• Stephanie Reed

Reels-centric Instagram: has 2022 been the most challenging year yet for social media managers?

Updated: Jul 19

It often strikes me how adaptability is one of the most important characteristics of a social media manager.


Social channels are always evolving and it’s vital that we’re tuned into these updates and amend our social media content and strategies when necessary, otherwise you’ll get left behind.


I’ve been managing social media channels for brands for over ten years now, so I’m fairly used to adapting. However, this year has probably been the most challenging… and slightly infuriating so far.


And that's because of Instagram's decision to move away from what it does best and what makes it unique: being a photo sharing app.

Social media managers and content creators invested time and energy building beautiful, inspiring, often picture-perfect image grids - carefully thought out, possibly with colour schemes - to then be told by Instagram to focus pretty much ONLY on reels going forward, in response to the rising popularity of TikTok.


Now, if you're not familiar with reels, these are short-form, vertical videos that can be up to 90 seconds long. Instagram users can record and edit together video and photo clips set to trending audio.


Instagram so desperately wants to be TikTok and feels its threat, that it has become obsessed with reels.


Instagram reels now typically perform much better than image grid posts, as you can share them with people who are not your followers on the reels explore page. I’m amazed at how well some of the reels that I create for clients perform (see some examples further down).


There’s an Instagram creators page encouraging everyone to share reels, and top tips and tricks, including the latest trends.


And currently when you log in to your feed, every other post is a reel by somebody you probably don’t follow or even know. I personally scroll past these reels because I want to see content from the people that I follow only, and I often wonder if other users are doing the same?


It appears that every time a new social media competitor comes along and is a big hit, such as SnapChat or TikTok, Instagram responds by merely trying to rip it off. It worked so well with Instagram Stories replicating Snapchat, so why not do the same with TikTok?!


However, Instagram isn't TikTok just yet, which has an algorithm that shows you reels content based on your interests. Side note: in my opinion TikTok has the most addictive algorithm - it’s actually quite scary how it draws you in...


Time will tell if Instagram succeeds in its quest to be video-centric, but this change has meant I’ve had to work with all of my clients to shift our focus and generate more reels. In all honestly, it has doubled my workload for the past few months and I’m re-thinking my pricing and proposals going forward. That said, I have embraced this change and have been having fun creating reels for my clients.


It looks like reels will stick around for now, so here are some examples that I have created for clients that have performed well if you’d like some inspiration:

Showcasing the new waterpark at MarBella Corfu (I created this during a recent visit).

Watch it here (received 7,595 plays so far)


Showcasing the tranquility that awaits at MarBella Corfu (I created this during a recent visit).

Watch it here (received 5,308 plays so far)


Reflecting on returning to the office on behalf of Releasd (yes, it's me!).

Watch it here (received 5,970 plays so far).


Showcasing a glorious treatment at one of Healing Hotel of the World's member hotels.

Watch it here (received 1,963 plays so far)


Sharing thinking trap advice for The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

Watch it here (received 5,411 plays so far)


Sharing an article about the power of floating for Just Breathe Mag.

Watch it here (received 744 plays so far).

Here are some quick tips for creating reels or do get in touch if you'd like my help to step up your reels game:

  • If you’re new to reels, familiarise yourself when them by viewing the reels explore tab on the Instagram app and scrolling through - look at what your competitors and like-minded brands are doing and what’s performing well.

  • Use trending audio on reels (look out for an arrow next to the track) so more people see your content.

  • Add text to the reel, as I worry that the text in the caption can get lost now. I simply replicate the text from the caption if I have limited time.


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