Optimizing Instagram Reels and Tiktok for Businesses
From the lip-synching videos of Musical.ly to the fastest growing social media app, TikTok has started a new era of social media, and thus of social media marketing. The short-form video sharing app has inspired major social media platforms to add video functions. Among these, Instagram Reels and Youtube Shorts have staked a claim on the buzz generated by the views, engagement and following produced by video.
Where Instagram Reels became an addition to the platform to compete with TikTok, it is now a crucial affordance of the app. Once a photo-sharing platform, the popularity of TikTok has pushed Instagram to become a platform equal in its video sharing capacity.
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, stated that “We’re going to have to rethink what Instagram is,” mentioning a focus on video and growing the tool that has become Instagram Reels for the future.
Instagram Reels, TikTok and video content can no longer be pushed to the background for businesses to rely on safer, but less engaging, social media marketing strategies. As a whole, social media is a platform that can drive powerful engagement, but to reach the right audience, businesses need to include the right tools – namely, Instagram Reels and TikTok.
What is TikTok?
From 2018 to 2020, TikTok went from having 750 million downloads to 2.6 billion. Simply, TikTok is a social media platform, one that focuses on short-form video content that can be posted, shared and engaged with.
Compared to other social media platforms, TikTok is relatively simple. Users can follow, like and comment on videos, discover new videos, and scroll through the video feed of their followers as well as the “For You Page”.
The For You Page (FYP) has become a popular phenomenon for social media – an automated, algorithmic feed where users can spend countless hours scrolling through videos that are trending, constantly satiating their curiosity.
Unlike long-video content, TikTok is easy for the user. It is because of how easy it is to be drawn to the entertainment of the For You Page, that users constantly find themselves there – looking for a break from work, wanting to watch media for ten minutes before bed, etc. With short form video content, TikTok has undeniably linked a powerful appeal of the medium to people’s short attention spans.
As the early adopters of new media, TikTok’s main demographic consists of 50% of its global users under the age of 34. Thus, it has become a major source of opportunity for marketers to reach a younger age demographic and maintain brand authority.
This is not to say that older demographics do not use TikTok – social media is known for consisting of younger age demographics. Acutely, TikTok has amassed a massive trending influence. Since its inception, the demographic is growing older as TikTok becomes a source of entertainment for all age groups. Trends go viral across TikTok every week, with new music and remixes being released and sent across the For You Page.
As a society that is not majorly connected to others through our contributions online, the trends of TikTok have sparked a new way of connecting with the world. Thus, you will find businesses joining in on the trends the public do. With the virality of the music and the hit of the content, TikTok has gained its foothold amongst the best of the social media platforms for marketing power and brand influence.
Social media marketing is primarily the application of cultural knowledge to marketing decisions. As Calgary social media marketers, the essence of marketing material relies on its ability to be understood with the public, and to connect on a level that inspires engagement. TikTok supplies this engagement in the form of its trends and open adaptability to the continuous loop of video and content.
Our Calgary social media marketing agency’s core strategy has been to focus on growth through modern, organic means. TikTok and Instagram Reels, with its video creation, is a pure form of organic social media. By creating a TikTok and/or Instagram Reels account and committing to content creation, businesses can expect to:
- Reach a wider audience
- Share unique content
- Grow an engaged following
- Advertise products and services
- Share behind the scenes, brand updates and content that connects with culture, rather than remaining solely promotional, adding a face to the brand
- Maintain a channel of customer service
- Understand the interests of target audiences
- Gain cultural awareness for social media marketing
TikTok will require you to rethink the conventional wisdom of digital marketing. Prior to TikTok, digital marketing relied on content that was advertising heavy. Now, users want to connect with your brand. This connection can be achieved through the relatable, educational and inspiring videos shared on Tiktok. Once a connection is established, users will then begin to think of themselves as potential customers after you’ve proven your credibility.
As such, TikTok is less of a hard-sell platform. Take for example, Duolingo’s “unhinged” TikTok account. Duolingo is one of the most downloaded, self-teaching language apps. Instead of populating their TikTok feed with tutorials on how to use Duolingo, or sharing videos of people speaking different languages, Duolingo’s TikTok account is its owl mascot, sharing in the video trends of other TikTok users.
Duolingo uses TikTok trends to show how relatable the experience of learning a language can be. For example, Duolingo’s most viral TikTok video followed the trend created with the relaunch of Taylor’s Red album (Taylor’s version) . The TikTok trend centred around users posting videos that emulated the nostalgic heartbreak of Swift’s songs. Duolingo used this sound to post its owl mascot, with the caption “when you use Google Translate instead of actually learning a language.”
Racking up 5.1 million views, Duolingo’s TikTok account has over two million followers. With millions of views per video, as simplistic as they are, Duolingo is an example of how brands have rerouted their marketing techniques, centred on relatability and entertainment within the scope of their products or services.
What are Instagram Reels?
Known as “its attempt to keep you off TikTok,” and stay on Instagram, Instagram Reels is a form of TikTok in that it relies on a feed of short video content that can be liked, shared, commented on and remixed by using the original creator’s sound.
An Instagram Reel is an edited set of pictures or videos on Instagram. It’s often used to share what you’ve been up to, showcase a product or highlight an experience in particular. Creators are known for certain niches such as travel, humour, entertainment, beauty, design, etc.
Instagram has since become an increasingly popular social media platform for video content. While it does not have the viral popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels has maintained a strong resume for video content based off of its already existing platform.
While TikTok relies solely on the video ecosystem, videos add to Instagram’s already established social media community. TikTok trends make their way to Instagram Reels, and are a way for business and influencers to add to their feed, diversify their content, reach more audiences and show that their brand is up to date with the times. In this, Instagram Reels are as strong as TikTok for their diversity.
What are the opportunities in social media marketing with TikTok and Instagram Reels?
One of the factors that can be keeping businesses from introducing TikTok and Instagram Reels into their social media strategy is not only the work required to learn one’s way around its culture, but the presumption of the increased cost to content management and video production.
What has made Instagram Reels and TikTok so popular is not the high quality, photo-worthy feed Instagram has created a reputation for – but its practicality. TikTok does not have the pressure associated with making perfect content and posting. The idea is that content creators and businesses post regularly, and in doing so, show a more human side to their business.
An aesthetically pleasing feed is not as important as the entertainment and quality education of the video being posted. Therefore, throw aside your presumptions about the cost of doing video production for TikTok and Instagram Reels.
If you input TikTok and Instagram Reels into your social media marketing strategy, you will need to stay consistent. Your plan will require you to pay attention to trends, gather music, and think of how to use the idea of the trend and merge it with your business. One of the best features of our Calgary social media management is that we are already in tune with the trends, and know how to accurately and engagingly shape them to your mission and target audience.
The videos can be shot from your phone. The cost is the time it takes to think of the trend, shoot your idea and put it together. When compared to the cost per click of other digital marketing, as well as the print cost for traditional marketing, posting videos to TikTok and Instagram Reels will always generate an ROI – by increasing brand awareness, gaining views and marketing a side of your business that could not be done before.
Video can grow businesses’ audiences and discoverability in ways that photos and traditional digital advertising cannot. The fact of the matter is that digital marketing will always have its investing costs – however, the culture that circulates TikTok does not require the cost it takes for professional photography, but graphic design and an intuition with the media landscape.
What are the pillars of posting on Instagram Reels and TikTok?
While it can be said that there is less pressure to post content on Instagram Reels and Tiktok, that does not mean that quantity suddenly trumps quality. To be successful in marketing on Tiktok and Instagram Reels, you need to understand your target audience from this new video content perspective.
Duolingo found that it’s global audience was passionate about how relatable it’s owl was to learning languages, as they do, on the app. For smaller businesses, who will not acquire millions of followers, posting the right kind of content relies on understanding what it is your target audience is interested in, and choosing trends that allow you to best leverage this.
If you give TikTok and Instagram Reels a go by posting randomly and hoping the algorithm will make you go viral – that won’t work. You’ll have videos go viral – or gain traction – if you follow the pillars of marketing that have always sustained themselves.
As such, the pillars of posting on Instagram Reels and TikTok revolve around: education, inspiration and entertainment. If your content does not achieve one of these objectives, then you’re wasting your time creating the video for it to flop.
That being said, if you are posting content that is quality in regards to these pillars, and are getting views in the hundreds instead of the thousands – don’t give up. You’ll learn, overtime, which videos work and which don’t. There will always be content that performs better than others, just because you’ve entered the video realm does not mean that those intricacies disappear, social media marketing will still be, at times, a trial of error.
Now that you know what each of the platforms are and the scope of social media marketing, our Calgary social media marketing agency has put together 6 simple tips that will help you optimize your business’s Instagram Reels and/or TikTok production, as well as convince you why video is crucial. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to cultivate a loyal following in no time!
1.Quality of footage – smartphone or higher
It’s important to have high-quality footage for your video. Anything blurry, grainy or with other watermarks will seem not credible or organic. The best videos are shot with a smartphone. Or, some creators have created a niche using high quality DSLR cameras for content where it makes sense such as modeling, dancing, landscapes/travel, etc.
2. Make sure it’s vertical video
One of the best ways to optimize your Instagram Reels and TikTok production is to post vertical videos. Videos are more engaging when they are in vertical format because people are used to watching vertical videos on their mobile devices.
The videos on TikTok and Instagram Reels take up the entire vertical screen. You will find that horizontal videos will produce black space on the top and bottom of the screen – negatively impacting your opportunity for engagement and views.
Mobile browsing is quickly becoming the primary way people browse online content, so it’s important that you use this format for your Instagram Reels and TikTok production. Vertical videos also allow you to show more of what’s happening in the background or behind the scenes. This can include shots of employees, product shots, or details that might be hard to see in a horizontal video.
Our experiments have shown trying to recycle content from Youtube originally in horizontal formats does not do well, as their original use is evident, and thus not prioritized in the algorithm.
One of the best features about Instagram Reels and TikTok is that it is all user-generated content. As long as you have good quality video, and a vertical lens, you don’t need to sweat about the nitty gritty of photography techniques so long as you stay on top of trends, and can apply them to your brand and target audience goals.
3. Follow current sounds and trends
A successful Instagram Reels and TikTok production strategy not only relies on high-quality sound, but also themes that are trending. When a sound is trending it alerts the algorithm that users, currently, are drawn to that trend, and is where they will be more likely to place their attention.
Themes are constantly changing with the success of new hot songs, movies, etc. You do not need to fit your content to every trend, just the trends that inspire quality content in your brand, and that make sense. Not all trends will even work with the type of product or business you have. With the frequent cycle of trends, you do not need to worry about catching every single trend.
Always make sure to follow current sounds and trends to create content that resonates with your following. We recommend consistently being a consumer as well, and saving trends you think might be applicable in the future. Check trending pages for the best examples, pick content creators that those in your target audience are following. The TikTok For You Page is a great source of inspiration for current sounds that are trending.
As a business, you are separate from a creator on Instagram Reels and TikTok. As such, you will not have access to the complete music library that creators do. For the trends that go viral from the music industry, you may find that you cannot save the sound to your Instagram Reels. The way around this is to scroll through content until you find a creator that has used the audio, but in posting to Instagram Reels, the audio has become their own. For these smaller accounts, you will be able to save the audio and use it.
Oftentimes, you won’t find the viral audio you’re looking for on the first go. We recommend making it a habit to scroll through Reels on Instagram or TikTok. Over time, the algorithm will pick up on the content you prefer – which is the inspo you need for your business – and will begin regularly generating sounds and videos for your content niche.
4. Add a wow/shock factor
A video with a wow/shock factor is always going to be an enticing one. This factor revolves around the pillars of entertainment, inspiration and education. Are you creating videos just to post, or are you creating videos that will provide something valuable for the viewer? This is what creates videos that get views.
There are many ways you can do this, such as uploading a video of someone doing something unbelievable or sharing footage of a one-of-a-kind event. Showing the before and after process, a behind the scenes look, sharing information or even just having fun with the app adds to the entertainment factor.
People are more likely to share videos with their friends if they want to share a memorable feeling. The key takeaway? Adding an element of surprise will make your videos stand out and create more hype around the topic of your product or service that you’re addressing.
5. Use filters, text, hashtags, voiceover and app native tools
To create an awesome video that works on Instagram and TikTok, you have to think about the different tools that are native to the platform. Remember, Instagram Reels were created to drive competition away from TikTok, the algorithm will naturally reward the videos that are created native to the app and who use its tools.
By adding text to your videos, you are not only making it clearer to the audience of the purpose of your video, but are also embedding text that provides Instagram an additional layer of the kind of information your video is about.
Adding text increases data about your video and gives viewers context about the content. The same goes for the voiceover feature for the text. Reels’ text to speech tools allow easy voice overs without the traditional hassle. This creates an immersive visual and audio experience, ultimately more engaging for the user to follow along.
Additionally – add filters! Filters not only make your videos instantly more interesting, but they’re also fun and easy to use. To get started, scroll through the filters and experiment. Try filters that showcase beauty, seasonality, personality, etc. Overall, the filter should add to your video – in a subtle, striking or clean way.
Even though creating video content might be new for your business – don’t throw previous social media logic out of the window. Add information to your captions – they can be short, one sentence quips if the information is more visual. Or, they can be more detailed, informative guides to what your video portrays. These longer captions can keep the user on the Reel or TikTok longer, and ultimately boost engagement.
Hashtags are still a strong component to the social media game. In another comment or at the bottom of your Reel’s caption, include up to 30 hashtags relevant to the content of your post. For TikTok, use only a few hashtags and put them underneath your caption.
Don’t overuse these resources for every video: save them for when they’ll be most effective and won’t distract from your main message. Instagram and TikTok’s tools are not meant to be comprehensive for every video, but are the toolkit to your video creations.
6. Don’t recycle from Tiktok
Tiktok is an app that specializes in short videos, which are designed to be shared with others. Tiktok has found success with its addictive algorithms based largely on repeat watches and shareability. While it is natural to think that because TikTok is a predecessor of Instagram Reels, you should not assume to recycle TikTok directly onto Instagram. Reusing and recycling means you may be reposting something with reduced quality and watermarks all over. Viewers don’t like this, and it’s worth putting in the extra effort to re-create videos on both apps.
The Future of Social Media Marketing Involves Instagram Reels and TikTok
Businesses are neck and neck competing for not only user growth, but also time spent on apps. On TikTok, users watch each video as many as 10 times. Instagram has seen the success of TikTok’s addictive algorithms based largely on repeat watches and shareability. Because they want to compete, they are pushing Reels in their algorithms more than any other type of post.
Instagram has optimized their Reels for repeat views and shares. This means that Reels will rank higher in your followers’ feeds because they will see them more often. However, Instagram still has the edge for businesses because it allows many more tools – call to actions, highlights, stories and integration with ads.
As such, Instagram Reels are as vital to your social media marketing strategy as TikTok. The only way to begin your video social media strategy is to start. These platforms encourage the use of smartphones – and with knowledge of your brand, all you need to do is get scrolling and recording.
On average, our Calgary social media marketing agency has seen Reels average thousands of views versus dozens of impressions on regular image posts and hundreds of likes versus a few here and there. The future of social media marketing is video, and if you haven’t started, your social media marketing strategy is incomplete.