An introduction to producing Instagram Reels & TikTok content
Reels. TikToks. You’ve heard about them, probably seen them, maybe even made a few, but what’s the deal?
What are Reels and TikToks?
Instagram Reels and TikTok videos are short form videos, typically 15 to 60 seconds long and provide viewers with entertaining, educational multi-video “snackable” packages designed for rapid consumption.
The Rise of Short Form Video Content
With the disappearance of Vine in 2017, TikTok filled the void as the paradigm short-form video platform. Since then, many other platforms have followed suit, launching their own versions. Reels was Instagram’s response to TikTok starting to gain popularity.
Rise in Popularity
This explosive growth in popularity for the platforms could be seen as a testament to consumer’s rapidly growing appetite for entertainment in the form of video content. With smartphones now used everywhere, anyone can be a viewer, or a creator. TikTok and Instagram Reels give everyone a platform to create engaging video content quickly and easily. All you need is a smartphone, a spark of inspiration and perhaps a sprinkling of humour and creativity too.
How Popular are Reels & TikTok Videos right now?
Short form video content posted in the form of Reels and TikTok’s have taken off into the stratosphere. Since launching in 2016, TikTok has accumulated over 1 billion active users online. When Instagram introduced reels in 2020 (the year we will all remember as when COVID came to town), engagement surged on Instagram by 22% as everyone stuck at home in lockdowns started creating and consuming more video content. TikTok was the most downloaded app globally in 2021 with 656 million downloads, and has been the most downloaded app throughout 2022 also. It has now reached a total of 3.5 billion downloads in total, with 8 new users joining the platform every second.
Furthermore, the popularity of other content formats such as posts and stories have taken a backseat since then. Instagram has seen a shift in its engagement across its other types of posts since the introduction of Reels. To illustrate, the average engagement rate for Reels in 2022 is 1.95%, at least double its other post types, while TikTok videos have an impressive 5.95%.
So what makes these apps so popular?
Is everyone just dancing and goofing off? The short answer is, no. These apps have lots more benefits than you may imagine.
What are TikTok and Reel’s key benefits?
Perceived authenticity is arguably the key behind TikTok and Instagram Reels’ success. Both platforms allow users to create authentic content that’s unfiltered, genuine and creative. In fact, 77% of TikTok users feel free to express their true selves on the app and will resonate with brands who do the same. You’ll see people openly sharing their challenges, shining a light on complex social topics such as neuro diversity, gender identity, racial equality, politics and more. People love sharing their views, and learning from one another.
TikTok and Instagram Reels users can spend hours mindlessly scrolling through the apps. On TikTok alone users spend on average 95 minutes a day surfing through the app which is much higher than the 40 minutes a day we previously thought was high for avid Facebook users. People start following their favourite celebrities, influencers and creators and want to ensure they are up to date with their latest antics. Once you find your niches, it’s downright addictive.
Many people assume TikTok and Reels are purely for entertainment but they can be extremely informative too, giving people all sorts of insightful information on a wide range of topics in a highly visual way. Examples of informative content includes recipes, news on politics, weather patterns, travel hacks, cleaning hacks and much, much more, much of which is practical and helpful to the viewer.
Another reason why the popularity of Reels and TikToks has skyrocketed is the huge reach they both have. The algorithms of the platform pushes your content beyond the circle of your immediate followers to their wider user audience which you often have to pay to achieve using other formats. For example, TikTok’s average organic (non paid) reach is 118% while Facebook’s is a low 5.2%.
Instagram Reels vs TikTok Videos: What’s the difference?
From an initial glance, TikTok and Reels appear almost identical. In fact, 87% of Gen Z TikTok users consider both apps to be the same. Both app’s screen layout, function, in-app features, and overall feel are very similar. However, there are a few differences between the two.
Tiktok’s “Duet” feature lets you post side-by-side with other content creators, while Instagram’s “Remix” feature serves the same purpose. Reels are yet to catch up with TikTok’s feature “Stitch”, which allows you to include trimmed clips of other creator’s videos into your own to interact or respond to.
The other main difference is time limits, with TikTok having longer recording options. TikTok offers recording intervals of 15-second, 60-second and 3-minute compared to Reels which has 15 second, 30-second, and 60-second intervals. When you only have a short window in which to capture your audience’ attention it’s important to hook them in. The implications for businesses who might be running ads on the platforms is to be punchy and get your service or product’s benefits across quickly. Whilst the short form 15-second clips might be the most popular, the expanded longer offerings have value too. For example, a 3-minute clip might appeal to audience’s who are used to Youtube’s longer storytelling capabilities.
The in-app sound library is also a point of difference, with TikTok having much more variety and accessibility for business accounts. Instagram doesn’t allow the same access to copyrighted music from their library.
How Do I Create an Instagram Reel or TikTok Video?
It may seem daunting but creating a TikTok or Instagram Reel is incredibly easy.
1) To create a new TikTok, select the + icon at the centre bottom of the screen.
2) Here you can upload content from your own library or use the TikTok camera.
3) Add sounds, effects and any filters you may want to use.
4) Hit the record button and starting filming.
5) Make any edits on your video.
1) In the Instagram app, tap the camera icon on the top left of your screen, and scroll to reels at the bottom.
2) Tap and hold the record button and start filming your clips. You can also upload video from your library.
3) Trim or edit your clips.
4) Add stickers, filters and any text you’d like.
5) Write up your caption and hit post.
When and How Often Should I Post Reels or TikTok Videos?
Well how long is a piece of string? There isn’t a magic formula for when and how often you should be posting Reels and TikToks. However, there are a few recommendations you should follow.
For Instagram it is recommended to post a Reel 4-7 times per week. That being said, the best content is timely and relevant content, so you should always post when you have something worth posting about. The TikTok algorithm favours how often you post versus when you post, with user’s “For You” feed only going back a few days. Therefore, you should aim to post content when your audience is online and scrolling through the app, at a time that it will be helpful to them ie makeup tips on a Friday or Saturday night as they get ready to go out.
How Can I Be Creative with Reels & TikTok Videos?
There are several ways to get creative with Reels and Tiktoks, with your creativity being the only limit to the type of content you can make. Utilise voice-overs, in-app music, filters, sounds and fast edits to seamlessly integrate entertainment value into your posts.
Some ideas for fun content to produce and post as a Reel or Tiktok include:
Behind the Scenes
Shooting behind the scenes is a great way to showcase authenticity and everything great with your business. This is an opportunity to show your audience you’re real people and not some faceless corporation.
A Day in the Life
A popular way to draw people into your personal brand is to share your day with them. Don’t shy away from the boring stuff, show off everything from the glamorous to the nitty gritty. Capture your morning coffee ritual, writing emails, hitting the gym or grabbing lunch with coworkers. Viewers crave authenticity and by letting them into your world, you can become part of theirs.
Everyone loves a sneak peak. So, a great way to draw your audience in is to provide a glimpse of a new product launch. Show off some new flashy packaging, or demonstrate your product in use. This can build anticipation among your audience and draw interest to your brand.
Which Do I Choose?
While it might seem like you’ll have to choose between the two platforms, the reality is you don’t have to. Snubbing one over the other may result in alienating entire audiences. With many of the same mechanics and features, it is possible to tailor your social media strategy to be cohesive across both platforms. Think half the effort, double the reach.
We do however recommend posting natively on each network and not sharing content across platforms, even though you can. Research has shown this impacts results negatively.
Any Other Tips or Recommendations?
Community engagement is one of the primary drivers for both TikTok and Instagram’s Reel success. They both allow you to collaborate with other creators for great effect. TikTok’s “Stitch” and “Duet” features enable you to engage, react, respond to and create entirely new content. Instagram has a similar offering with their “Remix” feature.
Be on Trend
TikTok and Instagram’s algorithm highlights emerging trends that allow creators to create viral content, without the prerequisite of a massive following. These trends usually take the form of dances, popular sounds, and social challenges, which give ample inspiration for anyone to get in on the action. See a fun sound being used all over your feed? Jump on the bandwagon and add your own spin on it. Users can explore these trends on Instagram’s “Explore”, or TikTok’s “For You” page. Using trending sounds or music with your videos can get you into the limelight.
With such immense popularity, it’s indisputable that TikTok and Reels should be a part of your social media strategy. They both offer great organic reach, increasing awareness of your brand and potentially sales in the process. So, if you aren’t already doing so, it’s time to get filming and get Reel.
Keen to Learn More About TikTok and Reels?
Well, you’re in luck because very soon we’ll be running a session on this! This upcoming webinar will clarify what Reels and TikTok videos are, how to create them and how you can use them to grow your business. Join us this October where we delve into the reel world even more…