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Why Instagram’s New Stories Feature ‘Reels’ Should Be on Your Brand’s Radar

Tech

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Reels aims to attract more music-loving video makers to the platform and enhance partnership opportunities for brands.

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Instagram is looking to harness the power and popularity of lip-syncing apps like TikTok by introducing its own tool to make music videos to Stories.

Dubbed “Reels,” the video-music feature can be found in the Stories shutter modes tray alongside “Boomerang” and “Super-Zoom.” The feature is currently available both on iOS and Android in Brazil as part of an initial test phase.

At its core and much like TikTok, Reels allows users to record 15-second videos synced to music or other audio. These clips can be either recorded in silence or with snippets borrowed from an in-app catalog or another video found through the hashtag search or Explore or doing a search of popular and trending songs.

“Instagram Stories has always been a home for expression, and we believe this new format has huge potential to enable more creativity for people.” shared Director of Product, Robby Stein.

From an editing standpoint, the collection includes a variety of creative tools including speed, time, a countdown clock, and a ghost mode that makes it easier for users to line up transitions so they appear more fluid. Specifically, they’ll have the ability to overlay the last frame of their previous video over the camera video. As far as filters and special effects, two elements TikTok has become notorious for, these will come as the rollout continues.

The growth of video and creative tools

It’s no secret video is taking marketing by storm. In fact, according to recent figures, by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic, 15 times higher than in 2017.

“Video and creation tools have really unlocked a surge of usage,” said Stein in a statement to Variety. While videos made with Reels will primarily live in personal stories, the Closed Friends option, or direct messages, it is the hope that gradually it will become integrated across other areas of the app including the Explore tab.

“Over 50% of accounts use Explore every month,” he added. Additionally, in a nod to its own ephemerality, Instagram is allowing users to add Reels to their Highlights section where they can pop up on Explore even after the 24-hour mark hits.

Bringing authenticity and experiences back to digital marketing

While the platform credits TikTok for spearheading the evolution of this format, Instagram is eager to make this a unique experience for itself and brands holding the concept of sharing video with music as universal. The trick, of course, will be getting the Instagram audience to undergo a shift away from the carefully filtered and edited content that dominates the app compared to the raw, authentic content of a competitor like TikTok.

If it’s successful, brands could have a window of opportunity for new partnerships fueled by experience-driven engagement, creativity, and self-expression that audiences, especially Gen Z, favor. In line with a separate update to remove like counts from posts, this added feature may support the app in its push to promote a more positive, less pressurized environment where people are more comfortable expressing who they are versus an image they feel they have to project.

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