🎥 Reels Really Explained for Real
Instagram Reels must stand for "reel-y confusing," but rest easy, you're not alone. Instagram Reels are new, and are shifting the decade-old photo-centric platform by a lot - which is making things feel a bit all over the place - so we (ahem - Corrie) wanted to cover the "who, what, where, when, and what the heck" of Instagram's newest push - Reels.
To understand why Reels are a thing, it's important to understand how Meta (Facebook) was losing users to competing app, TikTok. Unlike the photo-focused platform of Instagram with beautifully curated feeds and follower/following metrics that guaranteed limited reach, TikTok opened the floodgates to creating seemingly overnight sensations. In the world of marketing, we call this "opportunity," and so did millions of users (graph below from 2018 - and that's pre-pandemic).
Why did people prefer TikTok over social media behemoth, Instagram? According to Instagram, 😍 it's TikTok's relaxed algorithms and verticle video content that kept users comin' back again and again to hear the next trending song about corn.
👀 Instagram wasn't one to be above copycatting what was working for its competition and snuck Reels into its platform in 2020 limiting the videos to 60 seconds (two-thirds shorter than TikTok's 3-minute limit - TikTok is now at 10-minute limits for some creators).
With a loosening of the unforgiving Instagram algo and the new ability to possibly go viral on a platform we've come to know and (debatably) love, users flocked back to Instagram torn between now two very similar apps.
💰 But Instagram wasn't stoppin' at completely copying the Bytedance-owned company - to counter TikTok's Creator Fund - the payment paid towards creators who merit a certain number of views - Instagram launched the Reels Play Bonus Program (weirdly long name, but I digress).
How to sign up? 🤔 Well - here's the thing - you can't. You've gotta be "chosen" and to be chosen? You've gotta be producing content - Reels content - on Instagram. Once offered access to the program, a window opens up for 30-days with a payment threshold essentially saying, "If you can get X views, we'll pay you Y - but you have to do it before the door closes by Z." Once the door closes, you're booted from the Bonus Play Program until the offer randomly appears again and the entire process repeats.
To get into the "pay-to-play" platform, your Reels must follow these rules:
Once you sign up, though - 🤑 the cold hard cash spends well. Corrie got a payout of $500 before she reached the cap (Facebook / Meta require your tax details for reporting - so none of that "under the table" stuff).
So - should you be creating Reels?
The answer? It depends. Like I always say - it comes down to a math problem. If you want to get more followers - Reels would be your best bet. If you want to get more local sales? I think your time would be better spent hosting a pop-up or teaching a cookie class. If you're selling to other bakers? Reels may be a quick ticket to them - but then again, it may be a quick ticket to going viral for all the wrong saran-wrapped reasons.