Why YouTube Is Turning to Shorts for Social Commerce

Why YouTube Is Turning to Shorts for Social Commerce

YouTube

Short-form video is an important battleground for brands and consumers right now. TikTok really changed the game for video content creation by inspiring millions of people to create TikTok videos that typically last anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds. Since then, a host of imitators have appeared, including Meta’s Reels on Facebook and Instagram; and YouTube Shorts.

Many businesses have quickly cracked the code for creating short-form video, and everyday users continue to up the ante, too, which has accelerated the rise of the creator economy, or everyday creators who monetize their content with the help of the host app.

Short-form video is also rapidly evolving as a format for creating ads, free content, and shoppable experiences. The latest example: YouTube Shorts is expanding shopping features.

What Is YouTube Shorts?

Shorts is a feature available to YouTube users. With Shorts, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds, similar to how TikTok and Instagram Reels are used. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once a person opens one Short, they get access to tons more of them (again, think TikTok or Reels playing one after another.) According to Google, YouTube Shorts now averages over 30 billion daily views (four times as many as a year ago).

It did not take long for businesses to get involved with Shorts. As we have blogged, brands everywhere are connecting with the vast YouTube audience with organic content and advertising.

For instance, Kitchen and home marketplace Food52 is posting Shorts that offer sneak peeks at its longer-form content on the traditional version of YouTube, as well as repurposing some recipe videos. Drupely’s olive-oil brand Graza says it is creating user engagement by posting how-to cooking and recipe content. According to Graza, videos focused solely on Graza products do better on TikTok than on Shorts.

Social Commerce on Shorts

If YouTube has its way, more brands will be using Shorts to sell things to people. New shopping features are being tested by YouTube in order to accelerate social commerce on YouTube. The new shopping features allow users to purchase products as they scroll through Shorts.

In the United States, eligible creators can tag products from their own stores. Viewers in the United States, India, Brazil, Canada and Australia can see the tags and shop through the Shorts. (The plan is to expand tagging for more creators and countries.)

YouTube is also experimenting with an affiliate program in the United States. This makes it possible for creators to earn commissions through purchases of recommended products in their Shorts and regular videos. YouTube says that this test is in early days. The program will be expanded in 2023.

This is just the latest in many efforts by YouTube to inject social shopping into the user experience. For instance, YouTube launched shoppable ads and the ability to shop directly from livestreams hosted by creators. YouTube has good reason to make it easier to buy and sell products on Shorts. Shorts has topped 1.5 billion monthly users. According to gen.video, YouTube ranks third overall in terms of where consumers do their product research before buying, only behind Amazon and Google directly.

YouTube Shorts is in a race with Instagram and TikTok to win attention from shoppers. Both apps have a head start on Shorts, and TikTok is testing TikTok Shop in the United States. TikTok Shop allows users to buy products directly through the app. All of them are trying to get a slice of the social shopping pie: social commerce is expected to be a $2 trillion market by 2025.

Brands are already figuring out how to sell products via Shorts. Glossier sold products through Shorts in June by creating a challenge for users to try. Glossier gave about a hundred influencers a new pencil eyeliner and encouraged them to create Shorts videos with the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier in the caption. People who tapped the hashtag were brought to the Glossier website. There, they could buy the eyeliner and were asked to recreate a look as part of the challenge. Any Shorts video that included the hashtag was shoppable.

2023 will likely be a year for more shopping features to proliferate on video platforms, with Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram duking it out for consumers’ attention amid a recessionary economy. Who will win? We’ll report progress here.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Why Google Is Bullish about Winning Its Fight with TikTok

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

Why Google Brought Advertising to YouTube Shorts

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

Are Meta’s Problems as Bad As They Seem for Advertisers?

Are Meta’s Problems as Bad As They Seem for Advertisers?

Facebook Instagram Meta

Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse for Meta, along comes another disastrous earnings announcement. On October 26, Meta, the parent of Facebook and Instagram, announced third-quarter earnings characterized by declining revenue and profits.

Quarterly revenue was $27.7 billion, down more than 4 percent from a year ago, after Meta posted a 1 percent decrease last quarter. Advertising revenue came in at $27.2 billion, down nearly 4 percent year-over-year (although that figure beat analysts’ estimates of $26.9 billion). Since advertising represents 98.2 percent of the company’s total revenue, the revenue drop is especially worrisome for Meta.

So, what’s causing the meltdown?

Weakening Demand

The biggest factor: diminishing demand for ad products caused by market uncertainty. In a call with investors, CFO Dave Wehner cited “weak advertising demand, which we believe continues to be impacted by the uncertain and volatile macroeconomic landscape.” CEO Mark Zuckerberg added that “. . . it’s not clear that the economy has stabilized yet so we’re planning our budget somewhat more conservatively.” As a result, Meta predicted that ad revenues will be $30 billion to $32.5 billion for the fourth quarter, below analysts’ expectations of $32.2 billion. (That level would represent another decline from a year ago, when total revenue was $33.67 billion.)

The TikTok Factor

The company, like Google, also faces rising competition from TikTok, whose popular short-form videos have generated a sharp increase in advertising revenue. According to Statista, TikTok generated $4 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, a figure that is expected to double by 2024 and triple by 2026. Digiday reported recently that ad agencies are shifting content creation from Instagram and YouTube to TikTok. In April, Insider Intelligence predicted that TikTok’s ad revenue will grow 184 percent to nearly $6 billion in 2023 (that amount tops Twitter and Snap combined).

To fight TikTok, Meta has given priority to the development and growth of Reels, its short-form video format on Facebook and Instagram. Meta is now seeing 140 billion Reels plays across Facebook and Instagram each day, which is a 50 percent increase from six months ago, according to Zuckerberg.

But Reels doesn’t monetize as effectively as the company’s other types of content. So, as Meta pivots toward showing more short-form video, Meta is taking a quarterly revenue headwind of more than $500 million, Zuckerberg told investors. Meta expects to get to a more neutral place with this shift within the next 12 to 18 months.

“As Reels grows, we’re displacing revenue from higher-monetized surfaces,” Zuckerberg told investors. “That’s clearly the right thing to do.”

The Apple Factor

Meta continues to grapple with the fall-out of Apple’s privacy controls, known as App Tracking Transparency (ATT). Meta said its average ad price decreased 18 percent on the year, as it adjusts to Apple’s changes that make it harder for Meta to track users and serve them personalized advertising. In the same quarter last year, the average price per ad climbed 22 percent.

But Meta also said that the blow to ad revenue caused by ATT is diminishing. Per CFO Dave Wehner, “Consistent with our expectations, the headwind to year-over-year growth from Apple’s ATT changes diminished in Q3 as we lapped the first full quarter post the launch of iOS14.5.”

But Apple isn’t done punishing Meta. Apple recently changed its App Store terms to take a portion of social-media advertising revenue. The policy change requires users and advertisers to make an in-app purchase when they pay to boost posts in apps like TikTok and Meta’s Instagram. Apple takes a commission of as much as 30 percent on in-app purchases, meaning a company like Meta would lose a portion of its ad revenue to the iPhone maker.

The company also faced stiff criticism from investors over its continued push into the metaverse, which has cost the company billions of dollars. Although the company’s metaverse investments technically do not affect its ad revenue – they’re more of a drain on profits than anything else – they have raised concerns that Meta is taking its eye off its core social media growth engine in the web 2.0 world.

The Good News

But on the bright side, Meta reported that:

  • Daily Active Users (DAUs) for the quarter were: 1.98 billion versus 1.98 billion expected, according to StreetAccount. That was up from 1.97 billion three months ago. 
  • Monthly Active Users (MAUs): 2.96 billion versus 2.94 billion expected, according to StreetAccount

Meta said Instagram now claims more than 2 billion monthly active users, while WhatsApp’s user base has surpassed 2 billion daily active users, with North America being the messaging app’s fastest-growing region.

What This Means for Advertisers

So, what does all this mean for advertisers? Well, now might be an opportune time to advertise on Meta, with its user base being strong and average ad prices decreasing. The company is rolling out new ad products to improve the monetization of Reels, and a new “Performance 5” framework, which is a set of five data-proven tactics that can help to improve advertising performance on Meta platforms amid tighter privacy controls. For instance, broad targeting consists of an automated targeting approach that reportedly produces better results for Facebook and Instagram ads than more refined, more niche audience approaches.

Meta, like its competitors, faces some difficult times amid economic uncertainty. But businesses that are taking the long view with their advertising efforts may turn out to be the winners so long as they don’t push the brakes on their online advertising efforts.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with social media advertising, contact True Interactive. We have extensive experience helping businesses succeed on social media.

How Meta Is Defending Its Advertising Turf

How Meta Is Defending Its Advertising Turf

Meta

Meta, the second-largest online advertising platform in the world, faces numerous challenges ranging from stricter privacy controls to the emergence of new competitors such as Amazon Ads and TikTok. Meta, like the market leader Google, is defending its position the best way it knows how: rolling out new ad products.

On October 3, Meta announced new ways for advertisers to reach the company’s user base, which encompass brands such as Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger. They include:

  • Post-loop ads on Facebook Reels. The skippable video ads, ranging from four to 10 seconds in length, play at the conclusion of a Reel, followed by the original Reel resuming and looping again. (Instagram Reels already have ads.)
  • Image carousel ads for Facebook Reels. These are horizontally scrollable and can include anywhere from two to 10 image ads. They appear at the bottom of Reels content.
  • Ads in creators’ profile feeds. These are aimed at giving creators another monetization option and will allow them to earn extra income from ads within the content they already have in their profile. This ad format is being tested with a small number of creators in the United States. A Meta spokesperson told Adweek that company will make it clear that creators are not affiliated with the ads that appear in their profile feeds.

Meta also announced new spaces available for advertisers on both the Explore page of Instagram, within Facebook Reels and on creators pages.

But wait – there’s more! Instagram also launched a series of ad formats. For instance, Instagram  is developing an open beta of augmented reality ads in feed and Stories. This makes it possible for brands to provide an immersive AR ad experience and encourage people to interact via their surroundings.

Instagram is also offering new multiadvertiser ads that use machine learning to serve ads from other businesses under an ad that may be of interest to the user. In theory these will help advertisers be discovered by Instagram users who are already in a shopping mindset. The new option is only enabled for direct-response objectives. Advertisers will have to opt in, with the opportunity to opt out whenever they choose.

The most interesting take-away from Meta’s new ad formats is the way Meta is trying to monetize the value of Reels for creators and Meta. For in-Reel Facebook ads, creators would get 55 percent of the revenue, while Meta would get 45 percent. The more consumers see Reels, the less time they spend in the legacy parts of the platform like the main feed.

In a July earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We saw a more than 30% increase in the time that people spent engaging with Reels across Facebook and Instagram.” If creators of Reels can make money from their participation on these platforms, they could start to win back some of the audience Meta has been losing to TikTok.

Will Meta succeed? One concern advertisers shared with Adweek is that too many ad formats could create saturation. If users feel like their experience is cluttered with too many ads, their engagement with Meta platforms will decline.

But if monetizing Reels makes Meta a more attractive destination for creators, the format could provide a credible alternative to TikTok. For now, businesses should work with their agency partners to evaluate these ad products against where their audiences are most likely engaging with their brands. If you are already achieving strong results by advertising on TikTok, for instance, Meta’s new formats might not be necessary unless you aim to court Meta’s relatively older audience (compared to TikTok). But if you’re already looking for ways to reach Meta’s audience, and you’ve been using Meta as an ad platform, these formats may hold more appeal.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with social media advertising, contact True Interactive. We have extensive experience helping businesses succeed on social media.

The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

Social media

How are teens spending their time on social media these days? This is an important question for advertisers. That’s because teens spend money. They talk about their favorite brands with each other. Their preferences influence the popular cultural trends that advertisers need to understand in order to stay relevant. And if advertisers play their cards right, they can, in turn, influence teen behavior.

A new survey of Americans aged 13-17 from Pew Research Center reports some eye-opening findings about where and how teens are spending their time online. Key findings:

  • YouTube reigns. 95 percent of teens use YouTube, followed by TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Social Media Apps

  • Only 32 percent use Facebook, compared to 71 percent in 2014-15. Not only is there a smaller share of teenage Facebook users than there was in 2014-15, teens who do use Facebook are also relatively less frequent users of the platform compared to the other platforms covered in this survey. Just 7 percent of teen Facebook users say they are on the site or app almost constantly (representing 2 percent of all teens). Still, about six-in-ten teen Facebook users (57 percent) visit the platform daily.

Leading Social Sites

  • Many teens are always on. 46 percent of teens say they’re on the internet “almost constantly,” up from 24 percent in 2014-2015.  Roughy one in five teens are almost constantly on YouTube, which leads all platforms.

Social Media Usage

  • The vast majority of teens have access to digital devices, such as smartphones (95 percent), desktop or laptop computers (90 percent) and gaming consoles (80 percent). Since 2014-15, there has been a 22 percentage point rise in the share of teens who report having access to a smartphone (95 percent now and 73 percent then). While teens’ access to smartphones has increased over roughly the past eight years, their access to other digital technologies, such as desktop or laptop computers or gaming consoles, has remained statistically unchanged.
  • More affluent teens are particularly likely to have access to all three devices. Fully 76 percent of teens that live in households that make at least $75,000 a year say they have or have access to a smartphone, a gaming console and a desktop or laptop computer, compared with smaller shares of teens from households that make less than $30,000 or teens from households making $30,000 to $74,999 a year who say they have access to all three (60 percent and 69 percent of teens, respectively).
  • U.S. teens living in households that make $75,000 or more annually are 12 points more likely to have access to gaming consoles and 15 points more likely to have access to a desktop or laptop computer than teens from households with incomes under $30,000.
  • Habits vary by demographic. Teen boys are more likely than teen girls to say they use YouTube, Twitch and Reddit. Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Higher shares of Black and Hispanic teens report using TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp compared with white teens.

Implications for Brands

  • Short-form content on TikTok is popular, but so is longer-form content on YouTube. Within just a few years, TikTok has famously rocketed to popularity by featuring videos that are about 30 seconds in length (often shorter). But YouTube’s popularity demonstrates that teens also like more in-depth video content, as Mashable points out. Longer-form content lends itself to content marketing, such as “how to” topics and podcasts, as noted here. On the other hand, shorter-form TikTok videos lend themselves to catchy, engaging micro-moments. To use a television analogy, TikTok is the place for 30-second spots, and YouTube for advertorials. As one influencer on LinkedIn wrote, “If digital media is hunger, TikTok feels like McDonalds, and YouTube feels like [insert fairly decent quality restaurant]. TikTok gives you dopamine hits. It’s addicting, you can become consumed by it, but it doesn’t mean you’re satisfied with the quality. Each swipe is, ‘okay, now what’s next.’ Before you know it, it’s an hour. YouTube, even with most videos watched being through recommendations, provides a deeper connection with the viewer. If you watch a video for >1min, you’re truly invested. This also means that creators will build more meaningful viewer connections through YouTube. All data shows that Gen Z appreciates the quality and connections of YouTube.”
  • Teens are not all the same. Variances exist by income level and demographic, as noted above. It’s important to understand the differences depending on your audience. In addition to the statistics cited above, we also noticed the popularity of gaming consoles among more affluent teens. And overall, Hispanic (47 percent) and Black teens (45 percent) are more likely than white teens (26 percent) to say they use at least one of the five most popular social media online platforms almost constantly. And teen girls are most likely to be social media loyal than teen boys: teen girls are more likely than teen boys to express it would be difficult to give up social media (58 percent versus 49 percent). All of these nuances influence any company that wants to launch a credible multi-cultural marketing strategy.
  • Facebook still matters, but Instagram does even more. Even though it’s less popular among teens than it was in 2014-15, it’s still more popular with teens than Twitter, Twitch, WhatsApp, Reddit, and Tumblr. As teens get older, they may very well spend more time on Facebook. And Facebook the platform still enjoys widespread usage among adults, as seen in other recent Center studies. However, it’s clear that among Meta’s brands, Instagram is more important for reaching teens, especially as Instagram morphs into a social selling site.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including social mediavideo, and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

TikTok and Instagram Challenge Google for Gen Z Searches

TikTok and Instagram Challenge Google for Gen Z Searches

Google Instagram TikTok

Google has a new challenger for product searches: TikTok and Instagram.

At a recent conference, a Google executive went on record as saying, “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

This was a surprisingly candid admission from a company whose YouTube app has been battling TikTok especially for leadership in the video space. (Insider Intelligence predicts TikTok’s advertising revenue will overtake YouTube by 2024.)

Although Google is easily the world’s most popular search engine, when it comes to searches for things to buy, the company is not quite as popular. For example, Amazon is the Number One website for people to do product searches: according to a 2018 Jumpshot report, from 2015 to 2018, Amazon overtook Google in this area, with Amazon growing to claim 54 percent of product searches while Google declined from 54 percent to 46 percent. According to Marketplace Pulse, a majority of Amazon searches—78 percent, in fact—are nonbranded. Instead of pinpointing a specific company like lululemon, say, many customers are making broad searches such as “yoga pants for women” and seeing what comes up.

And we all know how easy it is to buy something on Amazon once you are done searching, right?

Well, Google has been trying to make itself a stronger destination for shopping amid Amazon’s ascendance. For instance, Google recently launched new commerce-related features such as:

  • Swipeable shopping ads in search. A new ad display pairs organic shopping results with shopping ads, which makes online shopping more visual. The new swipeable shopping feed is available for apparel brands via Search or Performance Max campaigns. These will be clearly labeled as ads and will be eligible to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.
  • Product feeds for a shoppable YouTube experience. Advertisers will soon have the ability to connect product feeds to campaigns in order to create shoppable video ads on YouTube Shorts. With YouTube Shorts, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds, similar to how TikTok and Instagram Reels are used. Shoppable video ads on Shorts helps Google capitalize on social shopping.

The problem with Instagram and TikTok is that they appeal to the surging Gen Z population, who look especially to TikTok for recommendations for things to buy.  According to The New York Times, two-thirds of TikTok users have been inspired to shop, even if that wasn’t their original intent when accessing the app in the first place. The phenomenon has gained enough attention that it even has a hashtag: #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has garnered more than 16.7 billion views on the app.

Even more worrisome for YouTube, TikTok and Instagram are both launching social shopping tools. For instance, TikTok recently launched the TikTokShop to make it easy for people to buy things right int the app. Instagram has launched a number of tools as part of Instagram Shopping, including:

  • Instagram Checkout, which facilitates simple, convenient, and secure purchases made directly from Instagram. Shopping from Instagram means protected payment information is kept in one place. So, Instagrammers can shop multiple favorite brands without having to log in and enter intel multiple times.
  • Instagram Live, which allows checkout-enabled businesses to sell products through “live shopping.” In live shopping, consumers might be inspired by a creator or brand’s live video content and subsequently buy promoted products in real-time.

In fact, 130 million people tap on an Instagram Shopping post and engage with Instagram Checkout every month.

All told, social commerce is exploding. eMarketer predicts that by 2023, 2021, U.S. retail social commerce sales will rise to $56.17 billion.

Google is also responding to these challenges. In addition to the features noted above, the company is making search more immersive and engaging by incorporating rich visual features and augmented reality. These should help the company make the search and shopping experience livelier.

Google is making progress. Morgan Stanley says that in November 2021, 57 percent of shoppers first went to Google platforms (including Search and YouTube) to research a new product, up from 54% in May 2021. In addition, the number of Amazon Prime subscribers turning to Google for initial searches increased to 56 percent from 51 percent in the same period.

What Businesses Should Do

  • Understand your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Boomers? Not all social commerce platforms are the same. As noted, TikTok and Instagram resonates with Gen Z. Boomers tend to gravitate to Facebook. Ask yourself: who am I trying to reach, and where can I find them?
  • Learn how to use the tools available to you. Each platform has its own requirements for creating content. In addition, these popular sites demand a strong understanding of how to use visuals — anymore, it’s essential that brands know how to create powerful imagery.
  • Capitalize on Google’s advertising tools that are designed to be more visually appealing. For instance, Google recently rolled out Discovery ads, which are image-rich ads designed for a more “laid back” search experience (more about that here). Google is clearly doubling down on the visual web, and advertisers should expect more visually appealing ad products as it attempts to become a stronger e-commerce player.
  • Take a closer look at video advertising and organic content sharing, given Google’s interest in building out a more robust search experience on YouTube.

Meanwhile, TikTok and Instagram will most certainly dial up their own advertising products to attract companies that want to have their sponsored content appear alongside search results. Gear up for more ad choices!

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

What Does the Redesigned Instagram Content Feed Mean to Brands?

What Does the Redesigned Instagram Content Feed Mean to Brands?

Instagram

Instagram is giving more power to the people. Meta, Instagram’s parent, has announced that the social networking service will now give users two new ways to view their feeds: “Following” and “Favorites” (the standard “Home” experience, based on by the Instagram algorithm, is still an option too). Let’s take a closer look at these alternatives and what the development means for brands.

Following vs. Favorites vs. Home

So, what are these options, exactly? Essentially, Instagram wants to give users more control over what they see. For context, let’s review the experience Instagram users are accustomed to getting: the Home experience. This is an algorithm-based feed by which Instagram presents content that Instagram thinks users will be most interested in, based on their viewing habits. Notably, the Home experience is not purely chronological—it’s grounded first and foremost in user interests.

Instagram’s hunch is that the Home experience will remain the preferred go-to for users, so they’ve made it the default. As an Instagram spokesperson explained to CNET, “people have a better experience on Instagram with a ranked feed, so we won’t be defaulting people into a chronological feed.”

But now, based on a March 23 announcement from Meta, users also have the choice of a chronological experience with the Following and Favorites options:

  • The Following option presents a steady feed of posts from all the people one follows.
  • Favorites gives users the ability to further curate what they see by allowing them to designate up to 50 accounts they want to view higher in their feeds.

Users can make changes to their Favorites list at any time (people are not notified when they are added or removed).

Both Following and Favorites show posts in chronological order, making it easy to catch up on recent posts.

How Might Brands Adapt?

According to Ad Age, the chronological feed (for both Following and Favorites) may prove advantageous to advertisers and facilitate more real-time marketing opportunities. Amber Gallihar Boyes, director analyst at research firm Gartner, notes, “On the brand and creator side, there is an excitement and optimism about [the new structure]. I’ve seen creators just really feeling beaten down by lack of reach on Instagram and this gives them some element of control because they can make sure they’re connecting with their most loyal fans and followers.”

Live situations already lend themselves to Instagram, but the chronological feed, by creating a sense of immediacy, could prove especially beneficial to marketers during events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl.

“If you play it right [as a brand] you can almost . . . give people the experience that ‘if you’re not there when it happens, you’re missing out,’” Shawn Francis, head of creative at social media marketing company We Are Social, explains. He adds that it behooves brands or creators to ask “what content can you put out that makes people say, ‘I have to follow this brand in real-time.’”

In other words? Brands can lean into that FOMO.

They can also lobby to be on the coveted Favorites list: some creators are even putting out tutorials to teach fans how to add to their Favorites feed, presumably with the hope that their brand name will place high on the list when it’s created.

But achieving Favorites status is no slam dunk. “With 50 spots, people will be selective,” Nicholas Stoeckle, executive director of strategy and innovation at advertising and production company PPK, points out.

Competitive as it is, the Favorites list will certainly give brands a clearer sense of who their most loyal fans are, based on whether the brand makes it into a given Favorites section. Brands and creators will also get the opportunity to experiment with different posting times, to see if there are “sweet spots” for them in the chronological feed.

Contact True Interactive

Social media platforms are constantly evolving to meet users’ needs, and Instagram’s recent announcement is just one example. Trying to stay abreast of —and to leverage — these changes? Contact us. We can help.

Facebook Reels: What Brands Need to Know

Facebook Reels: What Brands Need to Know

Facebook

One year after Instagram announced the debut of short-form video feature Instagram Reels, parent company Facebook is joining the party. Reels first debuted on Instagram in 2020 in a clear bid to compete with TikTok. Facebook, having recently announced its plans to test Facebook Reels in the United States, is now figuring out ways to make Reels a more popular feature on Facebook itself (the U.S. initiative is an expansion of testing already launched in Mexico, Canada, and India). As part of the test, Instagram users can cross-post their reels to Facebook.

What do these developments mean for your brand? Read on to learn more.

What Is the Reels Feature?

When Reels rolled out on Instagram in 2020, the video time cap was 15 seconds, but the feature has since grown, and grown again: videos can now be up to one minute long. Using Facebook Reels, people can watch others’ videos, as well as create/share their own reels from the Facebook app. The feature’s reason for being? To allow people to “express themselves, discover entertaining content, and to help creators broaden their reach.” According to Facebook, almost half of time spent on the app is devoted to watching videos. Pair this data with the statement that Reels is growing “especially quickly,” and the test run of Facebook Reels makes a tremendous amount of sense. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors, “We’re very focused on making it easy for anyone to create video, and then for those videos to be viewed across all of our different services, starting with Facebook and Instagram first.”

As Zuckerberg implies, emphasis is on creativity and its possibilities. Facebook Reels users have access to creation tools much like those already available on Instagram: video capture, for example, as well as camera roll import, timed text, and music selection. Editing tools allow people to speed up or slow down their video, and to incorporate augmented reality effects from Facebook or third-party developers. And after creating a reel, users can decide how to share it: with select friends, or the default share, which is the general public. As is the case throughout Facebook, Reels will be recommended to people based on their interests, who they engage with, and what’s trending as popular.

Why This News Matters

Facebook’s efforts speak to deeper trends and resonances. For one thing, the news demonstrates the tremendous sway TikTok holds in the social world. TikTok enjoys approximately one billion monthly active users. Sixty percent of TikTok users hail from Gen Z, soon to become the largest generation. Furthermore, TikTok users of all ages have proven themselves to be ardent fans, spending an average of 52 minutes per day in the platform and opening the app roughly 8 times per day. Eighty-three percent of TikTok users have posted a video. Facebook understands and respects these stats, and is responding accordingly.

The news also underlines the growing importance of video. As noted above, video accounts for  a major chunk of time spent on Facebook. And on Facebook’s latest earnings call, Zuckerberg pointed to Reels as “the largest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram.” In short, videos are hot.

Reels represent a possible advertising opportunity. While Facebook told TechCrunch that Reels on Facebook don’t currently include ads, the plan is “to roll out ads in the future.” Instagram, which has already begun to monetize Reels through ads, is showing what that might look like for Facebook down the road.

Finally, Facebook’s actions underscore the growing influence of individual creators. Consider the fact that in July, the social networking behemoth announced a plan to invest more than $1 billion in creators across both Facebook and Instagram through 2022. The platform’s willingness to shell out that kind of cash speaks to a fundamental belief in influencers’ power.

What Brands Should Do

What do these developments mean for brands? We recommend that you:

  • Embrace video, especially short-form video. Facebook is certainly demonstrating its commitment to the form. And as we blogged earlier this year, apps such as YouTube are launching short-form video options such as YouTube Shorts.
  • Look for advertising opportunities. Reels may not include ads on Facebook yet, but as noted above, the landscape is constantly evolving. What opportunities for advertising on video features exist today?
  • Understand that influencers hold a lot of sway. Consider how you might partner with individual creators to do influencer outreach for your brand.

Contact True Interactive

Pondering the role video might play in your brand’s strategic plan? Contact us. We can advise.