Instagram just updated its algorithm again, and with this update comes a very obvious change.

Reels are now being displayed before any other post in the news feed, and this bodes very well for small businesses who’re struggling to grow their accounts but can’t afford paid ads.

Continue reading for why Reels are the way forward for small businesses on Instagram in 2022, and how you can capitalise on it.


What is the Instagram feed and how does it work?

The Instagram news feed is where users can see posts from the accounts that they’re following.

Up until 2016, Instagram news feeds were displayed in chronological order. This made it very hard for people (and businesses) to miss a post from any of the accounts that they were following.

During this period, Instagram was in what we like to call the ‘Growth’ phase of its life cycle. Lots of people were flocking to the app due to the popularity surrounding it, new features were constantly being added, and marketers and Businesses were beginning to take notice.

Product Life Cycle (Image by Economics Help www.economicshelp.org)

Then, Instagram entered the ‘Hype’ phase in 2016 and began shifting from a social space to a marketing space. This saw the introduction of ads and the switch from a chronological feed to an algorithm-defined feed, preferring to show you content that it thinks you’ll find relevant.

This meant that a lot of posts would go unseen, and businesses would need to fight harder to retain the attention of their audiences. Of course, this was the compelling reasoning for most larger businesses to adopt paid ad strategies to get back in front of their audiences. For smaller businesses, it might’ve been seen as too costly, and therefore simply accepting a smaller reach was mandatory… until very recently.


What’s changed?

With the explosive popularity of TikTok, Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) has had to find new ways of getting users back on their platforms.

After all, the more time you spend scrolling on their platform, the more money they make from advertisers. One of those ways was to create a copycat service of TikTok for their own platform on Instagram, Reels.

This isn’t anything new either, we’ve seen this before with:

  • Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter adopting Stories after the introduction of Snapchat.
  • Twitter introducing Spaces after the popularity of Clubhouse.
  • Facebook and Instagram introducing Facebook Watch and IGTV to combat YouTube, and so on.

However, the USP of TikTok is that it’s short-form videos are very addictive to spend hours watching, and the organic reach of those videos are unparalleled. So naturally, Instagram Reels needed to replicate the same formula and allow users who create Reels to reap the same benefits.

When combined with the fact that Instagram is now also pushing Reels to the front of everyone’s news feeds, it’s going to be harder for your audience to miss your Instagram posts (If you’re posting Reels).


Great! How can I make sure my business gets the most out of this?

Not everyone is going to viral with Instagram Reels, and you shouldn’t just be posting Reels, but you should utilise the following tips when adopting Reels into your Instagram strategy to reach more people:

  • Ensure that you’re aware of your peak activity hours and that you’re aligning your posts with them.
  • Capitalise on the latest trending sounds and music.
  • Have a clear message and provide real value to your audience.
  • Don’t overdo it on the editing (but definitely don’t leave it out altogether).

And probably the most important tip, don’t upload just any old video as a Reel. There’s a certain formula which needs to be followed. Now this doesn’t mean that you should start practicing your next dance routine, but you should definitely check out what the competition are doing.


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