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24 min read | February 16, 2021

How to prepare for Instagram Reels developments in 2021

Influencer Marketing is big today. Social media companies have started to introduce various features on their platforms that, apart from providing entertainment value, will also be friendly for marketing purposes.

One such newcomer is Instagram Reels, a feature integrated within the Instagram app that allows users to create videos, as well as watch videos uploaded by other users. Its interface is similar to another immensely popular video-creating and sharing app called TikTok, where users swipe vertically on their screens to discover creative and entertaining videos uploaded by millions of users. 

Launched by Instagram in August 2020, Instagram Reels lets users create videos of upto 30 seconds. It also offers various creative editing features and tools such as music, speed effects, filters etc. with which you can modify your videos. Although similar to TikTok, there are quite a few differences between the two. Here’s how Instagram Reels compares to its older counterpart TikTok:

Instagram Reels vs TikTok

We show how Instagram Reels compares to its older equivalent, TikTok.

Standalone application that works by itself Integrated feature within Instagram app
Allows videos of upto 60 seconds to be created Allows users to create videos of upto 30 seconds
Much more variety and options of music and songs that can be added Music and songs can be added to videos from a limited number of categories
TikTok videos created by users can be downloaded with their music/audio Reels created by users can be downloaded on their phones, though audio will not be included
TikTok videos go on the main feeds page of the user Reels can be shared on Instagram’s feed, stories or in the reels tab
Has a ‘For You’ section where videos are suggested to users according to their interests and likes Has an Explore tab in which users can find Reels uploaded by users
Has a strong and effective algorithm which enables users to find videos as per their interests  Gives users more convenience to use the inbuilt editing tools and effects and make sharing with Instagram followers easy

Evolution and development of Instagram Reels

Since its inception in August 2020, Reels has come a long way. Brands and companies are vying to get the top spot in the short-video market to promote their products. Reels has been working towards adding new features to compete with TikTok and become the chosen platform for short videos. It has an advantage in the fact that it already has a huge number of users on Instagram that it can tap into. To improve Reels, Instagram has provided a dedicated tab to Reels on its home page and added a plethora of new editing tools. It has been trying to prioritize its reels feature and it has been tweaking its algorithms and design to make Reels more effective.

Example of how Instagram's new feature, instagram Reels, will be used in influencer marketing in 2021.

Predictions for Instagram Reels in 2021

So what do we predict for this newcomer on the short video market in 2021? Will it be able to displace, or even compete with the giant in this market that is TikTok? Will Reels become more suitable for influencer marketing? 

Instagram Reels does have a fair bit of catching up to do with TikTok. But having said that, it doesn’t seem that Instagram will give up easily on this. As it continues to roll out new features for Reels and tries to solidify its position, here are the predictions for Reels in 2021:

1. Reels algorithm gets more sophisticated

As it stands currently, Reels is quite a far distance behind TikTok when it comes to serving up videos customized to suit the likes of users. However, if Instagram is able to improve its algorithms to achieve that purpose, that would mark an upward move for Reels. And we can be sure that Instagram is working towards it.

2. Improved video editing tools on reels

As viewers, we want to see videos that are immersive, exciting and different. The current editing options on Instagram Reels are decent enough. But Instagram might think of putting in more advanced editing tools and features out there for the users to experiment with. That will not only generate more curiosity and interest among users but it will also have the potential to generate improved videos.

3. Monetary incentives for creators

One way to attract more users to create and upload more videos is to provide monetary benefits to them. And that is an option Instagram could look at in 2021. Doing this will open up possibilities for e-commerce. It will also attract companies and brands to tie up with influencers and prominent users to promote and sell their products. This means: A win-win situation for everyone.

4. Ads and Reels

If you can think about giving monetary benefits for creating videos, why not give incentives for watching them? As the economy becomes more and more digitalized, businesses are eager to market their products on social media platforms. Reels could become a more prominent platform if it introduces ads on reels and incentivizes watching videos. If it gives users the option to create reels in ad formats, that could open up a whole new world of possibilities for influencer marketing and business.

5. Premium version of Instagram Reels

Everyone wants to create and upload the best videos possible, and the better the editing tools and features are, the more creative the videos can be. If Instagram introduces paid features and editing tools for its Reels platform, it will enable users to upload more creative, high-quality videos which will be a win-win situation for all.

6. Reels and Influencer Marketing

The world has taken note of the effectiveness and success of influencer marketing both on the digital platform and off it. We already see the prevalence of influencers talking about products and services across areas on social media platforms. It can be predicted that Reels might become the new go-to place for businesses to use influencer marketing to promote their offerings. 

This is an area where Instagram holds a major advantage over TikTok. Instagram hosts various kinds of influential people on its platform with millions of followers, and it can leverage the Reels platform for e-commerce and product marketing. With the help of Influencer Marketing platforms which provide integrated influencer marketing services, Reels can become a prominent place for influencer marketing.

Below you will find an example of Reels from a German influencer, @leoniehanne who is dedicated to fashion. In the video she shares one of her looks with her audience. If you’d like to see her full Instagram stats, click here.

Instagram Reels where an influencer publishes her daily look in a short video format for a brand.

On the other hand, we share one of her TikToks sharing another of her looks. If you’d like to see her full TikTok stats, click here.

TikTok short video where an influencer shows her daily look to her followers

7. Instagram Reels vs TikTok aesthetics

Many will agree that Instagram has a more premium and aesthetic look and feel to it as compared to TikTok. And this might be a standout feature of Reels that will give it the edge over TikTok. Instagram may refine and work on its design to make the Reels tab look more aesthetically pleasing. This should appeal to users, influencers and businesses alike.

8. Instagram Reels Audience

An advantage Instagram has over it’s purely video-creating counterpart TikTok is that it has a much wider range of followers belonging to various age groups and demographics. There is always the possibility of users challenging each other to create the most trending and best videos possible and this will create a boom on the video-creating market.

9. Extended video length

It might be predicted that with increased demand and need, the current 30-second limit on videos will be increased to 60 seconds, something that TikTok allows to do. This will be necessary to fit in more content because the current limit may be too short for many creators and what they want to create.

Future of Instagram Reels and Influencer Marketing

So what does the future hold for Instagram Reels? Will it be able to rule the entertaining world of short-format videos and give a tough fight to TikTok? That remains to be seen. But we are talking about Instagram here. And Instagram is owned by Facebook which is today one of the most powerful companies in the world and holds a prominent position in the digital market. We can be sure that Instagram will leave no stone unturned to try and catch up to the success of TikTok and even try and displace it.

On the other hand, Influencer Marketing is here to stay. We have seen the success that influencers bring for a brand. Companies will be looking to tap into the reach of influencers on digital platforms to give them a competitive edge in the market. And which social media platform will companies prefer to market their products? It will be the platform which gives them the best of everything. It should give technology, a database of influencers and a large number of users.

Instagram Reels has already started attracting brands for their influencer marketing campaigns, and this trend will grow throughout 2021 and beyond. If Instagram is able to incorporate the necessary tools and make the required changes, it can surely be a tough competitor to TikTok. It will become the go-to platform for influencer marketing in 2021. Will our predictions for 2021 come true? Will Instagram Reels take over in 2021? Let’s wait and watch.

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