The coolest new Instagram feature and the infinite creative marketing possibilities it offers
On August 5, 2020, Instagram launched its newest feature — Reels: a fun way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on the platform. This feature offers creators the option to create videos shorter than 30 seconds. These can have several clips with audio, effects, and a multitude of other creative tools.
As with any new feature on any social media platform, Instagram has been promoting reels to a wide audience. The focus has shifted from picture to videos, and the newest short-video format has been taking the platform by storm. This is why several writers, content creators, singers, and dancers have been taking to the platform to reach more users.
Reels are also a great opportunity for small business owners to promote their products and services. As such, Instagram is a powerful tool for small business owners because:
- As of July 2020, there are one billion active users on Instagram. 500 million of them turn up daily.
- Over 130 million users engage with shopping posts each month.
- The brand engagement rates on Instagram are 10x higher than Facebook.
- One-third of all Instagram users have purchased at least once through the mobile app.
This post discusses six creative ways people have used this feature to promote their business and the kinds of results they have achieved. It also discusses the creative freedom reels gives to content creators, and how you can apply these to your business to see amazing returns.
Note: The small businesses mentioned here are based in different parts of the world and offer a variety of products and services. The post isn’t sponsored, nor have I received any free product in exchange for a review. I selected the posts based on the “top” section on Instagram, and among all the content posted by these accounts, I picked the ones with the highest engagement.
1. Glittery Video Montages of New Product Launch
Number of followers of creator: 235,000+
Netherlands-based poet and artist Danica Gim recently launched a new range of stickers for her art business. She shot a reel showcasing her new range of stickers that had much more engagement than all her recent posts.
- A glittery filter made the stickers look more appealing.
- An upbeat song in the background is a perfect way to capture the user’s attention.
- Each sticker is shown for barely a second — making the user want to watch the reel over and over again. This gathers more views and makes the engagement of the post much better.
2. New Product Flip-Through
Number of followers of creator: 1,097
India-based artists Akshita and Gayathri launched a 2021 hand-painted calendar through their small arts and crafts business, Nerdy Strokes. Their reel offered a look at the different pages on the calendar — each page hand-painted to match the vibes of the month.
- The mellow, soothing music matches with the cool vibes and predominant colors seen in the video.
- There’s a small section of text announcing the dates until which the calendar is open for pre-order.
- The caption makes it clear where users can place their orders.
- Only a few pages are shown — revealing enough to pique the user’s curiosity, but not enough to not leave anything new or surprising for them to discover when they receive the product.
3. Behind-the-Scenes of How a Product Is Made
Number of followers of creator: 10,400+
Chicago-based engineering student Iman El-Bawab shared a behind-the-scenes reel on The Love of Cats Etsy — their side hustle that designs, makes, and sells crochet animals. This reel is a multi-clip video that shows the various stages that go into making a crochet animal. Towards the end, the video also offers a glimpse at the finished product.
- The stages in making the crochet animal show the time and effort it takes into building a product. This will make the user appreciate the love that small business owners put into each stage of finalizing their finished product.
- The upbeat music and vibrant colors of the video make it look more appealing.
- The final product is shown only for a moment, and in that glimpse, it looks impossibly adorable, making the impulsive buyer in me want to order a piece right away!
4. Assembling a Product
Number of followers of creator: 3,545
Based out of the Bay area, Euphoria Jewels, a jewelry business, frequently shares reels about the various small steps they take into assembling a piece of jewelry and preparing it for shipping. Coupled with upbeat music and glittery filters, these go a long way into reinforcing in the minds of readers the kind of effort it takes to run a small business.
- Glittery filter and warm tone to make the product look more appealing.
- Beautiful packaging to make the users who haven’t purchased from the shop before want to make their first order.
- It’s a smart move to pack so much content in a 15-second video that users can’t take their eyes off the screen even for a moment.
5. Packaging a Product and Making It Ready for Shipping
Number of followers of creator: 74,200
Isabela Schielke Studio is a small business that sells stickers and art prints. One of their recent reels showing how the products are packed went viral and earned the account a lot of love from users all over the world.
- The owner is shown picking up several pretty stickers from among a collection of several similar ones. This makes the user want to own some of these beautiful stickers.
- Right from picking up the products to putting them in an envelope — the user gets to see how each order is packaged with love.
- The warm tones and calm music add more appeal to the already aesthetic stickers — evoking several emotions of want in the user.
6. What Goes Into Making a Product From Scratch
Number of followers of creator: 51,700+
Tahlia Stanton is a pop-expressionist artist working from Daylesford, Australia. She has grown a community of 290,000+ followers on TikTok and is currently focusing on Instagram to sell her art prints.
- A multi-clip video showing several stages of her artwork “The Next Step” being painted.
- The reel doesn’t have any music, rather the author has voiced it over, talking about her inspiration behind the artwork, what she interprets of it, and how it helped her.
- The spray of colors, various elements used in the painting, and the insights of the creator add a personal touch to the reel, which only makes the user feel more connected to it and want to own it.
There are a number of creative ways to put the Instagram reels to use. But the small businesses I mentioned here have used them to:
- Showcase a new range of product launches.
- Flip-through and glimpses of a new release.
- Behind-the-scenes series of video clips showing how a product is made.
- What goes into taking the parts together to assemble the finished product.
- How the products are packaged by hand and shipped off to their new homes.
- Building a product from scratch with a commentary about the insights, motivation, and takeaway.
Though all these reels are different, what ties them together is the personal touch of the business owner. Since a picture can only show the final product, reels are a great way to show the audience what goes on behind each finished product they see. It makes the users connect to the creator. Reels also make them realize how much effort goes into making something look effortless.
If you’re a small business owner looking to get started on Instagram, using reels might be a great option for you. Don’t hesitate to bare it all and get vulnerable. Make the audience feel like they are a part of the process and not mere bystanders. Make them understand that they aren’t just buying a product, they are buying a piece of your soul and pushing your dreams forward.
Keep creating new content. You never know which reel might be the next viral post that would catapult your business from relative oblivion to great heights.