Instagram Reels are really beginning to pick up momentum, and become a beloved feature of Instagram users alike. I mean, I can proudly raise my hand and say that I'm a fan of the recently released feature! For a year full of changes, the launch of Instagram Reels was probably the biggest shake-up that the social media landscape has seen in quite some time, even as far back as the launch of Stories.
The quick-to-create video format closely mirrors TikTok, but it still has a long way to go to become the go-to platform for creators and brands. So what does the future hold for Instagram Reels? From algorithm changes to new ad formats being available within the feature, we’re sharing our top 6 predictions for 2021!
Prediction 1: The Reels Algorithm will become more sophisticated.
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you’ll know the algorithm, as a whole, can behave in mysterious ways. And now, with Instagram Reels in the mix, the mysteries around their elusive algorithm continue. Instagram Reels can be discovered in many places on the Instagram app — which accounts for it being a major growth hack in 2021 as there are more ways for people to find and interact with your content. In fact, there are 4 ways people can discover your Instagram Reels
The new Reels tab in the home screen navigation
Scrolling the Home feed
The Explore page
The Reels tab on individual profiles
Reels have a primary home on the new Reels tab on the home screen navigation bar. Here, instead of only seeing Reels from accounts you follow, you will see Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram. Unfortunately, the Reels algorithm hasn’t been officially disclosed yet, but it does feel similar to how the TikTok ForYou page works.
We suspect the videos you see in your Reels tab is likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located. What we can expect in the future is more transparency from Instagram on how the Reels algorithm works. Along with more advanced machine learning to identify the type of content you want to see.
Prediction 2: New Instagram Ad Formats in Reels
According to a recent report, 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase, after looking at an Instagram ad. As of late, Instagram hasn’t held back in offering multiple ad formats for brands looking to target audiences and promote their products.
Aside from the new launch of IGTV ads, you can also use traditional ad routes like photo ads, Carousel ads, slideshow ads, video ads, and Instagram Stories ads. If we compare formats, Instagram Reels and Instagram Stories are similar in many ways; both perform best with vertical content and both can be short-form videos. When it comes to discovery, Instagram Stories ads often seamlessly fit into our stories feed, with just a small sponsored post tag appearing in the top left corner of the screen. And when done correctly, an Instagram Stories ad can look just like an organic piece of content from a brand, with that swipe up link delivering serious traffic to your site.
Now imagine what an Instagram Reels ad could look like — it could also be a 15-second video, with a subtle “sponsored” tag in the caption or video. The major benefit of introducing a Reels ad format would be that Instagram has its own dedicated Explore page for Reels, making it a great way to reach new audiences. Plus, the super-scrollable (and slightly addictive!) nature of Reels means it’s very easy for an ad to appear on someone’s feed without interrupting their scrolling patterns. The cons? Well, there’s no swipe up link on Instagram Reels (yet!). So potentially Instagram could look to add this feature or introduce clickable links in captions like IGTV.
Prediction 3: New and Improved Video Editing Tools
There’s no denying that TikTok reigns supreme when it comes to video editing features — you can master transitions, add voice effects, add text, apply AR filters, and even colour correct your footage all within TikTok. So the Instagram Reels video editor has some serious catching up to do!
When Reels first launched in August 2020, most brands and creators repurposed their TikTok videos and posted them to Reels, which saw a lot of repetitive content like TikTok challenges appearing on our Instagram feeds.
Ultimately, it all comes down to how easy it is to create dynamic and original content on TikTok. One quick win which we predict Instagram will release in 2021 is the introduction of a voiceover tool on Reels.
Prediction 4: More Video Collaborations options to improve Video Virality
TikTok is known for its quick-to-go-viral status, where a simple video can garner hundreds of thousands of likes in a day (sometimes even less!). With TikTok already have easily accessible collaboration functions in Duets and Stitch, there isn't yet a feature to compare on Instagram Reels - users can only record their own footage or upload content from their camera roll.
So if Instagram wants to help brands and creators go viral on Reels, introducing collaboration features will really help spread the reach of each individual video post. Plus, it’s a great way to engage with your community — a win-win for all sides!
Prediction 5: the Reels aesthetic will remain more polished than TikTok
One of the major pros of posting a Reels video is that it has multiple homes on your profile — it can live on your Instagram grid, or in the new dedicated Instagram Reels tab on your profile. If you want to share Reels to your profile grid (which is a great way to gain valuable extra exposure and boost your virality), it’s worth thinking about how they will look alongside your other posts.
Your top 9-12 Instagram posts are often the first pieces of content that visitors to your profile will lay eyes on — and they can be the deciding factor for whether someone hits the “Follow” button or not. So, if your Reels are disrupting your aesthetic, they could be slowing down your growth. A strong first impression counts on Instagram, especially when it comes to converting visitors into followers.
Prediction 6: Instagram Reels Video length extended to 60 seconds.
Instagram Reels allows you to record 15 to 30-second clips set to music on Instagram. Whereas on TikTok, users can record videos for up to 60 seconds. And even though it’s only a 30-second difference, users were quick to point it out. Depending on the content you like to post, the 30-second max on Instagram Reels could feel short. Or if you’re creating content around the 60-second mark, it might feel too long for Instagram Stories, yet, too short for IGTV.
So there’s a real opportunity for Instagram to find a home for this middle-of-the-road, hyper-engaging content on Reels. For now, though, we recommend keeping your videos less than 15 seconds, as they will automatically play in the Instagram feed.
And that’s it — all our top predictions for 2021 and the future of Instagram Reels!
While Instagram has a long way to go to be par with TikTok, there’s huge potential for brands and creators to tap into Reels now, and reap the rewards in the near future! Just ensure you are really experimenting with them within your content strategy for the new year, and becoming more creative with what you share!