Guide to Instagram Reels: A New Tik Tok Competitor

Tik-Tok has ushered in a new social media content format, which allows you to create and share short-format videos. The simplicity and ease of use in the creation and sharing of the videos have caught the imagination of the younger generation and many beyond the urban populace. The success of Tik-Tok has prompted the more prominent technological players to explore this format.

Instagram Reels is one such effort initiated by Facebook. Similar to Tik-Tok, it allows you to create and share 15-second videos in a dedicated feed on the Explore page of Instagram.

Since its first launch in late 2019, Insta Reels has become available in more than 50 countries and is accessible on both iOS and Android. Pitched as a competitor for Tik-Tok, Instagram Reels aims to capture its consumer base, especially in the recent resentment against Tik-Tok in a few countries. Few brands like Walmart and Sephora have started using Insta Reels as part of their social media marketing strategy. Few of the more popular content creators on Tik-Tok, have also begun to use Instagram Reels to create and share their content.

So, what are Instagram Reels?

The core idea behind Insta Reels is very much similar to that of Tik-Tok. It offers you a bouquet of creative tools that help create entertaining and engaging shorter format videos on the Instagram platform

You can record and edit 15-second video clips by adding audio, text, special effects, stickers, etc. and share them with your followers. Instagram provides Reels with a dedicated landing spot at the top of the Explore page, from where all the Reels feed can be accessed easily. The most trending videos or the videos of the ones you follow can be seen on this Reels Explore Feed. It is like the “For You” page on Tik-Tok.

While both platforms’ effort is to enable the users to make creative videos with the various editing tools and features, there exist specific differences that mark Instagram Reels different from Tik-Tok.

The primary difference is that Reels is a new feature inside the Instagram Platform and is not a platform in itself like Tik-Tok. This comes with its own set of advantages that leverage Instagram’s features and reach and has certain disadvantages. Furthermore, Instagram Reels have a limit of 15 seconds, lesser than the 1-minute provision on Tik-Tok. We will discuss the benefit and limiting aspect of this feature later.

Many people make a common mistake in confusing Instagram Reels with the more popular and tenured Instagram stories. We aren’t judging you here, as they sound similar, and the chances are that people get confused about these two features on Instagram. However, there certain differences that are evident. Reels offer a host of editing tools that includes various AR effects, speed controls, an option of stitching up multiple clips with smoother transitions, etc. The videos that you create on Reels can be shared both onto Stories as well as Explore. Similar to IGTV posts, these Reels that you have made appear on your profile.

Reels do sound like an exciting feature added to Instagram. So how to use Reels on Instagram and go about with the creation and sharing of the content?

Here is a step by step guide on the usage of Instagram Reels.
You would find using Reels very convenient if you already have experience with Instagram or Tik-Tok. To access Reels, all you have to do is open the Instagram Stories camera and choose Reels.
Creating a Reel
Insta Reels provides you with two options to create a reel:
  1. Using the record button – you need to press and hold this button to capture any video footage.  
  2. Using existing video – you can upload existing video footage from the camera roll.  
As highlighted earlier, Reels has the option of aligning multiple videos. You can record Reels as a series of clips – all together or one at each time.
Creating Instagram Reels is simple, and here is how you do it:
  1. Scroll down to the Reels option that you can locate at the bottom of it and tap it.
  2. Keep the following tools ready for your recording:  
    • -Audio – Select any existing audio file from your library and add it to your video. You have the option of selecting a part of the audio file.
    • -You can use other tools available – Speed (to determine the speed of your video), Effects (to apply special effects), and Timer (to decide on the length of the video).
    • -To end the recording, all you have to do is to tap on the record button. You need to re-tap if another video needs to be recorded.
    • -You can see the Align button appearing, which allows you to line up objects from the earlier videos before recording the next one. It provides a seamless transition between the different clips.
    • -You can tap the clip to review it, i.e., watch, trim, or delete.
  3. You can add stickers, text, or drownings to the Reel, and you have now completed creating your first Instagram Reel.
  • Audio – Select any existing audio file from your library and add it to your video. You have the option of selecting a part of the audio file.  

Now how do we go about sharing it?

Sharing the Reel
Once you are done with creating the video clip, tap on the Next button. This takes you to the Share page. Now tap on Cover – to add a cover for the camera roll or edit the cover photo with a video thumbnail.
You have the option to add a caption as well. In case you do not want to publish it right away, it can be saved as a draft.
Instagram Reels allows you with two Sharing options:
  1. You can share the Reel in Explore or post it to the Reels tab on your Feed. The Reels might also appear in some of the dedicated pages of the hashtags you mentioned or the songs, effects that you have used. This is when you have Public account.  
  2. In case you have a Private account, you can share the Instagram Reels to only your followers. They can only view it and would not be able to share it with others that aren’t your followers
Finding an Insta Reel to Watch
Apart from creating and sharing your own Instagram Reels, you can also watch the Insta Reels created by others on your Instagram.
On the Feed
You can browse the Feed to find and see any Insta Reels share by people that you follow. The Reels Icon at the left bottom side helps you in differentiating them from the Instagram Videos.
Using the Explore Tab
Once you go to the Explore page, you can find a reel on top of the screen. You can tap on it to watch and scroll down further for more Insta reels. Few of the reels are Featured Reels and have a Featured label. These are picked up by the Instagram Reels algorithm suggestions for your viewing.
Based on audio or Hashtags
You can also watch Insta Reels by taping on the Audio name or the hashtag at the bottom of any reel that you are watching. This would direct you to other reels that use the same audio or hashtags. Instagram Reels also provides you the option of recording a new reel in case you like the audio. For this, click on Use Audio.
Search using hashtags
You can also find Reels by typing a specific hashtag in the search bar.
Using Instagram Reels for promoting your business
While entertainment is one of the prime aspects of Instagram Reels, you can also use Instagram reels for Business promotion. The shorter format and the multiple editing features help create higher engagement content that attracts and sustains the viewer’s attention.
Brands like Sephora, Walmart, Maybelline, etc. have started to use Instagram reels to share content and engage with their followers and prospective customer base. Many of the businesses were quick to latch onto Instagram Stories when it was launched. Insta Reels helps in creating more engaging content and is also much easier to use and share.
Using Insta Reels can be part of a successful digital marketing strategy and help build up the brand and expand the reach. It’s positioning on the Explore Page of Instagram highly increases the chances of Insta Reels being noticed by the Instagram users.
Few ways that you can use Instagram Reels for your business promotion includes:
  1. Create informational and educational content. This could be a short & straightforward step-by-step process on how to do something or a quick guide of things to do or things not to do etc. You can pass on key information relating to your product or service and draw Instagram users’ attention.
  2. You can make any necessary announcements or put across any communication using Instagram Reels. Most of the viewers would not mind watching the short video clips.
  3. You can use this option to showcase any of the products.  
  4. Instagram Reels can also be used to create content that provides inside information on the different workings. For example, during the current COVID-19 times, you can make a quick video on the safety measures that your business is following.
An important aspect which one needs to keep in mind is that, while Instagram Reels can be utilized for business promotion, the primary purpose why most of the Instagram users would want to check it out is for entertainment. Hence do not make the Insta reels more promotional heavy. Identify themes that the viewers can connect to and try to market your product or service indirectly. Any Social Media Marketing Agency would be adept at this and help you create an engaging business promotion on Instagram reels.
Else, with the easy to use tools and platform, you yourself could create Instagram Reels that capture the viewers’ attention.