If you’re in any way connected to the social media marketing world, you’ve likely heard the advice “Use Reels! It’s the only way to get any reach on Instagram now!” And, it makes sense! It’s well accepted by now that the Instagram algorithm rewards users that get on the bandwagon of new features, and they are pushing short-form video hard right now in order to compete with TikTok. Plus, the data seems promising — like, the NBA franchise seeing an average of 22% higher engagement on Reels than the average engagements they’ve had from posts and stories.
But, is Reels really the be all to end all when it comes to getting eyes and engagement on your Instagram content? We recently ran a Reels Challenge, where we encouraged our users to show up on video for 9 consecutive days. This was not only a great opportunity to help support our Plann’rs in being consistent on socials, but it also proved to be an excellent experiment! We were able to unearth some valuable insights from our community on how posting Reels daily impacted their reach, engagement and following count.
So, how much does Reels increase your reach, Reely? Read on for the inside scoop!
Reels will probably increase your reach….
One thing we noticed across the board with our Plann’rs was an increase in reach throughout the challenge. For Gloria from @citylimitscountryfeel, she saw an increase in reach from 32%. Meanwhile, beekeepers Williams Honey Farm saw an eye-boggling increase of 258% compared to the week before.
The data seems pretty clear — using Reels allows you to reach a much wider audience than just the people who are following you. However, it’s likely that those who are new to the Reels bandwagon will see the likely benefit. On our Plann account — where we were already using Reels — we actually saw a decrease in reach of 29%.
And your content interactions, too
The increased reach of Reels seems to have a knock-on effect of boosting your overall engagement, too. Of the people we surveyed on an Instagram poll, 57% of those saw an increase in content interactions during the challenge. This can encompass not only the Reels themselves, but other content too like stories and grid posts.
On the Plann account, our content interactions were up by 87% overall, despite the dip in reach. We saw that trend across our users too, with @williamshoneytn seeing an enormous 144% increase in content interactions. @citylimitscountryfeel also saw a 27% increase in Reels interaction and 45% boost in story interactions, and 10% boost in website clicks.
But, that may not be the same for every video
One thing that became glaringly obvious throughout the challenge was that not all Reels are created equal. The performance of one Reel is by no means a predictor of the next. On the Plann account, we saw a huge range of performance from 700 to 2300 on our Reels, despite posting at the exact same time every day, with the same hashtags.
Our content editor Emma saw this in action, too. Her top-performing Reel attracted 3729 views, while the next only received 415. The reach of this post seemed to peak early, with Emma receiving over 1000 views within the first 45 minutes.
There seems to be a few different factors at play here:
• Timing and hashtags are likely still important for dictating the performance of Reels, but not as important as the quality and relevancy of the content
• New Reels users of those who haven’t posted in a while may experience some ‘newbie’ gains ie. where the platform boosts their content in the algorithm to encourage them to keep posting. So, you may see higher reach on your first Reel than other, later ones
• The Reels algorithm seems to work in a similar way to TikTok, where how your video performs in the first hour seems to affect how many people your video will ultimately reach
You may attract new followers
There’s no denying that Reels is a great tool for discovery, as it offers a brand new way for potential followers to find your account. So, if your video is targeted enough, you’ll likely attract some new ideal clients.
Many Plann’rs reported attracting new followers during the challenge, including our Content Editor Emma, after her (comparatively) popular video on procrastination. Of course, whether new people will follow you after seeing your Reel also depends on how well your profile and content grabs them — it’s not enough to be a one-hit wonder.
… and lose some along the way
Yep, there’s also the possibility you may lose some followers along the way, when you start posting more Reels. At Plann, our following count when slightly down throughout the challenge, before jumping back up. Beekeepers Williams Honey also lost 34 followers throughout the 9 days.
But, here’s why that isn’t such a bad thing. It’s possible that the increased visibility of Reels can ‘wake up’ ghost followers who haven’t seen your content in a while. And, if they’re no longer interested in your content, they may hit the ‘unfollow’ button. But, those people were never going to engage or buy from you anyway, so by weeding them out you’re going to end up with a more engaged audience, anyway.
Plus, it’s not unusual for following counts to fluctuate anyway. So, while you may actually have seen some new, more targeted followers, you might have also lost unengaged ones in the process, too.
So, what are the biggest nuggets of wisdom we can all take from this challenge?
Well, it’s safe to say that Reels is a powerful tool for cutting through the noise and growing your social media following. But, is it the only tool? Definitely not! In fact, Reels seems to work best when combined with other content types like stories, grid posts, and carousels. During the challenge, we actually found that our post impressions were consistently higher than our Reels impressions.
It seems that adding a couple of Reels to your content mix each week can be a powerful strategy that will bring in new followers and increase the visibility of your other posts, too. But, don’t feel like you have to post 3 Reels a day to reap the benefits — simply using them to compliment your other content where possible should be enough to see the boost.
Schedule your Reels, Grid Posts, Carousels + Stories With Plann
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