If you haven’t got the message by now, Meta really wants you to use Reels, and provide it with more Reels content to feed into the ever-growing interest in short-form content.
Indeed, during its most recent earnings call, Meta noted that Reels now makes up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram, while video overall accounts for 50% of the time that users spend on Facebook. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has repeatedly noted that they’re working to consolidate all of Instagram’s video options around Reels, while all videos posted to the app are now eligible to be displayed in Reels feeds.
The TikTok effect has transformed the product roadmap of many social platforms, none more so than Meta, and the usage stats suggest that if you want to maximize your Facebook and IG performance, it’s worth, at the least, considering Reels in your platform marketing approach.
And if you are exploring your Reels options, this may help. Today, Instagram has published a new set of tips to help maximize your Reels performance, and provide more inspiration for your short-form video clips.
As per Instagram:
“Since its introduction on Facebook and Instagram, Reels has grown to become a treasure trove of entertaining, imaginative and educational video content from around the world. Reels is the ideal place for brands to get discovered on the global stage, to express themselves with more creativity and fun, and can play a powerful role in crafting compelling narratives that drive excitement, engagement and awareness.”
Further underlining this, Instagram says that over 45% of accounts now interact with a Reel in the app at least once a week.
It’s difficult to overstate the influence that TikTok has had in this respect, which goes beyond just providing an alternative content option, and extends into habitual behavioral shifts – which means that users are now more naturally attuned to respond to short-form content, and are becoming increasingly responsive to such every day.
In other words, TikTok has changed the way that people engage with video content overall, so it’s not just that TikTok is popular in itself, it means that all apps need to align with this usage shift, or risk being left behind, because the more that people consumer short-form content, the more their attention spans are being inherently re-programmed to respond to this format.
In line with this, Instagram has shared six key tips to help maximize your short-form video approach:
- Nail the hook – Instagram says that, as with all video formats, brands should look to keep their objectives in mind, and highlight their brand within the first few seconds of your Reels clips. ‘If the intent is conversions, showcase your product or service in action.’
- Get creative with transitions – Creativity is key in short-form video, and Instagram advises that brands should look to experiment with transitions to both entertain their viewers and show off their brand’s personality. There’s no prescriptive playbook here – creativity requires testing and development. But by considering different presentation styles, and watching content from other brands and creators, you can come up with more engaging, original ways to frame your clips.
- Match the rhythm – Music has been a key element in the rise of TikTok – as evidenced by the resurgence of classic hits from Fleetwood Mac, along with other hit songs driven by creative trends in the app. Instagram notes that over 80% of Reels are viewed with sound on, and synching your content to music can play a big role in maximizing your content performance. IG also suggests using auto-captions to enhance engagement.
- Keep it on trend – A key part of Reels and TikTok engagement is aligning with the organic feel of the feed, which also involves being aware of the latest trends, and engaging in such, where relevant. ‘Create and encourage your audience to remix your Reels, or spark a conversation with them in the comments section. Try adding relevant hashtags to optimize exposure for your content’.
- Explore collaborations – Of course, if you really want to tap into the creative power of reels, working with experienced and skilled creators can be a great way to boost your brand story, in ways that you likely wouldn’t have thought of on your own. ‘Collaborating with influencer voices drives more engagement, authenticity and awareness. Campaigns that include Branded Content ads saw +123% lift in awareness, +112% lift in association, and +67% lift in consideration and motivation, showing that creators can help boost brand impact.’ Top creators know what works. You can find relevant creators to work with via Meta’s Brand Collabs Manager tool.
- Be authentic – Instagram’s last note is a little more generic, but the essence here is that authentic content works best in short-form video. ‘Create Reels that are true to you and that reflect your brand values’. That’s not highly directive, but the concept is that people are looking for real, unvarnished connection and content within Reels, in variance to past social media trends, which can then help them to connect with your brand ethos and approach.
- There is no ‘magic number’ for content volume or mix – Yoder says that Instagram’s algorithm is account-based, so it’s going to serve your content to individual accounts based on their behaviors. That means that some accounts (like the NBA) can post 20+ times per day and see great performance, while others will inevitably be more conservative – but either way, there’s no specific number of posts per day that you should be aiming for, given how the algorithm distributes content. ‘Always test and iterate to see what volume/mix works’.
- Pay attention to earnings calls – Each quarter, all of the major platforms outline their financial performance, which also includes key notes on strategy, and where they’re focused going forward. Yoder says that these priorities are where engineering resources go, and where they want to see more user time focused, and aligning with this can help to maximize your strategic success. ‘Just like hockey, to win skate where the puck/engineering resources are going’.
- Only you care about your grid – Yoder says that almost no one who interacts with your content is seeing it on your profile. ‘My advice is to focus exclusively on how people are interacting with your content in feed. Grid stunts are silly and hurt reach.’
- External forces drive more growth than content – Yoder notes that each year, the top growing NFL team accounts are those that make the Super Bowl. Yoder says that it’s these types of external influences that really boost engagement and activity, and that brands would be best served by focusing their strategy on capitalizing when they’re in these moments, as opposed to trying to find clever posting strategies and tricks.
- Nobody uses IG the same way – Yoder says that Instagram users are all different, with some focusing on Stories, and others exclusively linked to the main feed, or increasingly, Reels. ‘Don’t consider all of your followers the same, and don’t expect them to use the app the way you do. Experiment. Iterate. Test.’
These are some great tips for your IG strategy, both in terms of building your presence via Reels and maximizing your overall Instagram approach through variable content approaches.
And while TikTok is still the trending app of the moment, Instagram is still a leader in cultural influence. If you want to ensure you’re tapping into that, these tips will help to put you on the right track.
New Report Shows That Young Users are Increasingly Turning to TikTok for News Content
Amid ongoing concerns about its data gathering processes, and its possible linkage to the Chinese Government, TikTok’s influence continues to grow, with the platform now a key source of entertainment for many of its billion active users.
And it’s not just entertainment, TikTok is also increasingly being used for search, with Google reporting earlier this year that, by its estimates, around 40% of young people now turn to TikTok or Instagram to search for, say, restaurant recommendations, as opposed to Google Search or Maps.
And now, TikTok is also becoming a source of news and information, as more news organizations look to lean into the platform, and establish connection with the next generation of consumers.
That’s the focus of the latest report from the Reuters Institute, which looks at how people are using TikTok for news content, and which sources are playing a role in shaping their opinions in the app.
You can download the full, 38-page report here, and it’s well worth a read, but there are two specific elements that are worth highlighting to help better understand and contextualize the TikTok shift.
First off, there’s this chart, which looks at the percentage of people who are using TikTok for news content in each age bracket.
As you can see, younger users are increasingly turning to TikTok to stay informed of the latest news updates. Which is a significant shift, and not just for news publishers looking to connect with their audience, but also in terms of broader impacts, and how young audiences are staying in touch with the latest happenings.
Which then leads into this second chart:
As you can see, it’s not mainstream news sources that are the primary sources of news content on TikTok, its ‘internet personalities’ followed by ‘ordinary people’, with traditional journalists and publications much further back.
That’s a significant trend, which could reflect a broader distrust of mainstream media outlets, and the information presented in the news as we know it.
Now, younger audiences are more reliant on their favorite influencers to act as a filter, of sorts, to help highlight the news of most relevance – which could be good, in that it facilitates a new angle on the big stories each day. But it could be bad, in that the news they present and discuss is then based on the personal bias of each influencer, which is arguably a less transparent process than mainstream news outlets.
But that also depends on your perspective. Journalists, for the most part, work to uphold standards of integrity in their reporting, in order to limit the influence of personal bias, and present the key information within their updates. But increasingly, many news outlets have leaned into more controversial takes and opinions. Because that’s what works best with social media algorithms – you’re going to generate much more engagement, and thus, reach, with a headline that says something like ‘The President hates farmers’ as opposed to a more balanced report on the latest agricultural policy.
Many outlets have essentially weaponized this, and seem to employ partisan takes as a key element in their coverage, again, in order to maximize reader response, to get people commenting and sharing, and prompt more clicks.
Which definitely works, but it’s this approach that’s likely turned many younger consumers away from mainstream coverage, while the rising use of TikTok overall means that, one way or another, they’re going to get at least some news content there anyway.
Which could be a concern. Again, amid ongoing questions about the influence of the Chinese Government on the app, it seems like it should be a significant consideration that more and more young people are leaning on the app to stay informed about the latest news topics.
The report also looks at how news publishers are using TikTok, and what specific approaches are driving the most success.
“There’s no single recipe for success. Many publishers use a strategy based on hiring young creators who are native to the platform and its vernacular. This approach has connected strongly with audiences and brought critical acclaim but can make it harder to re-version content for other social platforms. Others have focused on showcasing the assets of the entire newsroom, including more experienced correspondents and anchors, delivering greater scale and flexibility but often without the same personal touch.”
So using platform-native influencers, and those more savvy with TikTok-specific trends, can help to increase engagement and performance. But there’s no definitive TikTok playbook, as such, that will lead to guaranteed, sustained success.
Which, in some ways, is because that’s not how TikTok is built. Unlike other social media apps, TikTok isn’t designed to get you to follow the people and companies that you like, in order to essentially curate your own experience.
On TikTok, the aim is to show you the most entertaining content, from anyone, in alignment with your personal interests, which you express by simply using the app. By expanding the pool of potential content to everybody, that gives TikTok’s algorithms a lot more ways to keep you glued to your feed – but the flipside is that it also makes it much harder for creators and brands to establish a following, and keep their audience coming back, as they can on other apps.
That puts more focus onto each post itself, and how entertaining your latest update is. Which is better for TikTok’s ecosystem in general, but it also means that there are more challenges in maintaining reach and resonance in the app.
That’s true for news organizations, but it’s also true for brands, because you can’t just get people to follow your brand in the app and hope that they’ll then see everything that you post.
On TikTok, it’s a new competition, every day, and if you’re not entertaining, and holding engagement with each update, you’re going to lose, on that day at least.
You can download the full Reuters Institute ‘How Publishers are Learning to Create and Distribute News on TikTok’ report here.
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