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Reel them in

Updated on: 25 July,2021 09:24 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Aastha Atray Banan |

You may be a writer, illustrator, or a saree brand—if you want to get audiences to your page on Instagram, be ready to dance, make memes, and do trending video challenges

Reel them in

The Indian Ethnic Co’s first dance Reel in sarees got a million views. Follow them on @theindianethnicco

Graphic designer and illustrator Karruna Valecha, founder of DesignvaleCo, had been shying away from Instagram Reels. The  thought of putting herself out there seemed daunting. “But then, I realised, you have to play the game.” She decided to up her marketing strategy by hopping on the Reels bandwagon. “People want to know the face behind the brand—they want to know your story.” But how does one get followers and non-followers excited about design logos?

Valecha, 31, oscillates between making funny meme-type videos, and showcasing her design process in cute seven-second reels. “I do a mix, because I want it to be relevant to my profession, but also fun enough for anyone to watch. I keep saving trending songs, and writing down ideas, and shooting all of them on one day in a week,” she says, adding, “I don’t care about the numbers, but I care about getting work, and that has increased manifold. That’s why, I will keep at this.”

(Left) Tanish Shah makes 30-second Reels to help his followers make easy cocktails and food at home. Follow him on @theghotalaguy; (right) graphic designer Karruna Valecha says that if you need to grow, you should play the Reels game. Follow her on @designvaleco(Left) Tanish Shah makes 30-second Reels to help his followers make easy cocktails and food at home. Follow him on @theghotalaguy; (right) graphic designer Karruna Valecha says that if you need to grow, you should play the Reels game. Follow her on @designvaleco

Instagram launched Reels in India in July 2020, around the time TikTok got banned. The millions of influencers and video lovers organically migrated to the app then, and there has been no looking back. In September, there was a separate tab created for Reels. Today, it has become the most valuable and useful way to get traction on the social media app. The key lies in being authentic, real and consistent.

Earlier this month, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said that video content was the way ahead. “We’re no longer a photo sharing app,” he admitted. On his official Twitter handle, Mosseri wrote, “At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: creators, video, shopping and messaging.”

Sukriti Jindal Khaitan, co-founder, asa beautySukriti Jindal Khaitan, co-founder, asa beauty

Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, also announced on July 16, that they would be investing $1 billion on the apps, just to support creators, especially those who make video content. In fact, they plan to pay creators who make great Reels. When we spoke to Instagram India, Archana Vohra, Director, Small & Medium Business, Facebook India, said, “Reels is the best place on Instagram to reach people who don’t follow you and a growing global stage where brands and creators can be discovered by anyone. For instance @thequirkynaari, a Gurgaon-based business which sells custom shoes as well as bridal footwear, is leveraging trending music to showcase their products. @aachho, a women’s apparel brand from Jaipur, is working with influencers to showcase its Indian apparel; @coral_blushh, a Mumbai-based vegan bags and accessories brand, introduced itself on Reels using the ‘small business owner check’ original audio trend.” An average of six million Reels are produced in India every day.  

For furnishings, jewellery and clothing brand The Indian Ethnic Co, Reels came at the right time—just when they were planning to launch their sarees. “The brand has always been about showcasing real women, and we try not to professionalise the photographs. We wanted to keep that in mind [when making videos as well],” says 29-year-old Lekhinee Desai, founder of the four-year-old business. Desai, who is a trained Odissi dancer, got her sister Twara, and her other dancer friends to wear the sarees and make a dance video on Reels. “We got a million views in a few days, and the sarees were sold out!” What worked for them, feels Desai, is that the girls, all of different body shapes and ages, looked comfortable moving in the ensemble. Ever since, they chose Reels as their primary tool for marketing on Instagram, their following has more than doubled from 160k to 380k. They keep the steps simple, and choose songs that everyone enjoys, like AR Rahman favourites.

Meanwhile, asa beauty has been making Reels that show influencers showcasing make-up looks from scratch, which, they say, has helped them build an audience. Co-founder Sukriti Jindal Khaitan says, “Reels have given us a platform to showcase our brand associations, the future creators, and voices of purposeful luxury. The ‘how to apply’ Reels have gained the most traction. Consumers, or even potential consumers, are interested in knowing how the product will look post application. This has really helped our brand in terms of discovery, visibility and follower engagement.”

It’s not just brands that are milking the trend, but personal creators too. Tanish Shah, 30, who is a mechanical engineer-turned-chef, uses Reels to share easy 30-second recipes for food and cocktails. “I have a mantra: keep it as easy as possible. I help users make cocktails with what they have in their fridge, no fancy liquors required. And all of it is done in a fun format with a trending song playing in the background.” In the end, it’s all about finding a balance, says Desai. “Reels are a perfect mix of creativity, sales and marketing. It’s a win-win.” 

USD 1 Bn
The amount Facebook will be investing on its apps, to support creators, especially those who make video content

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