During their 2022 presidential election, I was in France receiving concerned texts from my mom about how close the race was to being won by the far-right nationalist candidate, Marine Le Pen – but the race wasn’t even close. Macron won by nearly 20% and that’s one of a million examples of how American media today operates on sensationalism, wagering accuracy and credibility for shock-value and attention.
Nearly all media we consume lives and breathes on hyped up trend cycles – including the social media marketing industry – a fact that takes a huge toll on independent bootstrapping brands trying to figure out how to grow online. Whiplash, shiny object syndrome, and FOMU (fear of messing up) keep us from creating sustainable holistic digital marketing strategies that drive real business growth.
The current headline, written by Instagram itself, is Reels or bust. But when we surveyed hundreds of Strong Brand Social community members – up-and-coming consumer brands across dozens of industries – it hardly seems that this is the silver bullet Meta makes it out to be. Hundreds of brand leaders told us that despite investing massive amounts of time in the Reels format our reach is not impacted or, if and when a Reel “lands” and garners a lot of views and engagement, it’s not leading to sales.
Of course, curiosity encouraged us to review our agency’s client accounts to examine the patterns from data, not hearsay. We chose shares and reach as the key metrics because if the point of Reels is to reach more people and generate audience growth, shares and reach are directly correlated. Not to mention, shares lead to more people that look like your current customers seeing your content, tapping through to your profile, and following along.
It’s not that Reels aren’t in the mix – it’s just that there are tried-and-true contenders in every industry that take way less time to produce (and a different skillset if you’re not naturally inclined on Reels). Plus, these formats have been working for a decade, proving our point that despite what the “experts” want you to think, there is such a thing as sustainable content and social media strategy.
The top three: Quotes, GIF Memes, and Reels
Here are some examples!
The OG of shareable social content, quotes might be the quickest way to cut through the noise and connect with your customer. The most beautiful part? The simpler, the better. After 12 years in this industry I’ve observed 100% of the time: overdesigned quotes achieve lower engagement than minimalist designs. The challenge is that the quote and caption need to be original, snappy, and speak to your customer. So if you prefer copywriting over video, this is definitely a go-to format for you.
These are just fun, and anyone working on social media content deserves a good laugh. Go to giphy, look at trending gifs (or type in a word that aligns with the point you’re trying to make) find a funny one that is relatable to your audience, add one of the first lines that comes to mind when you see the GIF, and you’re golden! These formats also work well after pop culture events because there’s usually trending content from the event and they’re super quick to create in the heat of the moment.
Everyone is talking about this, so rather than regurgitate all the stuff you can find on the internet already, I’ll offer this read: How to reduce your anxiety about Instagram Reels (a guide to quick, simple, effective Reels that your actual customers and prospects will love). In April 2022, Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri announced that the algorithm will be prioritizing original content creators by utilizing features like ranking for originality. Note that he is specifically talking about content creators, not consumer brands! Businesses like ours should be partnering with content creators as part of our content strategy, not copycatting their content strategy and hoping it works for us. Your job is to align with your customers, period. We have a quick course for that.
The point of this conversation is not to dissuade you from Reels if they are working for you – it’s to offer the notion that despite what the headlines read, you can tap into your own strengths, spend less time on social media marketing, and grow your brand measurably on your own terms.
Learn more about how to do that in this masterclass.
In your corner,