With the explosive popularity of TikTok in the past couple of years, particularly among Gen Zers and millennials, it is no surprise that Instagram jumped on the short-video content bandwagon. While many content creators have used TikTok for comedy, music, political activism and simply fun, many brands like Chipotle and even The Washington Post have found success on the platform. Instagram is clearly capitalizing on this success with its introduction of Reels.
At Obsidian, we manage Instagram accounts for most of our clients, and these accounts already have established, loyal followers. So, wouldn’t posting Reels be the next obvious choice to give followers what they want? The answer might seem like an enthusiastic “yes,” but it’s far more nuanced than that. Just because one company is posting Reels, it doesn’t mean you have to. Answer these questions first before jumping on the Reels bandwagon.
What content would I post?
A mistake many brands make is getting on social media because it’s popular and trendy. However, posting content on social media with no goal or strategy could actually be detrimental to your brand, and posting Reels is no exception. First, determine why you want to post a Reel and what you want to accomplish with it, such as increasing user engagement or expanding your target demographic.
Next, determine the type of content you want to share. If you own a restaurant, post a tutorial for users to make a popular dish at home. If you’re a financial adviser, share quick tips on simple topics such as opening a college fund for a child. If you run a theater company, share backstage stories such as costume designs and choreography rehearsals. The key is to make it fun and accessible. Because of its nature, most users scroll Reels for entertainment value, and if they learn something about your brand along the way, then that’s even better. When done right, Reels can help your brand look more human and connect with your audience on a more personal level.
Will my followers care?
In public relations, we often answer questions that require difficult and honest reflection. When a new social media feature is getting buzz, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture and ask yourself if this new trend is something you really need to be part of. The answer could be “no.” Even if your Instagram account has a substantial following, users won’t necessarily be enthralled by your Reels. If your audience is mostly middle-aged adults and senior citizens, it’s likely they won’t see, let alone seek out, this type of content. Depending on your brand’s industry, your area of expertise might not be suitable for those scrolling through Reels, and that’s OK. It’s more important to be where your target audience is, not be where you think “everyone else” is. If your content is not resonating with users, then all that effort to create your Reel could be for nothing.
I want to move forward with Reels. Now what?
Now that you’re ready to post Reels, remember these best practices when creating content.
- Storyboard your post – Through its editing function, Reels allow you to easily combine clips of audio and video. Before you begin recording, plan what shots you want to include and their order of sequence. This will keep you on track with delivering the message you want within the 30-second limit.
- Get creative – While your overall goal might be to educate viewers on a product or service, they won’t appreciate you directly selling to them. Reels is not a place to promote a Fourth of July sale. Present your expertise in a creative way to capture their interest, and then users will be motivated to learn more about your brand.
- Have fun – Reels offers several features to make your post fresh, exciting and engaging. Experiment with its capabilities and then use them to your advantage to differentiate yourself from others and get your message across.
Social media platforms are competing with each other more every day to attract daily users. With that comes more features for creators to share a variety of content. As more brands explore and post Reels, avoid the temptation to hastily do the same without a clear path. Think about your strategy and objectives first to determine if the Reels function has the capabilities to accomplish what you want. If you think it’s a worthwhile opportunity, remember to create a storyboard that will produce a creative and engaging Reel. If you feel that Reels won’t achieve your objectives, then it’s best to focus your efforts in other arenas.