In July 2021, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announced that the platform will be focusing on promoting Reels and not static feed posts in the future. Therefore, it is safe to say that short-form video marketing is blowing up.
The algorithm is changing, here is how you can utilize Instagram Reels and short-form video to elevate your marketing strategy and generate more sales.
The Instagram Algorithm
The algorithm is an elusive beast. Rapidly evolving and highly intelligent, it’s the decisive factor of any business’s organic growth. As business owners, it’s important to understand how the algorithm works in order to sell our products using social media.
There isn’t just ‘one’ algorithm. Instagram has been transparent about how ‘the algorithm’ is a series of processes and artificial intelligence that find, watch, and track how people interact with content when it appears on their feed. Instagram aims to curate personalized feeds for each of its users to maximize the benefit users gain from spending time on the app.
This is the main reason Instagram no longer chronologically orders feed posts (much to the disdain of many social media marketers), arguing that content which resonates with users is being highlighted by the app.
So how does Instagram decide this?
Relationship – most of what people see in their feeds are posts by people they follow. Instagram assumes if the user is often engaging with your posts, this means they want to see the content you are sharing. Thus, your content is likely to rank higher on their feed.
Signals – these are the information points about the specific post Instagram tracks.
Who posted it? If the content creator has had a lot of engagement recently, Instagram will rank the post higher in users’ feeds. Therefore, engagement is vital to success. Instagram also analyses if the user may find other content by this creator interesting and will rank it accordingly.
User activity. Instagram tracks the user’s activity, especially what they have liked, in order to curate content for the user. Frequent interactions with specific creators will cause content by this creator to appear more often on the user’s feed.
Information about the post. Location, what is posted, the caption etc. are all analyzed by Instagram and ranked accordingly.
Time – Time is a metric that Instagram tracks to decide where posts should appear on users’ feeds. The post time of the content, the amount of time the creator spends engaging with users both before the content is posted and after and the amount of time users spend on the app are all signals used to rank content.
Watch time and engagement are important metrics for creators to track. The more time people spend viewing your content, the higher it will rank. Greater engagement with your content will rank it higher on feeds, the explore page and Reels.
Instagram also heavily analyses how much time users spend on the app and how they spend that time. Instagram Reels is getting thrown into the spotlight, as Instagram wants to rival TikTok and users have been dedicating more time to Reels than before.
Interactions – did the user actively search your content, either by looking through the hashtags or by searching your name? If so, Instagram will promote this content more. How many people tag their friends in your posts or save your posts? How often is your content being shared? The higher all of these are, the more promotion your content is going to get by Instagram.
Instagram Reels are going to be heavily pushed by the algorithm and will now be the main form of growth for creators. Reels are designed for entertainment, and the key thing you need to know about them is that the greater entertainment or value a user receives from that Reels, the higher the likelihood it will be promoted. Entertaining Reels that promote your product will result in sales.
Another thing to be aware of is the algorithm for Reels isn’t perfect yet. Instagram is still learning what people enjoy watching and are gearing the algorithm toward smaller creators, which means now is the BEST time for you to start incorporating Reels into your growth strategy.
These are the key signals Instagram ranks Reels on.
Engagement – Watch time, shares, likes, comments, and the number of users who click on the audio from your Reels are all key determinants of if a Reels is going to be ranked or not. Instagram wants Reels that are entertaining, thus, watch time is critical. Creators need to make sure people are watching their content in its entirety and have incentive to interact with that content – calls to action have never been more important.
History – Has the user interacted with you before? Has the user interacted with people you follow or creators who are in your niche? All of these determine if a Reels will make it into a user’s feed. Instagram gauges a user’s interest in your content by their previous interactions, and if they have interacted with you before, it is more likely your content will appear on their feed.
Quality of the Reels – sound, pixels and popularity are all tracked by Instagram. Using high-quality trending sounds and having quality video footage is going to rank you higher.
Creators should focus on creating quality, entertaining Reels that drive engagement to successfully grow on Instagram using Reels.
How to Grow Your Instagram Using Reels
Tactics that can help you grow your Reels include utilizing engaging hooks, investing in quality, consistency, and prioritizing engagement. It’s important to create quality Reels in order to sell your products.
Hooks are the catchy opening lines of your Reels that catch the user’s interest. Usually in the first 1-2 sentences, you need to capture the user’s attention so that they watch your Reels in its entirety. Remember, watch time is an important metric Instagram uses to rank Reels, so the longer someone watches your Reels, the better.
The average person’s attention span is now eight seconds. On a platform where users have access to millions of different content within seconds, it is even less. You have 1-2 seconds to capture your audience’s attention, or they will scroll away. Here are some tricks.
- Utilize urgency and voice to capture your audience’s attention.
- Find problems your target audience faces and emphasize your product as the solution within the first two sentences.
- Tailor your hook to your content type. If your content is comedic, think of a short, snappy humorous hook that will delight your audience. If it’s a sales pitch?
- Confidently identify the problem and how your product can solve it in the hook.
Quality is vital to ensuring watch time and better ranking Reels. Bad sound, blurry footage and distracting backgrounds distract from your product, and your content won’t rank as well.
Consistency is key. Experiment at first and then stick to a consistent posting schedule that works for your brand. When is your target audience most active? When do you get the highest engagement on your posts? When is the easiest time for you to stick to uploading every single day?
Prioritize engagement. Instagram has been open about how engagement is really the key to success to growing with Reels. Prioritize interacting with accounts 15 minutes before and after posting to be able to boost your engagement ranking. This may be difficult for business owners, but it is definitely worth it for the engagement boost this will grant your Reels.
The Instagram algorithm is ever evolving to coincide with trends within the digital sphere. This isn’t always a bad thing. As business owners it is our role to keep on top of trends and changes to maximize our growth strategy.
Instagram Reels are an effective way to grow and can be cross posted to TikTok to boost growth significantly. Short-form video is the new age of digital marketing, so devoting a decent part of your marketing strategy to this sphere will reward your brand tenfold. Just remember, it takes time to organically grow on social media. Be consistent and don’t give up – results will come in time.