Recently, I wrote “This moment belongs to TikTok.” Now there’s another social media service that wants to cut in on their moment. 

In 2021, expect to see Instagram push their new TikTok-like feature called Instagram Reels.

Time in digital marketing is like dog years. Everything is much faster than real life. 

Especially when it comes to startup success like SnapChat or TikTok, their moment in the limelight isn’t guaranteed.  Social media giants like Facebook are circling in to steal their innovations or simply acquire them.

This coming year, TikTok is going to face serious competition as Facebook-owned Instagram pushes it’s new Reels feature.

Of course, that’s bad news for TikTok. But it could be great news for you!

What Is Instagram Reels?

Officially announced in an August 2020 blog post, Instagram Reels introduces a new way for anyone, including education marketers, to “record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools.”

Instagram Reels screenshot with girl heading to the beach at sunset.

As the first major change to the app’s home screen in 10 years, this is a really big deal, and could prove to be an incredibly effective way to cultivate your Gen Z audience. 

The Instagram Reels icon is located at the bottom of the app screen where the plus sign used to be. 

The plus sign, used when you want to create a new post, has been moved to the top right corner of your screen next to the heart shaped notification button.

Instagram Reel allows youth to show off their skills, like this street dancing duo.

Like TikTok or Facebook TV, once you get into the Instagram Reels screen, you can scroll through an endless feed of 15-second videos with accompanying background music. 

It’s so close to TikTok, it’s hard not to think that Instagram launched Reels to be direct competition for TikTok.

How do you use Instagram Reels for education marketing?

Right now, I’d say use the same strategy as you would for TikTok. 

Don’t have a TikTok strategy yet? Read my fun, starter guide for TikTok here!

Will Instagram Reel kill TikTok? Screenshot of my blog post about TikTok.

Will Instagram Reel kill TikTok? Click image to read how to use TikTok.

The advantage with Reels is that you’ve probably already built a sizeable following on Instagram. For now, that means your Reels will probably get more traction than your TikTok account (assuming you’re just starting out on TikTok and have been using Instagram for a while).

If you haven’t already started marketing on TikTok, you may want to kickstart your short videos with Instagram Reels.

If you already have a following on Instagram, think about starting with Instagram Reels as you launch into the world of short video marketing.

This way you can capitalize on the social media following you’ve already worked hard to build.

And if you’ve invested any budget dollars into Instagram Ads this might be a better way to further growth on your marketing investment. 

It’s hard to tell so early, but TikTok has got an uphill battle to fight in the U.S. with competition like Instagram Reels… and not only because of the duplicate features.

TikTok Challenges

The first round of challenges for TikTok is its legal battle with the Trump administration. 

In an executive order, the administration alleged that TikTok, which is owned by Chinese-based company ByteDance Ltd., could be sending sensitive American intelligence to the Chinese communist government.

TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories.  This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.

In an effort to save their ongoing talks with “potential buyers including Microsoft and Oracle for TikTok’s North American, Australian and New Zealand operations,” TikTok is now suing the U.S. government, claiming that they weren’t given a fair trial to prove the allegations. 

Will all of this prevent Gen Z prospective students from using TikTok?

Probably not. 

Which is why TikTok is still a good social media marketing strategy. For now.

But here’s the caveat: If you haven’t started out on TikTok, and you have a good-sized following on Instagram, consider starting your short video strategy with Instagram Reels.

Then look at moving on to TikTok. 

Time will tell if TikTok’s moment in the spotlight continues. All these legal issues could simply be a distraction on their way to the social media pantheon.

But then again, it might not. So…

If Instagram Reels looks like the best option for your short video marketing strategy in 2021, go for it. 

The same approach to TikTok looks like it will fit nicely on Instagram Reels, and the audience is much the same.

For more guidance and helpful news in the world of digital marketing, contact us today!


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