Facebook Reels and Instagram Reels are new features you’ve likely noticed on Facebook, Instagram or both. You might be wondering what it is and how you can use this for your marketing.
What are Facebook Reel and Instagram Reels?
Reels is a feature where users can create and share fun, short videos using a catalog of music and other media. More specifically, they are 15-second, multi-clip videos that can have sound, music and other effects added to them.
If you’re familiar with TikTok videos, then you’re familiar with the capabilities of Reels.
The purpose of Reels is to entertain and inspire creativity.
Meta’s answer to TikTok
It’s definitely how Facebook (which owns Instagram) is attempting to combat the popularity of TikTok, a newer social video app that has been exploding among younger audiences.
Similar to Facebook’s approach with Snapchat
Similar to how Facebook copied the Stories feature from Snapchat, it’s going with the same playbook for Reels from TikTok. The strategy effectively rocketed the use of Instagram Stories over Snapchat Stories. However, time will tell if this will happen against TikTok with Reels.
But what is Reels? And why should your franchise use them?
Why you should try Reels
There are three reasons why your franchise should consider incorporating Reels into its social media marketing strategy.
Improved visibility and discoverability
Reels is a prioritized feature on Instagram and Facebook, the platforms are giving prioritized status to all Reels-related content you post.
This expands to users’ news feeds, the “Explore” section of Instagram and a dedicated Reels section on Instagram (located in the center of the navigation bar).
In other words, prime-time visibility for your target audience.
The reason for the prioritization is that Facebook and Instagram want to encourage users to start using the feature, so now is the time to jump in and experiment.
Opportunity to make your marketing more personable
Because of the nature of Reels, the feature offers your business the opportunity to share fun and personable content that will entertain your audience and show a potentially relatable side of your brand.
Just make sure that whatever you experiment with and create on Reels is true to your business’s brand. Being fun and using music and effects in your video clips can quickly go off track if you’re not paying attention.
When a social media feature is new, it can take many brands a while to adapt to it and start using it.
The sooner you can begin experimenting with Reels, the further ahead you can get on your own competition. Think of it this way: Even just experimenting now will make you experienced when your competition is just starting to experiment.
Best practices for using Facebook and Instagram Reels
The following are seven best practices for small businesses using Reels on either Instagram or Facebook.
Highlight brand individuality
Reels is all about unique content with a thoughtful storyline. In other words, it’s a blank slate for out-of-the-box creativity.
However, if you’re struggling to brainstorm ideas that you can take to the next level (creatively speaking), consider:
Ideas to start with
- Sharing company culture
- Announcing new product launches or offers
- Creating how-to tutorials
- Displaying your product or service in an attention-grabbing way
- Revealing insider tips and tricks
- Repurposing past content that has performed well
- Showing what happens behind the scenes
- Highlighting before-and-after moments
Experiment with text and captions
Experiment with hashtags, text and captions. Research what is trending and what your competition is doing. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, whether that with the use of camera angels, audio, etc.
Just be wary of hard-selling too much. Viewers won’t have an appetite for it, and over time, you’ll struggle to build your reach and engagement on Reels.
Think vertical and pay attention to aspect ratios
Like Stories, Reels content is vertical. This might not be a big stretch for content creation if you’re already creating content for Stories, TikTok and/or Snapchat.
But it can be an adjustment if you haven’t stepped into those other features and/or platforms yet.
Ideal aspect ratios for Instagram and Facebook
As far as file size for Reels, it’s not a huge concern if you’re creating your content within the platform (either Instagram or Facebook). However, if you plan on importing any clips for your Reels video, keep these characteristics in mind:
- The recommended Reels size is 1080 by 1920 pixels.
- The recommended aspect ratio for Reels is 9:16.
Avoid clipping when using the wrong dimensions
If the size is not accurate, you could end up with an awkwardly cropped Reels clip.
Balance authenticity with quality
Reels allows for fun, authentic content, but on the flip side, you still want to balance that with well-produced clips.
Pick the right audio
Take the time to plan, execute and edit your Reels video clips so that you can walk that line and hit that balance every time to best engage with your target audience. Choosing the right audio is a big piece, so don’t rush the creation process.
Storyboard your plan
We recommend using a visual storyboard process to plan your Reels clip frame by frame. But truly, practice makes perfect. Keep experimenting and creating.
Avoid watermarks in your videos
It’s probably not a surprise that since Facebook is aiming to compete with TikTok by implementing Reels, your content will not be as successful if it has another platform’s watermark on it.
Cross-posting can get watermarked
For example, if you create a TikTok video on that platform and then save it to upload it to Instagram Reels, there will be a TikTok watermark in the corner of that uploaded clip.
Focus on original content
To avoid this, you’ll want to create original content within Instagram or Facebook Reels so that it can play nice with those platforms’ algorithms.
Add a custom thumbnail
By creating a custom Reels cover, you are taking the power of your content into your own hands. The cover is the first image users see when they come across your Reels video clip.
Make sure that you design an image that is not only eye-catching but also true to the content users will see by watching your clip.
You can add the cover by clicking on “Cover” after creating your Reels clip. You can then add the image from your gallery.
Optimize the sharing of your Reels
Once created, Instagram specifically allows you to share the video clip to the Reels tab, where your followers can then access it easily on your profile.
Add to your own feed to encourage sharing
Be sure to share your Reels clip to your feed as well so that it’ll show on your main profile view alongside your other feed posts. You can also save it and share it at a more optimized time for your audience. While various “best time to post” articles exist online, the key is to think about your target audience’s time zone and when they’ll likely be engaging with your content.
Ideas for timing publication of your Reel
- When they wake up?
- During lunch?
- Toward the end of the traditional workday?
- After dinner?
- Before bed?
From there, experiment with timing to get the best sense for your brand account since every brand is unique with a different audience.
With a public Instagram business account (rather than a private personal Instagram account), your Reels clip could be picked up and suggested to users at large in Instagram’s main discovery Reels tab.
Monitor and track your Reels performance
Just like with any other feature or even platform, tracking your metrics is critical to understanding what works best for your target audience and what isn’t working at all.
Track Likes, saves, shares and more
You’ll be able to view reach, likes, saves, shares, comments and plays. Keep in mind that the number of plays can be higher than your reach since users can watch a Reels clip more than once.
Your Reels analytics are located within Instagram Insights on the Instagram app, which is only available for business accounts.
Keep in mind that the use of Reels on Facebook or Instagram is not a substitute for your presence on TikTok.
Reels are not a replacement for TikTok
If you’re trying to reach a younger target audience, TikTok marketing should be part of your strategy as long as it’s a relevant space for the users you’re trying to reach.
In other words, it doesn’t matter how the battle for users between Facebook and TikTok ends up. TikTok is a relevant social media app for now and still deserves consideration.