Everything you need to know about Instagram Reels

Over the last couple of weeks, there has been significant talk of TikTok being banned in the US. It has already been banned in India. This is quite concerning, especially for content creators who have grown their audience on this platform as well as top brands like Chipotle, MAC Cosmetics, Calvin Klein and even Gymshark, who have harnessed the power of TikTok.


With a potential ban for the platform on the horizon, many creators and brands might have to move their creative vision and audience somewhere else. Instagram spotted the opportunity and recently launched its own platform called Reels.


What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels launched globally in over 50 countries on August 5th. This new feature update is one of the most important for Instagram in 2020, as it is a direct competitor against TikTok. Instagram may not be the fastest growing social media platform ever, but it has an impressive 1 billion monthly active users (TikTok has approximately 800 million monthly active users).


Instagram Reels is a brand new and fun way to share engaging and unique content from Instagram Stories. Similar to TikTok, you can use audio clips from some of the most prominent artists, AR lenses and other video effects to enhance your content. In an attempt to lure users, Instagram has made some changes to their algorithm to compete with TikTok. Their latest move works by allowing almost anyone to be discovered and go viral. Instead of seeing Reels from the accounts, you follow as you scroll, you will also see Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram.


There are some vast similarities between the two platforms, like being able to tap on the song or audio clip you like and re-use it in your video. Just like TikTok, you can also choose to film video clips on the spot or upload from your camera roll. However, some differences are also prominent. Instagram Reels is limiting creators and brands to 15-second videos (TikTok you can shoot up to 60 seconds) Instagram story stickers, which are very popular, can be added into your Reels video. Along with all the other editing features from Instagram stories like the draw and text tools.


As with most social media platforms, brands and creators tend to have an excellent digital presence on a majority of socials, especially Instagram. Instagram Reels may turn out to become far superior then TikTok. It is a platform that has been around far longer and is more trusted by its users. In this article, we want to take a closer look at what Instagram Reels has to offer and its possibilities for brands and content creators.


How will this impact creators

Many brands and creators have already started using Instagram Reels. However, not entirely making a switch over just yet, in the hope that TikTok is not banned. Pluto recently interviewed with Miriam Mullins, a popular content creator on TikTok.

In the interview, they asked her opinion of Instagram Reels, “If there is a TikTok ban – yes I think Instagram Reels may take over” however she thinks that “TikTok is a lot easier to use. TikTok you can shoot up to 60 seconds where’s Instagram reels is only 15 seconds which is very limiting for some creators.”


The familiarity of TikTok is something creators will miss if the app does get banned in their country. TikTok has also become a platform for self-expression and personalisation for lots of these creators. Hence, Instagram Reels might be facing a tough challenge of encouraging creators to make the switch.


On the other hand, Instagram creators that already have a trusted audience on the platform might benefit hugely from Reels. According to Later, a Paris-based photographer Janelle Sweeney has only started using Reels for a few weeks. Still, she has already begun to see her engagement rise – “I’ve been sharing spots that I typically like to photograph classic, beautiful Paris scenery, and my engagement on Reels has been surprisingly high”.



How will this impact brands

When it comes to creators and Instagram Reels, time and politics will tell what platform they will migrate to. For brands, however, it looks like they are not yet committing to any one platform, but rather testing out both. Since the global launch in August, we found six notable brands that have already started building an online presence on Instagram Reels.



The globally known fashion retailer, ASOS, has already seen massive engagement on Reels. One of their latest campaigns gained over 5 million views in just a few days. To achieve this engagement, ASOS simply re-used some of their most successful TikTok content on Reels. It’s a pretty genius and simple idea that quickly proved that Reels might also have some significant potential for the brands content strategy. Reels also has the advantage of exposing your content to a new audience or convince an audience to also look for it on Instagram.



Their previous #sephorachallenge on TikTok was a massive success with over 26 million views. The beauty brand recently tried their new celebrity look-a-like challenge #CeleblookalikeChallenge on Instagram Reels. This time around, Sephora collaborated with @ryanbpotter, an Instagram beauty influencer to create their first Reel. To date, the campaign has over 2.1 million views, and the hashtag has the potential to become trending in the coming weeks.



Nike has decided to try a different route to sharing content with their followers on Reels. They recently collaborated with @colormecourtney as she showcased her favourite Nike quarantine outfits. However, instead of sharing the Reel on their Instagram page, it’s exclusively available on Courtney’s Instagram. The video currently has 124K views and growing. Working with influencers might be one of the more effective approaches to increasing your brand’s audience on Reels.



Just like Sephora, TopShop is trying out different TikTok challenges on Reels. The “sitting down in a different outfit” challenge has become extremely popular on TikTok. TopShop has been leading this trend for months now, so naturally, they posted it on Reels. To date, the campaign has 1.7 million views and over 37K different forms of engagement like comments and likes.



Walmart has also gone the route of re-using some of its TikTok content on Reels. Their most recent campaign on Reels “your vibe your way” is all about introducing your audience to the influencers they love. Walmart is well known for having a strong influencer marketing strategy, especially when it comes to their Walmart fashion campaigns. Today the campaign has reached 301K views on Instagram Reels.



The king of on-demand TV, Netflix, has also joined Instagram Reels. Their content strategy for this feature includes releasing exclusive trailers for new and favourite shows. This gives Netflix another creative way to promote their shows instead of relying on traditional trailers on YouTube. Instagram Reels’ 15 second time limit is also a great way to entice the user to become a returning customer within a short space of time. After all, the average attention span is now down to 8 seconds. Netflix’s top campaigns on Reels so far have a total reach of over 8 million.


In conclusion, it may still be too soon to know if Instagram Reels is the next big thing. However, based on the reach and engagement from the above Reel campaigns, it is looking promising for Instagram. When it comes to TikTok, if the app gets banned in certain countries, it will defiantly have a considerable impact on specific creators who’s the audience is mainly TikTok based. With the current uncertainty around the platform, as a brand or creator, we highly recommend using Reels alongside TikTok, to build your audience there too.




Aleksandra Michniewicz specializes in copywriting and content creation for companies in a variety of industries like tech, lifestyle, fashion and finance.