Brand ResourcesInstagram Marketing

What Brands Can Learn from Trending Reels on Instagram

Once upon a time, Instagram was just a place to share pretty pictures. Of course, a lot has changed since 2010 and now, what was once a simple feed of curated photos has expanded to Stories, live video, in-app shopping, and Reels. Reels, which was Instagram’s answer to TikTok, has become a powerhouse for brands and creators. 

That’s because we are consuming more short-form videos – 17 hours per week, on average. That’s nearly one full day a week (minus a few precious hours for sleeping and snacks). The popularity of Reels has risen in step with short-form in general:

  • Reels usage grew 57% YoY in 2023
  • Reels have the highest estimated reach of all Instagram content types
  • While engagement rates for Reels dipped slightly in 2023 from 2022, they still get higher engagement than standard image and carousel posts. And, they get more likes!
  • For smaller accounts, Reels are great for boosting visibility, with reach rates of 892% for accounts up to 500 followers, and 152% for accounts with 500-2000 followers.

Brands are taking note, with Reels making up serious ground this year in ad dollars spent, compared with TikTok.

If your brand is already incorporating Reels into its marketing strategy, then you know how important it is to keep up with what’s trending to stay relevant to audiences. 

Below, we break down what your brand can learn from trending Reels on Instagram and how to use these ideas in your brand’s creator marketing strategy. 

Take advantage of these trends in your Instagram Reels this year to get more attention and drive more action from sponsored content.

1. Invest in LOLs

Humor is a universal language — especially on social media. Many brands can appear unapproachable and closed off to their consumers online. However, if you partner with creators for Instagram Reels that make people laugh, your brand also comes off as relatable, fun, and self-aware.

This can convince skeptical potential customers to purchase from your business over another that takes itself too seriously.

2. Develop Targeted Content for Personality Types

Creating content for your target demographic is a widely recognized rule of thumb when it comes to sparking engagement. However, you can take this one step further and further niche down by curating content for specific personality types…even if they are more or less self-defined and/or based on fiction. We see you, Hufflepuffs. 

For example, publishers have created more targeted holiday gift guides in recent years, breaking down the perfect presents for travel addicts, new moms, cheese lovers, etc. Suggestions for different astrological signs and birth months have also become mainstream. This tactic continues to gain traction as it offers opportunities for personalized content and product recommendations. And, leveraging creators as “spokespeople” for categories is a more authentic way to appeal to our sense of self and to our inner impulses – especially if you’re an Aries!

3. Get Down with Dance Challenges 

Since the Harlem Shake days of 2013, dance videos have been going viral on social and lifting our moods. As soon as one dance craze fizzles out, another one pops up to replace it. 

A well-thought-out dance challenge – especially with catchy music to go with it – brings an extra layer of energy and personality to sponsored content. And, it often leads to others sharing and joining in the fun. Check out which dance challenges are making waves on Instagram – you could even work with a creator to start your own! Consider innovative ways that movement can tie into your brand to keep people bobbing their heads and grooving in their seats.

4. Strike a Chord with Original Audio

What’s a story without sound? Social video is now a hot spot for original audio, including legit songs and everyday sounds. With songs, think of these like the modern version of the cable commercial jingles from our childhoods, with lyrics or a cord you just can’t get out of your head. When music aligns with visuals and creators’ own personalities…muah! It’s a chef’s kiss for brand recall and engagement. 

Original audio became popular on TikTok, and it’s also gained ground on Reels. Brands, agencies, and even creators are taking the lead in producing original audio that just hits right. As long as the effort is made to generate snappy songs and memorable sounds, we foresee this trend continuing to top the charts in 2024.

5. Show You Care with Mission-Driven Content

Gen Z and millennials use Instagram the most, and they want to support brands that do more than just try to sell a product. They want to work with brands that give a damn about people and causes outside of purely making money. Showing (and not just telling!) that your brand has real ties to organizations that are making a difference is huge for brand sentiment. 

For example, if you sell shoes or other accessories, you could work with creators to reconstruct outfits recycled from fast fashion. It’s a win-win: you show that your brand is invested in a sustainable future, and you highlight your product through the creative stylings whipped up by your influencer partners.

Gen Z and millennials are mission-driven consumers. Caring about real-world issues is a trend that won’t go away anytime soon, and you’ll earn brownie points by acknowledging these issues, partnering with creators who share your priorities, and finding ways to make a difference while also promoting your brand.

6. Empower & Educate Viewers

Instagram Reels provides brands with a dynamic platform to educate and empower viewers on product usage. Through concise and engaging “how to” videos, brands can guide their audience on various aspects, such as selecting the best options, demonstrating proper usage, and showcasing innovative ways to wear or incorporate products into daily routines. 

Instagram Reels and Other Short-Form Content Will Elevate Your Brand

Short-form content is extremely popular. If you want to reap the benefits of this market, you must appeal to Gen Z and millennial audiences. By activating mission-driven creators, incorporating memorable dance and music elements, targeting niche personalities, and empowering your followers through ‘how-tos’, your brand will be speaking the language that audiences want to hear.

Trending Reels on Instagram will change over time, but one thing is clear: short-form content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Embrace the concepts behind these trending Reels on Instagram to up your game with audiences in the new year.

MagicLinks is proud to partner with over 35k vetted influencers and over 5k world-class brands, providing strategies, tactics, and execution on the latest social commerce trends. 

To learn more about MagicLinks or request a proposal, get in touch with our team today. 

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