In early August, Instagram launched a new feature called Instagram Reels. It has been described as the company’s response to TikTok, a popular app that allows users to make 15 to 60 second videos using creative editing and audio tools. In this post, we’ll give you a quick crash course that covers:
- What exactly Instagram Reels is
- How to use the new feature
- Why your nonprofit should consider using it
- Creative examples of nonprofits already using it to engage their supporters
Instagram Reels is a tool your nonprofit can use to create quick, fun, and viral moments that captivate and grow your audience on Instagram. By adopting this new feature early in the game, your nonprofit can capitalize on a burgeoning social media trend and spread your mission, work, and impact to new audiences.
What Is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels allows users to create short-form videos, capped at 15 seconds in length. They can choose to set these videos to music, add filters to them, include different effects or text in the frame, and link them to additional comments below the video.
While Instagram users may already be sharing videos through Instagram Stories, that feature is geared toward daily updates and quick livestreams. Instagram Reels, on the other hand, elevates user creativity and aims to entertain. Instagram’s Explore page now includes a section for Instagram Reels at the top of the screen so users can easily find and follow content from the new feature that interests them.
Potential Benefits of the Newest Instagram Feature
We’re seeing quick storytelling videos gain popularity across almost all social media platforms, based on findings from the Nonprofit Video Index™ created by Tectonic Video. Given their research about the fact that the most engaging social media videos are under one minute coupled with Instagram’s 1 billion users, we’re seeing more and more examples of nonprofits using Reels to tell their stories. Further, of the top 100 most engaging nonprofit videos cited in the report, 54% of those on Facebook and 70% of those on Twitter are under one minute in length.
Instagram Reels taps into this trend by capping video length at 15 seconds, enough time to both capture attention and entertain viewers. To that end, your nonprofit can:
- Develop short educational videos on topics directly related to your cause
- Create marketing reels that build hype around your fundraising campaigns
- Document videos that humanize your brand by highlighting your staff and their personalities
- Share videos that feature your beneficiaries
Additionally, if your nonprofit is already active on Instagram, this new feature provides an opportunity to tap into the popularity of the TikTok video model without needing to start a new social media account from scratch. Similarly, Instagram Reels allows nonprofits to connect with a potentially younger audience.
3 Nonprofits Leveraging Instagram Reels to Engage Supporters
While the Instagram Reels feature is still relatively new to the scene, there are already examples of nonprofits finding creative ways to use it for short-form videos that connect with their audiences. Below, we highlight three nonprofit examples and share how exactly their Instagram Reels engage viewers.
1. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
As a nonprofit focused on the ethical treatment of animals, PETA encourages a vegan lifestyle. In this reel, the nonprofit highlights its mission through a quick, fun recipe for vegan bacon.
The content engages users by providing something the audience can use and try for themselves. It may also inspire supporters to share their own favorite vegan recipes. All the while, it’s promoting a central pillar of PETA’s mission and work in a fun and entertaining way.
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Think about an activity that your supporters might do in their day-to-day, and find a way to connect elements of your mission to create a fun spin or tutorial around that activity. Even a lighthearted video can show supporters how your mission or the cause might impact their daily lives.
This Instagram Reel from charity:water uses messaging that is appropriate for marketing during the COVID-19 global pandemic. It shows emotional, timely video imagery of handwashing to highlight how its mission directly relates to challenges communities are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Less than 30% of Mali’s rural population has access to sanitation services. As a result, families have little opportunity to protect themselves from diarrhea, disease, and COVID-19. Mali has a high rate of infectious disease and one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates (@WorldBank). But thanks to our incredible local partners and your support of the September Campaign, we have a chance to transform the future for 20,000 people in rural Mali. Learn how you can help at https://cwtr.org/2CqTeR6 (link in bio).
Consider how your nonprofit’s mission relates to the coronavirus pandemic or other current events, and create an Instagram Reel that highlights that connection. This will show supporters that you are in tune with the moment.
3. Pencils of Promise
Pencils of Promise used Instagram Reels to create a fun video meant to excite supporters for its upcoming virtual gala. It takes a lighthearted approach to highlighting the ways their remote event will be even better than a traditional in-person gala. It uses the feature’s editing tools to add colorful text to the video and set it to upbeat music.
The example below also shows that you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating Instagram Reels content. You can easily repurpose videos from Tik Tok, if you have an active presence there, to take advantage of this new channel for your nonprofit marketing.
Use Instagram Reels to promote your campaign or upcoming virtual event. The feature provides a way to creatively share the activity with new supporters.
Leverage Instagram Reels to Connect With Nonprofit Supporters
Instagram Reels is a creative, engaging feature that incorporates all of the features that have made TikTok such a popular platform. It offers nonprofits a new way to connect with your supporters to educate, hype, connect, and, ultimately, increase donations to your cause.