Emplifi Blog: 5 Brands Beating the Instagram Reels Algorithm

Evelyn Taylor — Community Manager, Emplifi

5 brands beating the Instagram Reels algorithm

Instagram debuted its short-video format, Instagram Reels, in 2019 amidst the soaring popularity of TikTok. Creators can make videos up to 60 seconds long and edit them to add eye-catching effects, stickers, and filters. This popular feature offers brands a golden marketing opportunity because, unlike other Instagram content, Reels are much more frequently surfaced as suggested content to users beyond your actual followers.  

To inspire your Instagram Reels strategy, we’ve curated five examples of brands that take full advantage of the feature and maximize the reach of their social content.

5 brands that get Instagram Reels right

1. Yakima

Car rack brand Yakima has an Instagram following of more than 90 thousand users, which is a testament to its highly effective social strategy. The brand’s social team posts diverse, sports-related content like rock climbing, racing, and fly fishing to appeal to a variety of audiences while showcasing how everyday athletes and adventurers use the brand’s products.

Yakima’s focus on sports and the outdoors provides excellent opportunities to share visually striking user-generated content (UGC) from professional athletes and everyday people worldwide. Because Yakima shares such diverse content beyond product placements, everyday users and influencers alike are able to connect with and share their own related Reels content.

Many of Yakima’s Reels, like this hiking video from outdoor sports influencer @chasing.sage, receive thousands of views. Resharing this type of exciting and aesthetically-pleasing content keeps users’ attention and makes them want to see more. It also creates a bridge that encourages the influencer’s established following to visit Yakima’s Instagram.

Yakima’s marketing team uses the branded hashtag #yakimaracks to promote content creation by customers and to make it easy for viewers to find more exciting content from the brand. With Pixlee TurnTo (an Emplifi Company), Yakima is able to instantly collect, curate, and republish UGC discovered by hashtag, account mention, and more.

Key takeaways

  1. Consider areas of interest that are adjacent to your brand’s products and have a large following. Yakima is a car rack company, not an athletic company, but it makes sense for them to feature sports because doing those requires the right equipment.

  2. Use branded hashtags on your Reels to promote your content and make it simple for viewers to see your other videos. 

2. Puma

Puma’s Reels feature a mix of influencer posts, like Dua Lipa modeling a new clothing collection and brand-created product announcements that are unique and aesthetically pleasing. The key to creating branded Reels that people actually want to watch is ensuring the content’s style aligns with UGC shared by everyday Instagram users. It’s essentially a native ad disguised as an Instagram Reel, but it doesn’t stick out or feel sales-y. 

In addition to selecting impactful influencers and creating sleek product-focused Reels, Puma also maintains a portfolio of Instagram accounts that highlight different aspects of the brand. Each niche account, like @pumarunning and @pumasportstyle, features Reels that are tailored to those topics. This is a great social strategy for larger brands, as breaking your target audience into different groups based on interests can foster a stronger connection and greater brand affinity.

Having multiple accounts enables the brand to drill down into specific topics its followers care about. For example, the Puma’s running profile has Reels like “3 tips to survive trail running” and sneak peeks of new running shoe designs. Puma’s marketing team makes sure to co-post Reels with influencers and across the brand’s portfolio of niche accounts. This ensures maximum viewership and is mutually beneficial for all accounts. 

Key takeaways

  1. If you’re a large brand, consider creating multiple Instagram profiles to highlight all aspects of your brand, and share your Reels across all accounts.

  2. Any brand-created Reels you post should perfectly fit the aesthetic of the UGC your customers share and interact with. 

3. Delta

Delta often creates interactive Reels based on trends, asking users to answer questions and engage with the video. In this reel, the brand used a clip of an idyllic beach sunset and asked viewers, “If you could squeeze in one more trip before the end of the year, where would you go?” It has over 90,000 views and 700 comments, which shows how effective Reels can be as a conversation tool.

The airline also regularly shares dazzling videos of destinations worldwide from customers, influencers, and crew members to inspire future travelers. UGC that shows authentic, stunning travel content — created by people like the viewer — is a fantastic way to motivate people to start planning a trip. Weaving this diverse community content into the branded content it shares, Delta consistently shares fresh, authentic posts across its Instagram profile.

Another Reels tactic that Delta does well is reusing Tweets overlaid on videos to maximize cross-channel content exposure. Adapting content from other social platforms makes marketing dollars stretch further because the team isn’t always creating content from scratch. 

Key takeaways

  1. Get interactive. Use Instagram Reels to ask your community questions, promote UGC, and get people engaged.

  2. Reuse content from your other social platforms. Overlay Tweets on video as Delta does, or take a YouTube video from your channel and edit it down to a short, compelling reel.

4. Mapiful

Mapiful, a company dedicated to helping customers preserve special memories with custom maps and prints, features UGC in Reels to show customer love for the brand. These Reels showcase Mapiful’s products in customers’ homes, making it easy for viewers to imagine how it would look in their homes. 

Mapiful’s Reels are fantastic at evoking emotion and a human connection because they highlight the sentimental stories behind why a customer chose a map of a specific street or constellation. The videos are personal, and viewers feel strongly connected to them and the brand.

The company also uses Reels to post tutorials and inspiration for home decor enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Like Yakima, Mapiful taps into a larger industry related to its products rather than siloing Instagram content to focus only on products. This educational content also provides value to viewers by giving them the skills they need to design a home they love. When it comes time to purchase prints for their home decor, Mapiful will be top of mind for them.  

Key takeaways

  1. Get in touch with your emotions. Sharing content that evokes emotion in viewers is a great way to create strong connections.

  2. Share UGC Reels that show your products in context to help viewers understand how it might work for them.

  3. Educate your viewers with tutorials on topics in your industry. 

5. Alo Yoga

Alo Yoga is a popular brand for yoga apparel and accessories. The brand’s strategy for Instagram Reels is largely focused on influencer and brand ambassador content from fitness- and health-focused creators. The videos are an effective tool because they spotlight products in action rather than on a static model, which helps viewers contextualize potential purchases. 

While the main focus is on influencer content, the brand also creates Reels for social media contests and giveaways. These generate a lot of comments and shares, and it’s a great way to get new followers. 

When Alo Yoga posts Reels that contain products, they always tag them. This enables viewers to easily purchase the clothing they see in the video while the influential content is still fresh in their minds. Product tags also generate new website traffic. Once viewers land on your site, they’re more likely to see additional must-have products.

One way to take the value of your brand Instagram Reels a step further is to publish Reels content on your eCommerce website. Pixlee TurnTo allows brands to create and automatically publish their Reels content in on-site galleries, connecting their marketing avenues on the foundation of social commerce.

Key takeaways

  1. Tag products in your Reels to encourage viewers to buy and send more traffic to your website.

  2. Create Reels around social media contests and giveaways to stir up interest and engagement. 

  3. Share Reels that put your product into context in a dynamic way.

It’s your brand’s turn to rock Reels

There’s no one industry dominating Instagram Reels, which means there’s plenty of room in this space for your brand. Thanks to the Reels algorithm, companies large and small can create content that drives views, followers, and sales. Check out our guide on the best time to post Instagram Reels to learn more about the algorithm.

To get the most out of Reels, weave different types of content — both brand-created and community-led — together in your Reels strategy and adapt some of the strategies these five top brands use to generate massive engagement.

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