Instagram has made cloning its competition a billion-dollar strategy. Remember Snapchat? These days, neither do we.

An essential social media platform for brands of all sizes, Instagram remains the channel of preference to a coveted younger demographic who prefer its simple and visual-first interface. Why? Reinvention. As new tools, features or other social platforms come online, Instagram has been quick to adapt, evolve, and, as was the case of Snapchat, conquer.

So it was only a matter of time before Instagram developed its offensive to the latest social media darling, the wildly popular short-form video editing platform TikTok. With its financial muscle, built-in global audience and influence, Instagram has the gravitational pull to take what emerging channels do so well, and, often do it better. 

Justin Lee is director of social media and content strategy at Commit Agency, an award-winning advertising agency in Chandler.

Call it a clone or call it smart business, say hello to Reels, Instagram’s newest channel-within-a-channel that aims to bottle the viral allure of TikTok and integrate it into its native experience. As TikTok has earned the title of being the most downloaded app of any kind in 2020, the pressure is on for Reels to thrive.

Here are some tips and insights on ways your brand can begin to leverage Reels.

Learn and Observe TikTok

A vast majority of creators use TikTok and Reels simultaneously. With so many of the most viral videos on Reels repurposed TikTok videos, as a brand you can be more strategic in your approach to the types of content that might—or might not—work on Reels. What trends on TikTok one week might do the same on Reels the next.

New Content Opportunities

As Instagram in-feed content becomes increasingly editorial and curated, Reels allows brands an exit ramp to more freedom in the content they create. Intentionally more casual, content on Reels should feel authentic. The content is also entertainment-focused. For advertisers, it’s not about a polished ad, it’s about finding creative and informational ways to deliver your brand story to your audience. Keep the execution fun, educational and less manicured—think about creating quirky shoppable posts, humorous how-tos or demos, customer case studies or testimonials and recaps of special events. Continually look for engaging behind-the-scenes opportunities to highlight your brand from new angles.

Platform Priority

Unlike Instagram Stories, where content disappears in 24 hours, Reels is an expanded and more permanent venue for sharing. The opportunity to gain wider exposure increases dramatically on Reels vs. both Stories and in-feed posts. In fact, brands on Instagram who create content on Reels get repaid organically with increased visibility on the app’s Discover Pages with those who may not already follow them. You can grow your fanbase not by traditional engagement, but by raw views.

Creative Ways to Advertise

And, while you can’t currently advertise directly on Reels, with separate in-feed ads or boosted posts, its format is ideal for leveraging creators and social influencers on your brand’s behalf. Tap into new and expanded audiences by partnering with relevant digital personalities to create authentic content that resonates with their followers.


Justin Lee is director of social media and content strategy at Commit Agency, an award-winning advertising agency in Chandler.