The king of all visual marketing platforms, Instagram has become way more versatile than it was just a few years ago, when square photos with vintage filters were the only type of post supported. From still images, short videos and live videos to Stories, Reels and IGTV videos — the social media platform allows users to publish in a wide variety of formats.
Instagram video marketing started rolling out with basic features in 2016 and began gaining prominence in 2019. Its popularity has only increased since Instagram rolled out the Reels feature in 2020 in addition to the existing IGTV feature. So how should you go about deciding when to use which type of video post?
If you want to understand which of the two formats is best for your brand, here is a quick guide to what IGTV and Reels are and how they can add value to your business.
Simply put, Reels are nothing but short-form (15 to 30-second) video clips. They generally involve several bits of video joined together, with music and/or filters and bits of text added.
Reels are, in fact, Instagram’s answer to what TikTok offers. And just like that other video sharing-focused social media channel, with Reels brands can create and share quick content that engages the viewer and teases them enough to get them to click for more.
With 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram worldwide, Instagram Reels offer an ideal way to showcase your branded content to a larger user base. The feature is currently available in 50 countries around the world.
Pros of Instagram Reels
If you are confused about whether pursuing Reels can be an excellent marketing strategy for your business, in particular, let us explore some of its benefits:
1. Makes educational content look interesting
Reels are perfect for a timelapse-style video or a quick tour of something. You can add text to explain things, filters to create a mesmerizing effect, and a voiceover as you go along.
The format is ideal for a quick ‘how-to’ video where you can explain the basics of a process in five or six steps.
Sephora France, for example, uses Reels to share product demos, user-generated content, and makeup tutorials. See below:
2. Easy to create, time-saving and inexpensive
Reels are about informal content. You can shoot and edit them on your smartphone and upload them on the go. This helps bring your brand closer to customers, as there is more relatability. Because Reels do not require elaborate set-ups, they are cost-effective, making them perfect for brands with low budgets. Are you one of them?
3. Ensures favorable exposure when done right
Reels are all about organic reach. If your material is solid and relevant, you can go viral on Instagram through your Reels without spending a dime on ads. Therefore, the sooner you jump on the bandwagon, the faster you can start reaching and engaging with your target audience on the social media platform, despite using the same content in different formats.
Louis Vuitton posts beautiful and quirky Reels to showcase its brand and new collections. The following Reel garnered more than 5M views.
4. Reels content is permanent
Unlike Instagram Stories that expire in 24 hours (unless you save them as Highlights), Reels, once posted, stay on your profile forever. What’s more, Instagram algorithms will always give their latest feature (currently Reels) extra love, in an effort to help drive faster adoption. Therefore, it is a good idea to jump on the bandwagon and create Reels that have the tendency to go viral while older Reels can continue to rack up views.
5. Short attention span? No problem!
Because Reels are short, people are more likely to save and watch them on repeat, reinforcing the content and keeping your brand top of mind. To maximize your chances of this happening, focus on designing high content value packed into bite-sized pieces that can come together seamlessly in a video under 30 seconds long.
To capture attention, focus more on the aesthetics of the video. You can use a low-budget and beginner-friendly tool like Boosted and create videos that are smart, attractive, and easy to create.
On Boosted, specifically, you can pick a template and personalize it to fit your business. Experiment with color palettes, music, fonts, and templates.
6. Much loved by a younger demographic
According to Statista, 50+% of the Instagram population worldwide is aged 34 years or younger. This places them in the right demographic to know about Reels and be avid viewers. If your target audience falls in this age group, it might be worth it to start posting Reels.
Just because the Instagram feature comes with a plethora of benefits and is ideal for many brands, it does not mean it is perfect for your business. Let us study some of its cons:
- While organic reach means that you do not have to spend ad money on your Reels, it also means that you cannot boost your Reel viewership by paying more money. If people do not find you organically (or if your content does not go viral), they would not see you.
- As a Business account, you cannot add music to your Reels. You can only add original audio clips made by other Instagram users. This can dampen your creativity to an extent.
IGTV is more like Instagram’s version of YouTube. It lets you upload video content between one and ten minutes long. The content is often professionally shot and edited, the same way one would treat a mainstream advertising campaign or TV show.
IGTV is where you can go in-depth with your content for viewers who want more than just a taste. You can share a detailed product review, a chat with a relevant industry influencer, run an extensive Q&A with a customer, and so forth.
IGTV is also the place to share cinematic ads to wow your customers with high-quality visuals and encourage them to make a purchase right away. As of December 2020, 23% of Instagram users have watched IGTV videos at some point over the year — which means your potential addressable market is a pretty big one.
IGTV opens up new avenues for brands who want to enhance their Instagram marketing strategy by focusing on videos. Here are its benefits:
1. Prominence on the Instagram Explore page
IGTV videos are a lot more eye-catching, quite literally. It has its own dedicated tab on the Instagram Explore Page. It gives you a massive opportunity to attract new audiences.
For instance, set attractive video thumbnails so that the viewer’s attention goes to the videos instantly. General interest news website Vox’s IGTV videos are short and educational. Their thumbnails are on point, too. Have a look below:
2. Lengthier videos, more value
IGTV lets you add more value through the length. When the situation calls for a detailed discussion, such as a complex topic dissected or an annual product round-up, IGTV is the way to go. You can create videos addressing your customers’ pain points, their interests, and so on.
3. Host a brand-specific Q&A or panel discussion
With IGTV, you can host your own version of a weekly show. The IGTV feature lets you upload series, which are basically videos slotted under the same category. You can upload weekly or biweekly videos that feature, say, interviews with influencers or an in-depth discussion on product categories.
Jewelry brand Mejuri does a weekly series on their IGTV channel called “Inbox Stories,” where they interview influencers and get the stories behind their most-loved jewelry pieces.
Customers looking for those can then find all the relevant videos under one convenient tab — which, in turn, boosts viewership for you.
4. Establish yourself as an industry leader
Given the length of the videos, IGTV is the perfect way to enhance your reputation as an authority in your field – either as your company or as a “personal brand.” Through high-quality content, you can become a go-to source of information for your audience, boosting your brand value.
5. Add closed captions to your videos
IGTV provides automatic captions in 16 languages, making it ideal for reaching users worldwide and including differently-abled Instagram users. Make your IGTV channel more efficient and inclusive to watch.
According to True Insights, IGTV has witnessed a 75.6% decline in median engagement in 2020 itself. This is not surprising because of the disadvantages, as mentioned below, that IGTV brings to the table:
- The chief downside of IGTV is that there is no scope for monetization. Unlike YouTube, there is no native advertising platform, which means that brands have no real direct incentive to create detailed, high-quality content – only audience engagement and building ad audiences for retargeting campaigns.
- Searchability for IGTV videos is also not as good as YouTube. People discover IGTV videos based on what the Instagram algorithm shows them, which in turn depends on the user’s interests and accounts followed. So if people do not find you organically, there is no real way you can promote your IGTV video to reach them.
- There is no in-app editing option for IGTV videos. You need to do all of the editing separately and upload the final product, which can be inconvenient if there are last-minute changes you think of after uploading the video.
- The length of the videos might deter a large chunk of your potential audience with lower attention spans. If your content does not engage them right off the bat, they may not watch all the way through.
So, which should you go for? IGTV or Reels? The truth is, both options have their pros and cons that deserve consideration, and brands might want to go for one or the other or even both, depending on their goals and budget.
In short, while Reels are perfect for offering a sneak peek into something and whetting the viewer’s interest, IGTV videos provide extensive value and come with solid takeaways for the viewer. You also need to take into account your target audience demographics.
Therefore, if you are looking to ace your Instagram video presence, a judicious mix of both can help you reach a broader audience and earn their sustained interest.
6 Connect with him Twitter @belanigaurav.