Ah, social media. Good old’ social media. It’s quite revolutionary, isn’t it? This is one of the many rhetorical question-thoughts that has started to pop into my head regularly nowadays.
As a Gen-Z’er and active social media user myself, I have always been acutely aware that platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more recently, TikTok, really do have the power to inform and influence our everyday thoughts, feelings, and actions.
A few months ago, I started a scholarship resource platform designed to help connect students with scholarship opportunities and other helpful resources to guide them from high school to college and beyond. Once it was launched, I wasted no time creating various social media accounts to promote my website to my student audience (think: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram).
These past few months have been a crazy and wild ride as I have gone through the hoops, trials, and tribulations of attempting to successfully navigate each social media platform, not as a user but as a business.
And I’ve definitely learned a ton along the way. So, in this article, I’m going to dive into how I leveraged two specific platforms to reach and resonate with my target audience, plus how I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in the process.
Where to start? I suppose the easiest place to start is with the more familiar of the two apps: Instagram.
This app has been around for approximately a decade, and with over 25 million business accounts as of 2019, it’s no secret that businesses have unlocked the treasure chest. So, clearly, most businesses (which probably includes yours!) have a presence on Instagram. Good for them and you!
However, one thing which I’m sure you’ve come to realize (just as I have) is that simply being present on Instagram doesn’t do much in the way of helping your business. I think anyone would agree with me that it takes a solid amount of thought, planning, attention, and, most importantly, adaptability to figure out how to utilize Instagram for business successfully.
Why is adaptability so important? It’s because apps like Instagram are constantly innovating and adding new features. So, when a new feature comes out, it behooves us, as business owners, to ask and to answer these two questions:
- What does this feature do?
- How can I use it to better reach, engage, and resonate with my audience?
Introducing Instagram Reels
Now seems like an appropriate time to introduce Instagram Reels. If you already have a presence on Instagram (whether as a user or a business owner), it is likely that you’ve come across a Reel or two in your time. In case you haven’t, though, here is the lowdown:
- Reels is a recently introduced feature to Instagram (August 2020).
- This feature allows users to create short (15 second-long), fun, and entertaining videos to share on the app. These videos can be recorded in one take, as a series of clips that get strung together, or created using uploads from your camera roll videos.
- It comes with tons of editing tools and effects, leaving users with the ultimate challenge of tackling creativity.
How You Can Use Reels to Help Your Business
The First Great Thing About Reels Is:
That when you post one, as long as your account is public, you have the opportunity to share your creation on Instagram’s Explore page, which allows your business to be seen by a wider audience than just your own current followers. This is a huge plus! If you use certain hashtags, songs, or effects in your Reel, this gives you the additional opportunity to be featured on more specific pages dedicated to those features.
Reels capitalizes on the fact that our attention spans are diminishing by the minute. We are no longer able to sit and stare at the same post or video for longer than just a few seconds before our brains start getting bored! This is why using Reels is the perfect way to grab your viewer’s attention within those first few seconds and get them interested in wanting to learn more about what you’re selling.
if you sell a product, Reels is a cool way to model it, display how it works, and show off its features. If you sell a service, you can use Reels to explain what your service does, newly added features, and why those who are watching should want to use it.
For example, my focus and plans for my website Access Scholarships are on creating Reels that focus on informing students about topics I discuss on my blog. I create each video as a listicle (which users love since it’s easy to watch and follow along) and use different color text and highlight features to point out important information such as scholarship deadlines, names, and eligibility.
Next up, we have TikTok, AKA the pioneer app of short video format. Although TikTok was initially released in 2016, it was only around last year that it began to skyrocket in popularity, first among “regular users” and then among businesses.
TikTok is an early adopter compared to Instagram Reels when it comes to taking advantage of our short attention spans. Like Reels’ function, TikTok entices users into creating and watching unique short videos complete with funky features, filters, and music. The app has been the reason that hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of viral content have begun floating around the web, mostly because the content checks off one or more of the following: funny, creative, informative.
The great thing about using TikTok to reach your target audience is that anything and everything you post has the opportunity to get in front of the eyes of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people who don’t already follow you (hello: new customers!!). Business owners can create TikTok videos by utilizing the same strategy that they approach towards Instagram Reels. The more creative, funny, innovative, or informative, the better.
At the End of the Day
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember (in my opinion!) about using TikTok and Reels for business is that whatever your business is promoting, providing, or selling does not matter nearly as much as how creative you can get with the ways you talk about (or visualize it) in your videos.
At this stage, I hope I have convinced you of the value that using these apps (and specific features) can add to your business! But, in case you’re skeptical or not sure how to get started, here’s a tip: If your business or website has a blog, then congrats!
Rather than recreating the wheel, an easy way to get started with these apps is to turn your blog posts into short videos. This is one of the easiest ways to transform your static content into something visually appealing and potentially much more eye-catching. In fact, I’m still in the process of working on this for my own blog – my next blog posts-turned TikToks are new and easy scholarships, full-ride scholarships, and scholarships for seniors in high school.
In addition to this easy tactic, one of the best ways to get inspiration for your TikToks or Reels is to start consuming content. Get a feel for the apps, their features, potential uses, and opportunities, and come up with a list of ideas for ways to film or content you can discuss that will entice your audience.
One Final Tip
Now that I have fully fleshed out how to use Instagram Reels and TikTok for your business, there’s only one more thing left to discuss, and that’s going out of your comfort zone. I want to mention this because, if you’re like me in that you wear multiple hats while running your website or business, it could be your job to get your company up and running on these apps. Scary, right?
A little bit, yes. I wouldn’t say that I’m naturally introverted or extroverted, but I can say that after realizing the big benefits of representing my website through Reels and on TikTok, I decided that I was going to have to go out of my comfort zone and get in front of the camera for my videos. It was certainly scary and weird at first, but I’m definitely getting more used to it, which means you can too! So, my final piece of advice for those who may be camera shy is to just have fun with it and don’t take yourself too seriously.
With that, I will leave you to get downloading, watching, creating, and hopefully going viral!
DepositPhotos – TikTok