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Is Instagram Reels Here to Stay?

Following its launch on 5th August, Instagram Reels looks to emulate the success of IG Stories. But what is this new content format, and does it have the potential to be more than a passing trend?

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a new way to create 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and other creative tools. 

Unlike stories, which are only viewable by your followers, reels can be shared with the wider Instagram community via the Explore feed. In their own words, reels “offer anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on the global stage”.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s almost an exact copy of TikTok.

It’s hard to ignore TikTok’s meteoric rise in the last couple of years.Having built upon the successful formula of the now-defunct Vine, which had 200 million users at its peak, TikTok has achieved 4 billion downloads and 800 million active users to date.

Why is TikTok so popular? It’s incredibly simple to use. Videos start playing the moment you open the app, and it’s innovative algorithm learns your preferences and drip-feeds you content accordingly. It’s no wonder users spend an average of 52 minutes a day within the app, increasing to 80 minutes for those aged 4 -15. But don’t be fooled into thinking TikTok is only for children. 42% of its audience are aged 18-24, making it an excellent platform to target Generation Z, from a marketing perspective.

So it’s clear why Instagram are attempting to replicate the TikTok experience with Reels. Their iteration comes at a time when Chinese-owned TikTok is being banned in India and potentially the US – the app’s two largest markets. Instagram intends to capture these markets from TikTok in the same way IG Stories captured Snapchat’s audience. The success of IG Stories is there for all to see – 500 million people use the feature every day, compared to 238 million Snapchat users. Will the same happen for Reels?

How is Instagram Reels performing?

It’s been a mixed reaction to Reels so far. Many users feel like it’s been ‘tacked-on’, hidden within the Stories interface:

In defence of Instagram, they’ve just added a new tab to user’s profiles:

And there are rumours of Reels replacing the Search button in the UI (with Search being moved to the top right) to make it more prominent:

In terms of performance metrics, it’s hard to judge at this early stage. In our opinion, it’s performing moderately well. Instagram are keenly pushing Reels in the Explore tab, like so:

We’ve also been seeing many influencers using Reels, as it provides a new way to provide content to an existing audience. Such videos have been generating vast amounts of organic reach, but there are some caveats. Firstly, most of these ‘Reels’ are simply re-uploads of TikTok videos. Secondly, this strong performance could easily be Instagram’s algorithm favouring Reels over other formats to improve its usage during this make-or-break period. Facebook have been notoriously decreasing the organic reach of posts on their apps to encourage the use of paid advertising. Expect this to happen to Reels once adoption has become widespread.

Does Reels have marketing potential?

Any type of content that could keep users engaged with your brand is worth adopting. Its emphasis on audio means musicians and labels are in the best position to use Reels. Food & Drink and Fashion brands can also get creative with the format, as these topics are already popular on TikTok.

If your business already incorporates TikTok into its communications strategy, then Reels should be the natural next step. There aren’t any ads running within Reels yet, but we expect they’ll be similar to stories, presentation-wise. Short, snappy videos will be the key to capturing your audience’s attention.

In the short-term, experiment with Reels in your organic posts.Your reach will improve tremendously if even one video becomes ‘featured’. Uploading your TikToks, or adapting your older 15-second videos to the format could involve your brand in the early ‘hype’ of Instagram Reels.

It’s too soon to say whether Reels will be a runaway success like Instagram Stories. Facebook’s previous attempt at emulating this format, Lasso, shut down on 10th July after only 18 months and 80,000 active users. While it’s safe to say that Reels won’t drop to this level, after the initial excitement has died down, will audiences abandon it for TikTok? Only time will tell.

What’s Next for Music Venues?

We have reached a point in the pandemic where most non-essential businesses have resumed operations. Shops, bars and restaurants are all welcoming customers once again – but what about nightclubs and live music venues?

It’s a question on many people’s minds, including our own. Here, we look at the latest government information and make some predictions on how live events could operate moving forward.

Latest Government Information

Boris Johnson has just announced that live indoor performances will resume from Saturday, having been delayed from 1st August. To the frustration of many, little information regarding nightclubs has been provided.

The announcement is certainly a step forward. But for most grassroots venues its still not financially viable to open with social distancing measures in place. Even with VAT being slashed from 20% to 5% for all hospitality businesses, including clubs and venues, it’s not enough to recoup the losses induced by months of closed doors. We’ve seen initiatives such as ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ launched by the chancellor to boost struggling bars & restaurants, but little for music venues. 

Back in early July, the Government announced a £1.57 billion rescue package for arts & cultural institutions. While it’s a step in the right direction, much of this comes in the form of loans, not grants. Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas and heritage sites, all need to share this in addition to music venues. It’s simply not enough. 

The live events industry, which contributes billions to the UK economy and employs up to 1 million people, needs more support. Social campaigns including #SaveOurScene, #LetTheMusicPlay and most recently #WeMakeEvents have sought to highlight the issue. For more information on what you can do to help, click here.

Based on existing government guidelines, here are some predictions on what future live events could include:

1. Outdoor events will be actively encouraged

Scientists strongly believe that there is a lower chance of transmitting the virus in outdoor environments. The government has already made it easier for businesses to trade outside, as we discussed in our ‘4th July’ blog piece. This is fine for bars & restaurants who can spread out onto pavements and car parks, but it’s simply not practical for large crowds.

Some venues do have ample outdoor space to hold a concert, but for others it may need to hire or collaborate with another venue. The UK’s first socially-distanced music venue has just opened in Gosforth Park, Newcastle. The Virgin Money Unity Arena spreads 2,500 fans across 500 spaced-out platforms:

This isn’t the only event that’s had to adapt. We are currently working with Greenwich Comedy Festival, who have moved their 2020 edition to the lawns of Greenwich Maritime Museum. A carefully spaced outdoor seating arrangement has replaced the Big Tops of previous years.

The entire live events industry will need to be more flexible and creative about how they stage shows. Realistically, we know going outdoors isn’t practical for a number of venues, or for fans. The unpredictability of English weather is a factor, as is the complexity of acquiring a license to hold an outdoor event.

2. Seating-only events

Many life-long music fans will argue that sitting down at a concert detracts from the experience and atmosphere. Unfortunately, seated concerts will become the standard, at least from a short-term perspective.

With seating it’s a lot easier to maintain social distancing, as opposed to a crowd of people who are free to move around. Cinemas are operating with an empty seat in-between each visitor, or by clustering households together. If your venue has seating installed already, this is mostly likely the model you’ll have to follow.

The concept of ‘social bubbles’ has been used a lot in government’s rhetoric during the pandemic. This has practical applications in seating arrangements. Greenwich Comedy Festival are only selling tickets in pairs. Their proposed seating area is divided into ‘blocks’, along with staggered arrival times:

The audience area at Greenwich Comedy Festival has been split into four completely separate blocks – each with their own colour code, entrance & exit points, toilet & hygiene facilities & dedicated PPE-adorned staff.

Of course, the main challenge all types of business are facing is that social distancing measures reduce overall capacity. 100 standing fans take up far less space than 100 seated, socially-distanced fans. Nevertheless, customer safety must take priority over profits until the virus has been defeated. Large crowds of dancing fans can only return once social distancing measures have been removed.

3. Advance tickets will play a huge role

The idea of spontaneously attending a gig could be over in the age of Covid-19. Advance tickets provide a chance to collect customer information. This is mandatory to aid with local contact tracing efforts.

Pre-booking should be actively encouraged regardless of the pandemic, as it allows you to gauge attendance numbers and adapt your marketing efforts accordingly. But now it’s more important than ever.

For nightclubs in particular, staggered arrival times could go hand-in-hand with advance tickets. Many club events already offer tiered tickets that have varying entry times. but this may become more commonplace for all types of events. Staggered arrival times reduce queuing times and allow you to better control the flow of fans in and out of your venue.

We understand that many nights out aren’t meticulously planned out beforehand. The best way to still allow on-the-door tickets would be to implement a scannable QR code that takes fans straight to a contact information form. No one wants to extra hurdles for potential customers, but venues have few other options until the rules around contact tracing relax.

Concluding words

In many ways, it’s too early to make any serious assumptions about what the future of music venues looks like. While this is partly due to the government’s emphasis on other parts of the economy, it’s mainly because hospitality is intrinsically linked to close-quarters social interaction. The audience plays a huge role in creating the experience that fills venues in the first place.

What venue owners, artists and fans can all agree on is that no one likes an empty club.

Back to Business

Throughout the pandemic the E1MA team have been busy helping our clients adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Now as restrictions continue to ease, we’re doing everything we can to ensure our clients get off a flying start as their doors re-open. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

Greenwich Comedy Festival

London’s leading comedy festival, Greenwich Comedy Festival sees over 30 top-tier comedians perform in front of thousands across 5 days and nights. From international-renowned acts to rising stars, all can be found at this boutique festival taking place in the heart of the city.

For this year’s instalment they’ve made a few changes to make the festival as safe and enjoyable as possible. This includes moving it to the lawns of Greenwich Maritime Museum. The open-air setting will feature a domed stage, socially-distanced seating and delicious food & drink purchasable via their app.

E1MA have been advising on and executing their social media marketing strategy. We constructed a social media timeline and populated it with a variety of posts, tailored for each platform. Maintaining close communication with the organisers, we carefully crafted copy that both reflects the comedy festival’s personality and drives sales.

This organic output has been supplemented with paid social. The E1MA team are creating and maintaining ad campaigns, making sure they are seen by the right audiences at the right time.


Platform is the UK’s #1 social gaming experience, located in the heart of London. Taking gaming to the next level, their unique space features classic games, delicious cocktails, and mouth-watering pizza. From eSports to bottomless brunch, anything goes at this fun-filled venue.

A total transformation has taken place at Platform, illustrated by their exciting new re-brand. The passionate team have worked hard to make sure visitors can get the full Platform experience in a safe manner. Separate gaming booths, table service, a venue flow system and regular cleaning are just a handful of the measures Platform have taken so everyone can #GameSafe.

We’ve been working with Platform on their digital media strategy, conveying their unique brand personality and driving bookings through carefully-crafted social media ads. These ads are continually monitored and maintained, highlighting their performance through regular reporting. E1MA also manage email campaigns for Platform – this omni-channel approach converts fans into customers.

Karma Cans

Starting off in a basement kitchen, Karma Cans has grown into full-fledged corporate catering service delivering over delicious, sustainable meals a day across London.

Community is an important part of Karma Cans’ ethos, and this year they’ve decided to host a summer-long pop-up restaurant at Hoxton Docks. The Karma Cans Rooftop Summer Series featuring several of their iconic dishes, set on a safe and welcoming rooftop overlooking the canal.

To ensure this got off to a flying start, we devised a social media competition that both created awareness and generated email sign-ups. E1MA then constructed mailers that provided more information on the venue and encouraged online bookings.

We ran a lead generation & brand awareness campaign alongside this. By creating lookalike audiences based on Karma Cans’ existing fans and focusing on the local area, we delivered ads to the right people. This resulted in a higher familiarity with the Karma Cans brand and ultimately, more bookings.

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