New Updates Coming to Instagram Reels & What That Means for Brands

July 15, 2021
By   Alexandra Few
Category   Social Media
Person holding an iPhone with a black screen and the Instagram logo in the centre.

Reels has become a popular feature on Instagram, with numerous updates coming its way. As video sharing platforms are gaining popularity by the day, it is important to stay on top of the newest features in order to create optimized content for your brand.

The competition is real in the world of social media platforms, which means you will likely see more updates now, and in the future, as each platform battles it out to see which new feature will come out on top. Instagram is no exception to this, as they are once again making updates to their Reels feature that borrows some of TikTok’s best qualities.

Instagram Reels debuted in August 2020, and allows you to create and edit 15 to 30-second multi-clip videos (with sound/music and filter options) that you can post on the platform.

If your brand hasn’t already implemented Reels in your marketing strategy, you might wonder how it differs from TikTok, and if posting on Reels is really worth the effort. Video in general has received a flood of popularity thanks to these sharing platforms, and 70% of marketers are looking to boost their investment in video on Instagram alone.

Looking past the more obvious differences between the TikTok and Instagram, Reels can act as an expansion of your existing presence and brand reputation that you have on Instagram. They can also help pave a more targeted approach to your desired audience that you have pre-established on the app, whereas TikTok may feel like casting too wide of a net at times. Especially if you’re targeting Millennials and Gen Z, breaking up the monotony of their feeds with a short video can greatly appeal to those generations who are likely already consuming (and enjoying) a lot of video content as it is.

Since its launch, Instagram has continuously implemented updates to this feature as a way to not only improve user experience but help bring more attention to the format and incentivize creators and brands to create more video content. Below are the updates that Instagram has recently implemented for Reels, as well as some of the updates that are rumoured to be on the way.

Insights for Reels and Lives

Whenever social platforms release more key metrics, whether it be about post-performance or audience engagement, the long-term benefits can be enormous for a brand’s social strategy. Instagram Business accounts currently have an insight tab that provides an overview of your account performing, including information about your audience growth, and the performance of your posts Stories, but there has been very little insight on your Reels and Lives content.

Finally, Reels and Live are getting their own set of insights. According to Instagram, feedback from creators and businesses played a role in their decision. When posting video content to Reels, the following metrics will appear: Plays, Accounts Reached, Comments, Likes, Saves, and Shares. For Live, you can now access: Accounts Reached, Peak Concurrent Viewers, Comments, and Shares.

These metrics can be found within Account Insights, allowing you to view a broader look at your account performance.

Two phones that display Instagram Reels metrics page, with a pink and orange ombre background.

Reels Ads Are Being Tested

The ads you find in-between Instagram Stories are coming to Reels. Mirroring the format of Reels, the ads will take up the entire screen, can last up to 30 seconds, and will play on a continuous loop, just like a typical Reels video, until the user skips to the next video. Just like an organic Reel, the user can like, comment, save, or share the ad, which can possibly lead to greater brand engagement.

Testing for Reels ads began in Australia, Brazil, Germany, and India in April 2021, and then expanded to Canada, France, the UK, and the US. While Instagram continues to determine a good balance of ads and video content, definitely expect to see more ads pop up between Reels, and experiment with this new ad format before it becomes oversaturated.

Captions Are Coming to Reels

Making accessible content is a priority for most brands, and after Instagram recently announced that they added a captions sticker in Stories, it was only a matter of time before they brought the captioning software to other features on the platform. It was recently announced that Reels will soon receive the captions sticker, which will allow users who rely on subtitles the opportunity to access content easier. It also opens the possibility of users consuming content with no sound.

There are many reasons why a user might rely on subtitles but having content that can reach various audiences is not only beneficial to the user, but to the brand the user is engaging with.

Recent research released by Facebook reports that captions increase view time of video advertisements by 12%. Communicating your content with and without sound is essential to building connections with your audience.

Are Reels Worth It?

As the video-sharing platform increases in popularity, more updates will inevitably happen. However, posting content where your audience spends their time is key, and if your brand already has high engagement on Instagram, or there is a need for a boost, Reels might be a great way to reach more potential customers.


instagram Instagram Reels Updates


Alexandra Few

Alexandra is a Content Producer at Reshift Media. Her work in our social team includes creating and designing content for social media, as well as researching and developing blog posts, landing pages, and other forms of web content for several brands. She has completed certifications in digital marketing, professional writing, and digital strategy and communications management, and she has published work on topics that range from franchising and social media to music and wellness.

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