Why vertical videos like Instagram Reels can really make a social media campaign – North Bay Business Journal

September 19, 2022
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Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.
Read Shana’s past columns.
Meta (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp’s parent company) is currently having difficulty defining its brand.
Yes, Facebook is still the largest social media site in the world, and Instagram is one of the best places for North Bay hospitality brands to connect with consumers — IMO — but recent signs point to slowing user growth for both social media platforms — and they aren’t handling it well.
If you work in social media marketing, you may have noticed that your Instagram and even your Facebook feeds have started to display more vertical videos from users you aren’t following and brands you didn’t even know existed.
What’s going on?
It’s no secret that Meta has been feeling the pressure as users move away from the platform and toward rivals like TikTok. To get people to use the site again, Facebook has been borrowing ideas from its competitor and is now pushing Reels and algorithm-based recommendations for videos and accounts to follow.
The problem?
People say they aren’t that interested in Reels, especially Reels from people they don’t know. Though Instagram says the opposite is true, people may say they don’t like Reels, but they spend more time watching those types of videos than looking at images. Instagram head Adam Mosseri said whether they change the algorithm by showing more Reels from people you aren’t following or not — “at the end of the day: people are watching more videos on Instagram.”
What does this mean for brands?
For now, it seems like Facebook is still the best platform for digital ads and connecting with locals, and Instagram is still the best for reach and engagement. But as the user base for both continues to decline, brands will need to be aware, and possibly adapt their social media strategy.
One North Bay business embracing the changes on Instagram is Wise Acre Farm in Windsor.
Farmher Tiffany (no, that is not a typo) is an urban farmer raising poultry from her farm in Windsor. She has an egg vending machine on the road next to her property and didn’t even have a website until the early days of the pandemic.
She started using Instagram (@wiseacre_farm) to show off her personal story, and Facebook to connect with customers. Her early videos on Instagram would get 200–600 views.
In December 2021, she posted her first Reel: a short video of her feeding her chickens. The video was her showing off the egg vending machine, and it received over 20,000 views.
Tiffany told me that when her Reels started getting thousands of views and hundreds of comments, she “embraced it” and kept sharing.
“I used to put so much time and effort into photos and captions, but I was constantly stressed out and could not get a follower to save my life. I just started posting short Reels showing off my life on the farm, and for whatever reason, a five-second video of chickens with some trending audio got the attention of many people.”
In fact, her behind-the-scenes Reels received over 7.4 million views in June 2022, with a few videos getting over one million views apiece. Each video is under 6 seconds and shows off her many chickens, some ducks, herself, and a few adorable pups.
A post shared by Farmher Tiffany (@wiseacre_farm)
She has over 100,000 followers on Instagram now and has connected with other farmers worldwide. She says, “I am a better farmer because I talk to them about life on the farm, with topics like sustainability practices and how to deal with predators.”
But she still believes that Facebook is a better platform for her local business. That’s where she connects with customers in Sonoma County who come by her farm to grab eggs.
Even with her massive success with Instagram Reels, she hasn’t noticed a huge spike in sales. Her views on Instagram are worldwide, and she has no interest in shipping eggs, so she has changed her mindset about what the social media platform can do for her business.
Originally, her Reels started as a way to showcase her personal journey and vlog about her life on the farm.
Now she actually gets paid by Instagram as a creator. She gets paid by Meta for views (note: I do as well but on a much, much lower scale), similar to what TikTok does with their creator fund.
Social media platforms change quickly, so those who can adapt quickly will always be ahead of the curve.
And while not everyone needs to focus on Reels, being able to create these vertical short-form videos for Instagram, YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and even Facebook may become more important to your social media marketing strategy — especially if you want to reach a younger audience.
How businesses can change their mindset about social media videos:
1. Focus on what you can do, and don’t try to do it all.
As Tiffany received more and more DMs and comments on her Reels, she realized that she was spending too much time trying to reply to everybody.
“I am focusing on creating content, not engaging with comments anymore,” she says.
Focus on what motivates you and what you are good at.
2. Remember your community.
Even though she isn’t replying to everyone, she still pays attention to DMs and engages with a small community of other farmers. This is where she exchanges tips and tricks for farm life (and where we connected for an interview).
3. Take time off when it makes sense to recharge.
Social media will still be there when you come back.
4. Don’t overthink it.
Content creation gets stressful if you overthink every detail about posts, captions, and hashtags. In some cases, perfectionism can lead to feeling overwhelmed, taking a long time to create a piece of content, or even not beginning it at all. None of these are ideal situations, and all can easily be avoided by using a simple mantra: keep it simple. Tiffany recommends that you “always sleep on things and return to them.”
5. Everything is content.
No matter your job, take videos of behind the scenes at your life at work. You only need a few seconds for a video. “It’s amazing how fast those seconds go,” Tiffany says. You may have heard of the trending audio that sings “everything is content.” It’s TRUE. Take videos of what you do during your everyday life at work. Add some inspiring music and entertain or educate your audience.
6. Create your Reels when you are feeling inspired.
Take the short recordings from your phone and add trending audio or add a voiceover and hit save within your Instagram app. Tiffany spends time making Reels in the morning when she gets her caffeine boost. She scrolls through other Reels, only listening to the audio instead of looking at the images on her screen. That way, she can feel inspired by her own content instead of feeling like she has to recreate what others are doing. She saves that audio, and when she is feeling uninspired, she goes back and listens again.
7. Look at your analytics.
Take a look at what’s working and try to find other ways of doing videos that share the same ideas. Be ready to adapt when needed.
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Shana Bull is a marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at shana@shanabull.com, @sharayray on Instagram or at shanabull.com.
Read Shana’s past columns.

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