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The Latest on Reels: What you Need to Know about Meta’s Subtle but Important Change

By March 24, 20235 min read

In case you missed it (#ICYMI), Meta made an update last week that impacted the way video content is posted and served to users. If you’re using Social Assurance to manage marketing workflows and publish directly to social channels, no need to worry–we’ve got you covered (more on that below). Here, we’ve broken down what this development means for social media managers and content marketers using these platforms to reach their audiences.

What are Reels? 

A Reel is a piece of video content that lives in several places within Instagram as well as Facebook. First introduced in 2020, Reels are video clips and can be up to 90 seconds in length. They appear under the Reels icon within a user’s profile, as well as in the Reels feed, which users can access by tapping the second-to-right icon in the footer navigation of the Instagram app.

Reels also exist in Instagram’s video feed, which means they get served up to people browsing video content. A number of factors make Reels useful for getting eyes on your content, including the following: First, they are served to users based on algorithms that predict what users are interested in to provide them content they’re more likely to watch and engage with. Secondly, reels have a swipe-up-style navigation interface, making it very easy to swipe from one video to the next. Reels also appear to Facebook users under the Watch tab. 

Why Reels Matter

Reels have incredible potential when it comes to growing your social followers and your online audience in general. “What’s especially interesting about Reels,” says Social Assurance’s Founder and CEO Ben Pankonin, “is that they have a substantially higher opportunity to go viral because of the way they’re served up to users through the video feed algorithms. We’ve seen a shift happening over the last couple years where, Instagram especially, favors video content,” he adds, noting that the platform has made many tweaks and evolutions over that time to respond to the premium placed on video content by both content creators and followers.

In short, posting Reels can drastically increase engagement because they’re more likely to reach not only more followers, but also people who don’t follow your page. This creates huge opportunities for net new followers on your pages. 

Reels and video content in general can do a number of other great things for your business, like humanizing and personalizing your brand, increasing employee engagement, and establishing trust within your community–which is especially critical amid uncertainty. 

What Changed this Week

This week, Meta (the company behind Facebook and Instagram) made a small but important change to the way Instagram in particular handles posted video content. Historically, when uploading a video, you had the option to choose whether it would appear as a reel or a post on your profile. Now, when you post a video to Instagram, it is automatically a Reel.

Why is this important? It means all video content now aggregates into the Reels video feeds for both Instagram and Facebook, giving it more opportunities to reach more people.

Three Key Takeaways for Brands & Businesses

1. If you’re using Social Assurance, you’re all set. 

We’re committed to evolving as social platforms change to ensure our users–who must use these channels in an efficient and compliant fashion–have what they need to stay on trend. When you go to publish a video through the platform, it automatically detects that it will be published as a Reel. You’ll notice the Reel icon over top of the video preview. As always, the platform supports a number of different preview ratios, including four-by-three, sixteen-by-nine, and one-by-one. We recommend posting Reels in a vertical or portrait format for the best engagement. 

2. Video presents huge opportunities to engage with your audience and community. 

Not only are the major social platforms increasingly positioned to favor video, but users increasingly prefer it. The rise of platforms like TikTok—and the regulatory decisions being made about them—will only further impact the emphasis on video content across social media platforms. While it can feel stressful for marketing teams without video experience, these platforms don’t have to be intimidating. In fact, the informal nature of social media means that audiences don’t expect highly produced or high-budget edits on videos–even those that come from major brands. In short, social video content is incredibly accessible. 

3. Not all online audiences are created equal. 

The way content is displayed can impact the value of a page’s captive audience. On TikTok, for example, content is displayed so that just about anything can go viral. Stated another way, video content isn’t necessarily served up to existing followers; it’s served to users the algorithm thinks will spend time watching it. This inherently makes a massive TikTok following fundamentally less valuable than, say, an Instagram or Facebook following. 

What This Means 

So, what does all this mean to community banks, credit unions, and financial brands? It means a consistent and engaging video presence–even just a couple a month–can pay huge dividends for your brand’s social media presence. It can get your brand in front of a broader audience, increase brand recognition overall, and help instill trust by presenting the names, faces, and real people who serve your customers and members every day. 

Need a Hand? 

Interested in ramping up your organization’s social media presence? Social Assurance can help. We work with community-focused financial brands all over the country to leverage social channels and to ensure that they coexist with content across all major digital channels. In doing so, we’re able to drive marketing outcomes to specific goals like increasing deposits, lowering average account age, and bigger-picture goals like building resilience when consumer confidence wavers. 

Interested in working together to do all or some of the above?

Jess Doerr

Jess Doerr is the client services manager for Social Assurance where she develops and oversees client projects. If she's not at the office, she's probably on her boat, on her bike, or in her garden.