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Reels vs. TikTok 2021: The Social Showdown

In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world.  Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in!    Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden?  Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling.  With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal.  The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content.    What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok?  Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users.    Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm.  When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app.  TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others.  Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive.  Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects.  TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities.  Platform Purpose   Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know.  At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference.  While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while.  The Algorithm  Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm.  Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app.  Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique.     How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions:  Which platform is your audience on currently?  Which one can you commit to doing consistently?  While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity.  The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.  

What to Do When Your Brand Can't Exactly 'Pay-to-Play' on Facebook

As social media marketers, we've heard that Facebook is undoubtedly moving towards a 'pay-to-play' model for businesses. But what exactly does that mean? And what exactly does that mean for your brand? It means that Facebook has changed its algorithm to limit the reach of organic content posted by brand pages in an effort to encourage businesses to invest media dollars in paid Facebook advertising and post promotion. Facebook is going head to head in competition with Google to lead in online advertising revenue, which means we can only expect organic reach on the platform to continue to decline as this initiative evolves. That said, the reality is that not every brand has the room in their budget to invest in media dollars on Facebook. So, how do you break through the barriers of this potentially threatening algorithm change with your organic content? Be Real Approximately 63% of consumers say that they are highly annoyed with repeated, generic advertising messages. For Millennials, that percentage is higher. As a result, consumers crave authentic communication and transparent relationships with the brands they love or are interested it. Establish a human voice with your Facebook content. Use the language that your audience uses and responds to. This approach will help you break through the clutter of other annoying posts pushed out by brands who haven't gotten the memo yet and will help you more easily engage in a two-way conversation with your audience. Jump on Real Time Moments Similarly to being real, be relevant. One of the best ways to gain traction with your organic content is to join conversations about viral internet topics that your audience is already discussing and searching on Facebook. When it makes sense, act fast and find ways to naturally insert your brand into these conversations in a fun and interesting manner. When you do this, be sure to use the most popular hashtags and key phrases that your audience is using.  Creating real time content shows that you're actively engaged in the Facebook community and culturally relevant conversations, as opposed to simply pumping out evergreen content on a predetermined schedule. Not only will your reach exponentially increase, your audience will appreciate it'leaving them wanting more. It's proven to ring true with our own social media work at AMP Agency. Here are some great examples of other marketers and brands that get it. Like the time that Twix lit a fire under #TheDress debate:                             And when Arby's asked Pharrell for their hat back during the GRAMMYs: Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs ' Arby's (@Arbys) January 27, 2014 Let's not forget about the time Oreo saved the day during the Super Bowl XLVII power outage: Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC ' Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013 Shares, shares, shares When you're relying on organic reach, shares are your best friend. A share extends beyond a like, not only in the expanded reach potential it holds, but also in what it says about the way your audience is engaging with your content. When someone shares your content, they are really saying 'I enjoy or related to this post so much that I wish I had made it myself. I want everyone else to see it and enjoy it as much as I did.'Your ability to relate to your audience is key here.   For example When Bud Light read their audience's mind:                       Or when Forever 21 shared #WordsofWisdom with their millennial audience, 75% of which would like to travel abroad as much as possible:               Designing 'sharable'? content is where you'll need to think very critically about the psychographic profile of your target audience. Think to yourself, 'Is this message something that a member of my target audience would actually feel, say, or think themselves and want to share with their friends?'? Also don't forget to ask, 'Does it tie into my brand's core messaging in some way?' It's important not to lose your brand essence or voice in trying to be relatable or funny to gain shares. Use Video Content As Facebook continues to compete with Google owned YouTube to be the number one video uploading and viewing platform, native video content on Facebook has proven to reach nearly double the amount of people that images do, with 65% of that video content being viewed on mobile. Use this to your advantage! Create short, simple yet interesting video content that will engage your audience and let Facebook's video-favoring algorithm do the rest. source: http://www.beet.tv/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Slide09.jpg                     Next Steps Now, when planning future budgets, should paid social media get a piece of the pie? Yes, absolutely. But in the meantime, you can experiment with these approaches to optimizing your organic content on Facebook to stay afloat in a 'pay-to-play' world. Your turn: What other strategies have you found to be successful?

Content Marketing: How to Develop an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

As digital marketers the ball is always moving'innovation is the norm and only accelerating. The constant challenge for brands and marketers is to evaluate this evolving landscape and take advantage of new opportunities. Historically, being a search guy has meant constantly testing new placement, creative, device and campaign management technologies as both paid and organic search have become more personalized to the end user and competitive among brands. This is even more pronounced on a broader digital scale ' the past year alone has witnessed the explosive rise of Pinterest, Google finally entering the social world (for real this time) with Google+ and of course Facebook's acquisition of Instagram. Content Marketing is yet another tactic that has been buzz worthy in the past year. Like social media, a content strategy can mean a variety of things depending upon ultimately the program's objectives and level of sophistication. To help make sense of this, I thought I'd share the hierarchy of how we're thinking about content marketing for our clients. The good news is that if you have a website, you're probably doing it already to some degree. Digital Asset Optimization This is the baseline starting point. In all likelihood, you have a website and within that site you have produced and posted some content elements from videos to press releases to perhaps a blog. That's great, a big step and the most important. Yet, the greater benefit is in activating that content to expand your digital footprint throughout organic search, social media and other earned channels. Digital assets should be keyword optimized according to your SEO strategy, placed appropriately on site, enabled for sharing and distributed to relevant social channels. Brand Publisher While digital asset optimization is the initial starting point for developing and activating your content strategy, an advanced Content Marketing program is strategic, comprehensive and ongoing. Strategic in that message, channel and velocity of content is driven by empirical audience research. This data will identify clear audience drivers and needs and opportunities through which to engage them. Comprehensive as content is developed in a variety of forms thus reaching your audience through their preferred channel of engagement whether that be via webcast, article, video, infographic or other. Ongoing ' this ultimately refers to the concept of brands as publishers in that the content program should be consistent over time. This will not only foster a relationship with your customer, but frequent new content will expand your brand's overall footprint and organic search profile. Brands as Story Tellers Brands that have nailed down the fundamentals of content marketing then move on to more robust strategies of truly becoming story tellers. These brands have a well oiled publishing and distribution operation of research, development, activation and measurement. The next step is then pulling this unique brand positioning into all forms of communication from sales and support to social media engagement. It means truly owning your niche and telling your story through all facets of your business. Adding Value A colleague and mentor of mine once advised me to add value in every interaction whether that be personal or professional. That advice has been invaluable throughout my career and is at the core of what content marketing is all about. Regardless of where your brand is in the hierarchy of content strategies, the fundamental principle is simple - provide engaging, valuable information to your customers, clients and constituents. Add value and they will not only be customers, they'll be advocates.

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