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Unpopular Opinion: Reels Are NOT the Way to Sales Growth on Instagram

If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve probably heard about Reels by now. Reels are a relatively new feature on Instagram that allow you to create short videos with music, transitions, and effects, right in the app. Reels was originally launched as an effort to compete with the popular app TikTok, and while they may seem like a fun way to promote your business, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be!

The Problem with Reels

Reels are recommended to you based on the people you follow and the content you’ve liked in the past, similar to your Explore page. You can open Reels by pressing the middle button on the bar at the bottom of your screen, the same place where you used to press to create a new post.

As you open Reels, you’ll be able to swipe up and down to see new videos.

Now, let’s talk about where it gets messy. Instagram’s algorithm is the biggest issue here. While they do take into account posts you’ve liked in the past and accounts you follow while recommending Reels, the audio and texts in previous Reels you’ve liked also comes into play.

Let’s say you use a popular song in the background of one of your Reels. Someone may like a completely unrelated video that uses the same song, and suddenly see your Reel pop up on their page just because of the audio file.

This is also true for the text you write. For example, you may write, “New fall items available for purchase!” on your Reel. Just because you used the word “fall,” people who have liked Reels about things like fall-themed food and drinks, fall activities, or fall travel ideas may suddenly be recommended your completely unrelated Reel.

How Audio Files Play a Role

Using a pre-loaded audio file in the background of your Reel can sometimes be problematic. At the bottom of a Reel, you’ll notice that you can click the audio file the creator has used to see all the other Reels that use the same audio.

Some people use certain audios to create “trend” type videos, where each user creates a video with a similar concept using the same audio as another. While this feature is great for people who use Instagram casually, it can be a problem for those of us who use it for professional reasons.

When people scroll through all the videos that use a certain audio file, only a few are likely to resonate with them. As you can see below, you will probably get a lot of views, and maybe even a good amount of likes! However, that’s where the engagement ends.

As you can see here, this Reel did very well in terms of views, and even gathered over 1,000 likes! However, a very low percentage of these views and likes converted into actual engagement, like comments and shares. Now, let’s look a bit deeper into what kind of audience Reels tend to attract.

Noticing a theme here?

Many of the accounts that like Reels are either fake or outside of your target audience. While these accounts may like your videos, and will sometimes even give it a like, that’s all you’re likely to get. You won’t get many comments or followers, and if you do, they’re not likely to be helpful to your overall mission of increased engagement.

Any content you put on your business social media should have the ultimate goal of increasing your active followers, generating more comments, and eventually, gaining new clients or sales. Reels take a lot of time to make, and it can be very frustrating to not see results!

How Should I Be Using Reels?

Now that we’ve discussed why Reels won’t bring you the type of growth you’re looking for, you might be wondering if there is a way to effectively use Reels! Let’s talk about it.

At the end of the day, Reels should be used mainly for entertainment and connecting with your current followers, rather than as a way to grow your page. Your marketing plan should focus on scheduled and timely emails, social media posts, phone calls, and other proven ways to increase engagement. Once you’ve done all of that to the best of your ability, you can focus on creating Reels as a sort of “bonus content.”

Here are a few tips for creating Reels on your business account.

Use the Right Hashtags

Just like normal Instagram posts, using the right hashtags on your Reels is key to getting them in front of the right audience. Use the same kind of hashtags you would use on your regular posts, always keeping them consistent with your brand.

Encourage Interested People to Follow

While getting people to follow your account should not be your ultimate goal with Reels, you can encourage the right kind of people to do so. Show the products or services you have available, and tell those watching that they can follow you for more information and similar content. You may not get a lot of followers this way, but any you do get could be a bonus.

Don’t Take It Too Seriously!

Remember - Reels will probably not be an effective means of growing your audience, so you don’t need to put the same time and effort into them as you do with your usual content! Any Reels you make should be fun, simple, and geared towards the followers you already have. Think of Social Media as a tool to help build relationships in a digital space.

Show your products in action, let your followers into your personal life, and let them meet the person behind the brand.

Reels Are for Fun!

Don’t get it wrong - you can still create Reels if you enjoy doing so! Just make sure you have the right expectations in mind. Always make them fun and lighthearted, and don’t take yourself too seriously! You already have a full-circle marketing plan, so any Reels you make should just be to connect with your current clientele and if you "catch" a new client in the meantime...BONUS!

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