Recently, Instagram announced they were “no longer a photo-sharing app” but instead putting focus on video creation. Cue creative entrepreneur panic. I mean, did you find yourself thinking: What does that mean for my business? I don’t know how to create an Instagram Reel? I don’t have time for another marketing tactic. Why is Instagram even doing this?
Then, friend, this week’s episode of the Priority Pursuit is for you.
Mallory Balducci, co-owner of Willow and Grace Boutique and a digital content creator is also located here in Lafayette, Indiana and joined me on Priority Pursuit to share her experience and tips on how to use Reels for your business on Instagram, including how to create and produce video content.
Instagram is an important marketing and networking tool for many creative entrepreneurs. It’s a critical way to connect, network, share what’s happening with your business, and stay top of mind with your followers. With these changes, it’s important to understand how the latest algorithm may impact how you’re currently using the social platform and what you need to know for the future (like learning how to use Reels for your business!).
So, what’s happening with Instagram’s algorithm change?
Instagram’s latest algorithm change was recently announced with an enhanced focus on video sharing over photo sharing. This is a monumental change for the social platform that was founded on photo sharing. (Remember the original polaroid Instagram logo?)
Now, instead of photos, Instagram is pushing video content, such as Reels, Boomerangs, Stories, and IGTV.
This change is a direct response to Instagram’s own business goals: they are invested in keeping its users scrolling on their app for as long as they can. This shift towards video is a direct response to how they are adapting to user preferences. It’s important to keep in mind that the Instagram algorithm rewards accounts that show up and prompt follower engagement. By approaching social media as a way to connect, engage, and build relationships with people, your account can grow to be a powerful tool for your business that helps you stay top of mind.
How can entrepreneurs practically adjust to this change?
With Instagram’s algorithm change, it can be hard to know where or how to adapt your business’ own Instagram strategy. Mallory shared these tips as a practical place to start:
Don’t be afraid.
This is a huge change for Instagram. That’s true, but it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a change that’s meant to hurt your business. This is an opportunity to adapt and adjust your current approach, which isn’t a cause for panic.
It’s going to be awkward, feel cringey, and may be the last thing you want to do. But, showing your face and sharing who you are helps create connections with followers so they can resonate with your brand.
In case this helps, keep in mind you are likely the one person that is going to watch the video over and over and over again. Most will only watch it once (maybe twice), so don’t let the pressure of the performance hold you back.
Start with one small thing
Don’t feel like you have to make a ton of changes all at once. Take small steps. Maybe you use your phone to share a look behind the scenes video on your Instagram story, share a boomerang, or check out your own Reels feed to start brainstorming ideas on how you can use video for your business.
Think of your Instagram account as a movie production.
You’re feeling ready (if a little nervous) to take your first small step towards creating video for your business account. Instagram offers a variety of video options and formats to consider.
Think of your stories as your “behind the scenes” moments. This is a great place to start if you are new to video content. You can start by taking at least two days a week to chat about your business, share something you learned, share a story, or other experiences for followers to engage with and help start conversations.
Reels are the movie trailers. They help draw people to your Instagram account and give an exciting look at your brand. Trailers are exciting and more bite-sized than a full length movie.
Also, Reels tend to have a longer lifespan than photo posts, so they can be a great way to share who you are and what you do. You may notice a delayed spike in views after publishing.
These are the full-length movies. Videos have to be at least a minute in length, which can be more intimidating when getting started. Many entrepreneurs leverage Instagram Live to record and save. However, recording Live videos is an added challenge and pressure, which can make it the hardest video format to plan and execute.
Breaking it Down: How to Use Reels for Your Business?
Do you remember Vine? In a similar format, Instagram Reels are short videos (typically 7-30 seconds in length) that are easy to cut and clip together, add music, and insert text or imagery. They can be viewed on Instagram in the Reels tab. Instagram is currently pushing the Reels function, which can be a powerful tool for your business.
How can I come up with topics and ideas for Reels?
- Follow What’s Trending: Reels can be recreated. You are allowed to piggy back off of other ideas and add your own inspiration. Take 15 minutes to see what songs or sound bytes are being repeated in your Reels feed. If you like the music, transition, dance moves, or challenge then save it and maybe even give it a try yourself!
- Think About Your Brand: As you save different Reels, keep your brand in mind so you can adapt your messaging to the trend. This can show off your work or be used as a way to educate your followers about your business.
- Look at Your Community: Make sure you look at what your community is involved in. Mallory shared how she follows several hashtags in her industry for inspiration (like #fashionreels or #stylereels). If you explore your community you can gain further ideas for how trending videos can relate to your business and industry.
How can I help people see my Reels?
- Think Short: Mallory shared how her shorter Reels (between 7-15 seconds) tend to perform better and increase the view count. This could be due to multiple views versus a single view for a clip that’s closer to 30 seconds in length.
- Find an Ideal Time of Day: Leverage business page insights to show when your audience is interacting. Mallory shared she was finding the best success when she engaged with followers with comments 10-15 minutes before and 10-15 minutes after posting a Reel. She also recommended posting an hour before peak times of audience engagement in order to gain some viewership and post traction.
- Be Consistent: For July, Mallory has been participating in a 30-day Reel challenge (which is a lot of videos!). Through her involvement, she’s noticed an increase in followers and views, and leveraged the opportunity to intentionally connect with her followers. Mallory learned that the Instagram algorithm loves consistency. If she found herself posting at a different time of day, the Reel didn’t perform as strongly. She recommended leveraging tools (there are tons of apps out there!) to help with reminders and planning. The algorithm will anticipate the consistency and will help push to followers so they are more likely to see the new video content.
How can I make my own Reels?
- Batch your content: Set aside intentional time to work on filming and creating your video content. Mallory recommended reserving one to two hours of time to create multiple Reels. This helps build your library of content and can give a couple weeks of content in a single session. For the boutique, Mallory is limited to the current stock so can only work a couple weeks in advance, but by batching her content, she’s able to have content available and plan accordingly. At her best, Mallory shared she was able to create 10 Reels in about two hours.
- It doesn’t have to be complicated: If stuck on ideas for video content, don’t stress over making a complicated video. Find your favorite song and add text bubbles sharing 3 things learned this week, 3 ways to wear a graphic t-shirt (or some way to educate your followers about your industry), or 3 things they may not know about you. They may not all be perfect (and some Reels you may hold in your drafts and never post). And, that’s okay. The important thing is to keep at it!
- Leverage Instagram to edit: Instagram provides some easy tools to pause, splice, and resize directly inside the app. However apps do exist for more extensive editing that is more time-consuming. Mallory shared she uses Splice (but there are many, many options available).
- Plan your time accordingly: Make a list and plan to make the best use of your time. If you’re doing something more complicated be prepared, have outfits ready or your script sketched out. Or invest in some additional tools (like a tripod to help with seamless transitions). And perhaps most importantly, if it’s not working then take a break. It’s okay to return at a later time.
I’m still feeling crazy intimated. How do I get started with Reels?
Keep in mind that you had a lot to learn in order to get where you are today. There is a reason you became a creative entrepreneur. I know it’s easy to get frustrated and feel panic over the change, especially for my fellow photographers.
But, if your ideal client is on Instagram, then it’s time to get on board and embrace the rise of video content. You’ve worked hard to get where you are and this is just one more step along the way. I know it can feel like an extra step, but taking these steps and investing in learning how to use Reels for your business may make all the difference in separating you from your competition.
Specifically for photographers, consider these ideas to get started:
- Make a Reel clipping photos. (I’ve been using Canva.)
- Grab video during a shoot or during a wedding to share on your Stories. I recognize that it can be hard to keep that top of mind in the midst of a shoot, but one thing I do is task my second shooter to capture behind the scenes shots throughout the day.
- Hire an assistant to grab behind the scenes footage exclusively for your Reels. You could consider hiring a college student or asking someone to come join you for a wedding or a shoot.
- Don’t forget that GIFs count as video content. Canva can be used to create by stitching several images together.
Join the #PriorityPursuitReelChallenge in August!
To practice and get acquainted with how to use Reels for your business, Mallory and I decided to host our very own Reels challenge in August. I hope to see you join us next month!
The Challenge: Create 10 Reels in August!
That’s just one Reel every few days. Or, if you follow Mallory’s idea of batching content, 10 Reels could be knocked out in just a couple of sessions!
If you choose to join us, I encourage you to make a list of ideas in the next couple of days!
If you’re committed to participating in the #PriorityPursuitReelChallenge:
- Be sure to use #PriorityPursuitReelChallenge in your post so Mallory and I can see your Reels and engage with you!
- Come join the Prioirty Pursuit Facebook Community. In the group you can link to your Instagram account so others can follow and engage with your Reels!
Are you ready? We’re looking forward to seeing how your creativity fuels your own Reels and videos!
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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