The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Reels

Chances are you’ve seen Reels on Instagram already, even if you didn’t realise it at the time. This new feature, which is currently being rolled out internationally, allows users to create short 15-second video clips often set to catchy music.

Now, if this concept sounds a little familiar, you’d be right! Almost everyone is directly comparing it to TikTok. But what exactly is Instagram Reels, and how can you use them as part of your wider digital marketing strategy? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know.

What Are Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels provide a new and fun way to easily record and edit 15-second videos and share them to Stories, Explore Feed, and on your profile. Videos can either be filmed live or pre-recorded and uploaded from your camera roll, and then edited using a variety of features including audio, text, AR effects, and stickers.

First launched in Brazil in late 2019, Instagram Reels are now available in over 50 other countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan, on both iOS and Android.

How Are Reels Different to Stories

  • While these two features may sound similar, they have some key differences:Reels offers more advanced editing tools, including AR effects, speed controls, and the option to execute cleaner transitions between frames.
  • Reels can be shared to both the Explore page and on Stories. When you upload a Reel, you can also choose to post it to your Feed, where it will appear in a dedicated section of your profile (similar to IGTV posts).
  • If you include original audio (ie sounds you have recorded in the video), your audio will be attributed to you, and other users can use it to create new reels.

Why Should Brands Use Reels:

1. They are here to stay

While Instagram don’t yet provide the same level of analytics for Reels as they do for Stories and feed posts, the app has launched a new Reels button on the main Instagram navigation bar, suggesting that they won’t be disappearing anytime soon!

2. Reach and exposure beyond your followers

The Reels algorithm hasn’t been locked down yet but it feels very similar to the TikTok For You page and is most likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located. This means that you don’t have to be following an account to see their Reel – providing you with a unique opportunity to access new audiences.

3. Genuine engagement and entry-level to video editing

The style of videos posted on Reels, and similarly on TikTok, are often shot on mobile phones, providing you with a unique chance to dip your toe in the video editing world. Now more than ever, the focus is on genuine engagement instead of professionally filmed and edited content which means that you don’t need to have expensive gear and blockbuster budgets to get involved.

Some Ideas To Help Get You Started

1. Go Behind the Scenes

Give your audience an insight into the inner workings of your brand with behind-the-scenes content that showcases the personality behind the business and creates a more personal experience. Showing personality helps build trust amongst your audience, increasing the likelihood of converting followers into consumers.

2. Take Followers on a Virtual Adventure

Travel inspo and wanderlust locations are already hugely popular on Instagram, and brands have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this using Instagram Reels. Take viewers on a tour of your surrounding area, sharing secret spots and the best locations for visitors to get their Insta-worthy shot.

3. Educate

While short film videos were originally all about entertainment, we’ve seen a hug shift towards more educational content – tapping into the growing trend for micro-learning. Carefully think about your product /offering and whether there is an opportunity to create a ‘how-to’ reel. Speak to your team and find out about any special talents or hobbies that could potentially translate into authentic and engaging content – whether its bee keeping or micro-brewing, your followers will begin to have a much clearer understanding of who you are and the people behind the brand.

10 Ways Instagram Has Evolved in the last 10 Years

Last week Instagram celebrated its 10th birthday, and to mark the occasion, we’re looking back at how the app has changed over the last decade and the endless opportunities it has created for businesses and brands alike. From its initial launch in 2010 as a simple photo-sharing app, to the multi-functional social media giant we know today, here is a look into the evolution of Instagram…

1.Instagram introduces video

Three years after its initial launch, Instagram made a pivotal move by enabling video sharing on the app. As a direct response to rival apps such as Vine, Instagram were quick to capitalise on the emerging demand for video sharing, allowing videos of up to 15 seconds in length to be posted directly on people’s feed. Today, videos are one of the most popular post-sharing formats with how-to-tutorials generating the highest engagement.

2. Instagram Stories

Back in 2013, the surging popularity of rival app Snapchat prompted Instagram to mirror their defining 24-hour ‘story’ feature – a move which proved to be hugely beneficial, as Instagram Stories quickly surpassed Snapchat’s success. With a 24-hour window, stories are designed to house less curated, off-the-cuff content, enabling users to engage with their audience beyond their polished feed. The emergence of Stories provided a great opportunity for brands to foster an online personality and engage with consumers on a more spontaneous level, giving real insight into daily activities and the behind-the-scenes of a brand, contributing towards the growth of a positive consumer-brand relationship.

3. Business Profiles

Fast forward to 2016 and Instagram had become an essential part of the marketing mix, creating opportunities for brands to reach new audiences as well as to engage with existing customers – sparking the arrival of Business Profiles. The debut of Business Profiles marked a crucial shift for Instagram as it moved from a social media network to an essential marketing tool for businesses worldwide – granting access to an extended set of features designed to aid business owners and demonstrate return on investment. Today, users with business accounts are able to access valuable post insights including impressions, reach engagements and website clicks, include clickable links within their profile bio and access follower demographic data without ever needing to leave the app.

4. Instagram Highlights

Over a year after Instagram Stories’ initial launch, the app finally allowed users to permanently save stories into curated highlights at the top of their profile. Highlights meant users’ hard work and creativity would not disappear after the 24-hour window but could instead be saved directly to users’ profiles until otherwise deleted. Within the travel industry in particular, this feature has been great for creating beautifully curated highlights, showcasing picturesque destination shots or tantalising images of local cuisine, saved with bespoke titles and cover photos to give profile visitors a flavour of your brand.

5. Shoppable Posts

In 2018, Instagram accelerated itself into the world of ecommerce by launching shoppable posts, which allows users to purchase an item simply by clicking on a photo. The arrival of shoppable posts meant Instagram was no longer just a useful tool for generating website leads, but enabled tangible sales, with the customer journey beginning and ending within the app.  According to a report by BigCommerce, Instagram shoppable posts have increased traffic by 1,416% for brands since its release, demonstrating its capability to generate revenue and return.

6. IGTV

In 2018 Instagram launched IGTV, catering to longer form video content and extending maximum video length from one-minute to ten-minutes, and up to an hour for larger accounts. The extended time limit has created more opportunities for engagement by allowing brands to give followers a greater insight into their brand story- cultivating desirability and inspiring consumers. Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, IGTV proved to be invaluable for staying connected, with fitness influencers sharing at-home workouts, musicians sharing virtual concerts and travel brands delving deeper into their brand story. Luxury cruise company Aqua Expeditions made excellent use of IGTV when they released a #CookingWithAqua IGTV series, in which Aqua’s world-renowned consulting chefs led cooking masterclasses inspired by the authentic local cuisine served aboard their vessels.

7. Instagram Donate

In the summer of 2019, Instagram rolled out a donation sticker which could be easily attached to Instagram stories to create a 24-hour fundraising campaign, with 100% of the proceeds donated to charity. To date, the feature has proven a huge success with Instagram reporting that it raised more than $US 100 million for Covid-19 fundraisers between January – July 2020. Now more than ever, it is crucial for companies to show that they care, and this feature provides a fantastic opportunity for brands to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and build brand identity by publicly supporting the charities which lie close to their heart.

8. Instagram Guides

In May 2020, amidst a global pandemic, Instagram launched Guides. Originally created with travel in mind, Guides were inspired by the concept of Instagram users sharing informative recommendations and tips beyond photos and videos. For travel brands in particular, Guides are a great way to look beyond the walls of your hotel and generate thoughtful content exploring the local area – immersing you into the destination.

9. Reels

In the summer of 2020, the world became fascinated with new rising social platform, TikTok, where a predominantly younger user-base shared 15 second snappy videos with themes ranging from lip syncing to dance challenges. Following TikTok’s skyrocketing success, Instagram soon followed suit with ‘Reels’ – complete with their own AR effects, filters and music. Reels can be shared to both stories and main feed, offering a platform for both fun and informative videos. Not to mention Reels have also been dominating the explore page, meaning people who don’t follow your account can still see and engage with your content. Louis Vuitton is an example of a luxury brand who have made exemplary use of Reels, raking in an average of 5 million views per video, in which they promote their new collection.

10. Removal of Likes

Looking to the present day, Instagram have begun the removal of public likes meaning that although the like button will still be available, like counts will only be visible to the creator themselves. The feature has already been implemented in countries such as Australia and New Zealand and is rumoured to be rolled out to the rest of the globe imminently. While many have concerns about this update, brands should embrace it as a positive – shifting the focus away from vanity metrics such as likes and comments, and concentrating their attention on more meaningful engagements such as saves, shares and clicks, which are favoured by the Instagram algorithm. The removal of likes should also give brands and content creators a greater sense of freedom – encouraging them to experiment with creative ideas and out-of-the-box content, free from the anxiety of a low number of likes.

Mango Digital Digest: May

From the latest software updates, to the most talked about digital campaigns, the Mango Digital Digest is the monthly roundup that will help you stay up-to-date on all the important social media news you need to know.

This month’s top 10 trending topics…

1. Facebook and Instagram announced new “Shops” feature in latest move to become fully integrated e-commerce platforms

The highly anticipated new feature will allow users to buy and sell products directly on the platforms, in just a few clicks, without ever needing to leave either app. You’ll also be able to shop for products from sellers, brands and creators directly on Facebook and Instagram Live.

While Facebook Shops have already been rolled out, Instagram Shops are set to arrive on the platform this Summer, along with a dedicated Shop tab on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen to make the feature even more prominent.

2. Instagram launched new “Guides” feature

How ‘Guides’ work, is that they live in a new tab on a user’s profile and will aggregate several Instagram posts and videos along with tips, commentary and advice – which can either come from the user’s own profile or can be sourced from across other creators on Instagram.

While ‘Guides’ are currently limited to a small set of creators and only cover the wellbeing space right now, it is believed that they were originally designed with the travel industry in mind. So as international travel restrictions lift, this could certainly be one feature to watch closely!

3. LinkedIn confirms that ‘dwell time’ now factors into content distribution algorithm

LinkedIn has published an overview of its new ‘dwell time’ metric, which is now being factored into its feed algorithm, which defines what each user sees on the platform. Dwell time, as it sounds, calculates how long a LinkedIn user spends looking at an update or link.

As explained by LinkedIn: “At a high level, each update viewed on the feed generates two types of dwell time. First, there is dwell time “on the feed,” which starts measuring when at least half of a feed update is visible as a member scrolls through their feed. Second, there is dwell time “after the click,” which is the time spent on content after clicking on an update in the feed.”

Therefore, if you want to start maximizing your post reach on LinkedIn, it’s important to consider how you can grab people’s attention, and keep it for as long as possible…

4. Twitter announced, “a new way to have a convo with exactly who you want” by allowing users to limit who can reply to their tweet

While it may feel somewhat anti-twitter to limit who can respond to a post, the new feature will hopefully allow people to better engage with their audiences while also avoiding their posts being littered with bot activity.

5. Instagram supports small businesses during the global pandemic by adding new sticker functions to Stories

Another new feature from Instagram that shows they really care about businesses… Earlier in May, the app launched a “Support Small Business” sticker in Stories, which lets users shout-out their favourite small businesses in front of their followers. Similar to the “Stay Home” sticker launched at the start of the pandemic, when used, the Story including the sticker will be added to a shared public Story, which appears right at the start of everyone’s Stories tab – offering exposure far beyond just your followers.

6. Instagram confirmed that stories will have a more prominent role on user feeds

Last year Stories overtook the newsfeed as the No.1 way we share things with friends and so it comes as no surprise that Instagram have confirmed that Stories will become more prominent on the platform.

While it’s unsure how exactly these will be displayed, it does highlight that everyone should be embracing Stories and ensuring that they are a key part of any social media strategy.

7. For the first time in history, Twitter hid a president’s tweet

President Donald Trump’s recent tweets, detailing threats to intervene in Minneapolis amid protests over police brutality, have been flagged by Twitter for “glorifying violence”. While Twitter chose not to remove the tweet entirely, it did go to show that no one is exempt from their strict community guidelines!

8. Instagram CEO hints at auto-subtitling video content across the platform

Content creators and brands who have spent hours adding captions and subtitles to videos can finally rejoice, as Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom has hinted that they are looking into a feature that will automatically add subtitles to video content across the platform.

Not only is this great from an accessibility perspective but according to research from multiple organisations, as much as 85% of video views happen with the sound off – proving just how much captions and subtitles really matter!

9. Twitter Rolls Out Native Scheduling Within the Tweet Composer Window on Desktop

After testing it out for close to a year, Twitter finally announced on May 28th that it’s bringing native tweet scheduling and the capacity to save tweet drafts to its desktop app. While this function has always been available on the mobile app, it’s a welcome addition for brands and social media managers not using paid for scheduling platforms, who now have another option for tweet scheduling.

10. Instagram announced a broader rollout of ads in IGTV content

Following months of trials, Instagram have officially announced a broader rollout of ads in IGTV content, which means that creators will now be able to earn a small commission directly from their video content (which will be split with Instagram).

Instagram explains, “We are introducing ads in IGTV, our long-form video destination. IGTV ads will initially appear when people click to watch IGTV videos from previews in their feed. The video ads will be built for mobile and up to 15 seconds long. We’ll test various experiences within IGTV ads throughout the year – such as the ability to skip an ad – to make sure the final result works well for people, creators and advertisers.”

While this will be a welcomed addition for both content creators who can use this to supplement their income and brands looking to drive awareness amongst their target audiences, the question remains about how well will this feature be welcomed by ad-avoiding consumers?

*Bonus Feel Good Story of the Month: Captain Tom Moore became a worldwide internet sensation after raising £32 million for the UK’s NHS

Any social media user will be hard-pressed to have not heard about the incredible efforts of Captain Tom Moore, who managed to raise a whopping £32 million for the NHS after pledging to walk up and down his garden 100 times before his 100th birthday.

With an initial goal of raising £1,000, Captain Moore’s sponsored walk ended up being one of the most successful fundraising stories of our time, proving the public’s hunger for joy during a time of bleak international crisis.

Mango Digital Digest: October 2019

From the latest software updates, to the most talked about digital campaigns, the Mango Digital Digest is the monthly roundup that will help you stay up-to-date on all the social media news you need to know.

This month’s trending topics…

1. Twitter takes a stand against politics

This month, Twitter announced that it will ban all political advertising on the platform saying that the reach of such messages “should be earned, not bought”. Since making the announcement, Twitter have received global praise for acknowledging the effect these adverts have on voting and for doing their part to put a halt to the problem of political misinformation … No pressure Facebook!

2. LinkedIn Engagement Continues To Rise

A report published by Microsoft earlier this month shows that not only were LinkedIn revenues up 25% but that LinkedIn sessions grew 22% – generating record levels of engagement and job postings. So, if you haven’t been paying attention to LinkedIn, perhaps it’s worth more of your focus in 2020!

3. Instagram rolls out a series of new features

Instagram has been hard at work this month, rolling out a variety of new features to keep users engaged and help make navigating the platform easier. From adding a new DM filtering feature for creator accounts to removing the ‘following’ tab which means you can no longer see the activity of the people you follow (sorry Insta-stalkers!) – there’s been plenty of small changes rolled out over the past few weeks. And let’s not ignore the rumours that they’re currently testing out a new way to categorise who you follow and prioritise who shows up in your feed… #StayTuned

4. Facebook and Instagram ban ‘sexual’ emojis including aubergine and peach

Sorry fruit lovers, but the aubergine and peach emojis are among those that have been deemed too promiscuous for Facebook and Instagram, who have recently rolled-out a new policy which will ban the use of such emojis if used in a ‘sexually suggestive’ way.

5. TikTok tops download charts

Is TikTok part of your digital marketing plans for 2020? Well, if you’re looking for an authentic way to engage with Gen Z consumers and video content is central to your social media strategy, then perhaps it should be! As reports indicate that it was the most downloaded app both on iOS and Android for the month of September – with close to 60 million installs!  

Dubbed Vine 2.0, Tiktok is unlike other platforms as it’s content driven as opposed to connections driven, meaning creators have to get creative if they want to create the next viral sensation. Our only question? Which brand will be the first to truly rise to the challenge…