary background noise.
And it doesn’t mean you should totally stop posting photos. “it’s just about adding more variety,” Wakeman says.
There are more than 200 million business accounts on Instagram.