Instagram Reels first came to the global social media and image-sharing platform in 2020, most likely as a response/rival to the rise in popularity of TikTok, the app where short-form video clips are king.
At the beginning of June 2022, Instagram rolled out several new features (opens in new tab) for Reels, which the platform says will "help you engage more with your audience and help you express your most authentic self."
You could argue – quite cynically – that Instagram's only purpose is to push users to post more often, increase their followers and generally engage more, which is why it is keen for 'creators' to take full advantage of creating Reels on their accounts. It adds: "Over a 60-day period, public accounts with over 10K followers that posted at least five reels over 60 days gained over 2.5x as many followers as those within the same category who didn't post reels."
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Digging down into the updates, the company cites five new features that can be used to improve Instagram Reels – and how you create videos to share with your followers. The first is a refreshed collection of sound effects, that can be used to liven up a clip, add some comedy value or just "help your audience get in their emotions." There's also a raft of new templates and interactive stickers.
An exciting improvement for many photographers and videographers is that the maximum length of a Reel has been extended to 90 seconds (they started out as 15 seconds), which gives much more time to share content and get across whatever story you want to tell – whether it's behind the scenes clips, or promotional feature for a client, that extra time should expand creative choices somewhat.
Another exciting addition for many content creators is the ability to import your own choice of audio directly within Instagram Reels – a massive update for content creators who really do create Reels while they're out and about but still want to make sure the quality is good. The import audio feature can be used to add speech or ambient sounds from any video that's five seconds or longer in your current camera roll.
Instagram says that it's investing in even more ways for users to connect and entertain followers. We haven't always been the biggest fan of Insta updates (opens in new tab), but it'll be interesting to see how the new features are used by real-life photographers – and whether they make Reels a more engaging place to hang.
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