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Reels Versus Stories: What’s Right for MY Channel

Instagram has been incredible for drawing in social media users who not only love to share their beautiful pics of their lives with millions of viewers, but who also love to engage in the lives of others one channel at a time. At first this wonderful platform only hosted colorful pictures, but the IG of today now hosts a slew of videos for storytelling. First came IGTV, then came the short stories, and finally as TikTok emerged, Instagram added in the Reels feature. So what do all of those features do, what do those terms mean, and which one is gonna be best for YOUR channel?! Let’s get started….

What’s an Instagram story? At first it was Instagram’s answer to the popular app we all know as Snapchat. Now, it’s known more popularly as a unique feature found on Instagram that can be found at the very top of your feed and the feed of your followers. It can feature a photo, video, or uniquely created selfie content for 15 second snippets of time. You can add music, filters, and even animated stickers to liven up your story in order to gain views from your followers. To attract a new audience, you can add a relevant hashtag, location, and even charity links to involve new people with what you have to offer.

How can a story be useful to you as an Instagram user? If your goals are to grow your channel, stories can absolutely help with increasing your followers and following from fellow IG users. One way to do this is through the use of hashtags. Let’s say you have a dog, and you want other dog lovers to follow you, you’d use the hashtag “doglover” or something similar to it. If someone is following that very hashtag, depending on popularity and relevance, they are likely to see your story and maybe even follow you, based on your content. Even Brands as large as Doritos have used IG stories to fuel their social media growth.

If engagement is your ultimate goal, you can add a relevant poll. This allows users to click on a choice given to them, and engage with your story. One example would be: “What weather is your favorite? Hot or Cold?” At the end of the poll, you have the option then to share it among your viewers after they have participated. Another useful feature is the ability to tag other users. This can be attention grabbing and even increase your chance of getting more engagement. Tagging others often encourages those users to share your story on their story feed as well, thus increasing your interaction, and Instagram engagement. With an increase in engagement, you can promote products to sell and even services to highlight for your followers.

This all sounds great right?! So what are the drawbacks to using stories on Instagram? One of the biggest drawbacks is you only get 15 seconds to capture the story viewer. Although this can be broken up into multiple 15 second viewing segments, your first segment will usually determine if they click to see your next clip or exit immediately to move on to content that provides more interest to them. Another drawback is in 24 hours, your content disappears. Poof! Gone! Lucky for you, Instagram allows you to pin your favorite stories to your profile, allowing people to view your stories at any given time. The drawback is that you are only allowed a certain number of stories to go with each pin, so some of your favorites will have to go or be lost in your archive until you replace it with something more current.

Another drawback is that only one hashtag can be used, per IG story clip. If you have multiple clips, only one can be attached per clip and as you already know, you usually have ONE Instagram story segment to capture their attention before the user is on to something bigger or better suited for their viewing.

So let’s look at the pros and cons of Instagram Stories:

  • PRO: Gain Followers with the use of Tagging and Hashtagging

  • PRO: Gain Attention & Followers through short clips

  • PRO: Connect Products and E-Commerce to increase sales

  • PRO: Can be shared on Facebook stories Automatically

  • CON: Clips are very short (15 seconds)

  • CON: Segments only last less than 24 hours

  • CON: Limited placement and not found in the main feed

  • CON: Limited editing features

Now we move on the moment you’ve been waiting for, Instagram Reels. Instagram Reels are a short clip video feature, aimed directly at content creators. These videos were Instagrams answer to the massive increase in worldwide Tik Tok video followers. Those who had a massive following on Youtube and Instagram went straight to TikTok for their advanced features in video creation, so Instagram drew them back with their Reels feature in retort.

At first the Reels were similar to the stories while only having a 15 second creative window and now Instagram has extended this time to a full minute in length. Hooray! Not only does it have extended time, but the Reels feature also provides creative options, customized audio editing, and gives Instagram users a whole new way to present imaginative videos to their followers. If any of us have learned anything in our lives, we have learned that users LOVE options and variety.

What are some other unique features of Reels? One unique feature that’s fairly new, is the Remix feature. What this basically does is allow your Reel to be added to another Reel. Your video will be shown simultaneously as the other plays. What is this feature for exactly? This feature can be used to show your reaction to another video, allowing musical duets, or even just creating entertaining scenarios between the two. If your video becomes popular, people may use this Remix feature on your video as well.

Who can benefit from Reels? Businesses have found ways to integrate this feature into their daily, weekly and monthly social media content strategy. They can provide entertainment, information, service highlights, product highlights or relevant daily tips to give value to followers or potential followers. As we all know, followers can turn into customers and customers turn into profit for your business. For influencers, Reels can be used to highlight their sponsors, provide new content and collaborate with other influencers as well.

What are the pros and cons of Reels?

  • PRO: Extended time for video play

  • PRO: Reaching a potential wider audience

  • PRO: Extra Audio and Editing Features

  • CON: Unable to use a link to take you to another website (No Swipe Up Feature)

  • CON: The algorithm differs from Stories, TikTok, and FB

  • CON: Demographics between platforms can be vastly different

In conclusion, as technology advances and audiences on social media grow, we are given so many options to not only create unique video content, but to provide our very own videos for our audiences. With content creation being at an all time high, digital platforms have given us a unique set of tools to be able to do this such as Stories and Reels. Both Instagram features have their benefits between them (video length, editing features, audio features) and both have their downfalls as well (differing audiences and algorithm issues). My professional suggestion would be to try them both and double your chances at channel growth, gain a new audience to share videos with, and even feature any products or services you can provide that online world with.



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