Influencers say Instagram Reels is fueling growth and new followers

Amanda Perelli
·5 min read
instagram reels influencer growth 4x3
Instagram; Samantha Lee/Insider

Hi, this is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Insider Influencers, our weekly rundown on the influencer and creator economy. Sign up for the newsletter here.

When Instagram first came out with a TikTok copycat feature, it got mixed reviews, with some calling Reels a "dud."

Creators weren't exactly going wild for the short-form video feature.

But since posting Reels regularly, many creators have said the feature has become a secret weapon to supercharge their growth and engagement.

This has become an enormous incentive for creators to continue using the feature and shows how much Instagram is prioritizing it.

My colleague Sydney Bradley spoke with creators who explained how Reels has bolstered growth on Instagram:

  • Influencer Lissette Calveiro said her following increased by 3.6% and her total reach increased by 555% within a month of posting Reels.

  • Being active on both TikTok and Instagram has been a key strategy for creators to grow, industry insiders said.

  • Lifestyle influencer Chandler DeHart said the ratio of followers that a really good Reel video will generate, as opposed to a regular static post, was "three to four times the amount."

"When I started going more viral and having my Reels get picked up, I started growing a couple hundred and I was like, 'Oh, this is cool. I'm finally growing again,'" said influencer Christine Tran Ferguson.

Read the full post on Instagram Reels here.

Startups bet on text messaging as a way for influencers to reach fans and make money

text marketing rise 2021 4x3
Samantha Lee/Insider

Many influencers are starting to use text messaging to interact with fans and earn money.

My colleague Dan Whateley wrote about the new text messaging startups that have emerged to help build out this market.

Executives in the text-marketing industry broke down why creators are blasting out texts:

  • Companies like Cameo, PearPop, Substack, and OnlyFans allow creators to connect with users more intimately.

  • Texting is another extension of this trend, which has driven sales for influencers and media brands.

  • TikTok creator Addison Rae Easterling uses the startup Community to send automated messages to her followers. Other startups in the space are Subtext, SimpleTexting, and Chatitive.

AwesomenessTV used text marketing to promote the release of its recent influencer-focused reality show and was impressed by the results.

"It definitely allowed me and my team to pivot in real time in terms of how we were talking to our audience as well," an AwesomenessTV exec said.

Read more on text marketing here.

Startups have begun helping newsletters find advertisers

Jake Singer
Jake Singer, the cofounder of Swapstack, sees the startup as responding to an unmet customer need. Jake Singer

Substack is a famously ad-free newsletter platform, but some of its top writers have begun to incorporate advertising into their newsletters.

Substack makes money off of subscriptions, but some startups have sprung up to help small newsletters sell ads. They include Swapstack, Upstart.me, and Letterwell.

"Our goal is just to make it easy for people to do something that they are already doing," Swapstack cofounder Jake Singer said.

But the rise of ads in Substack newsletters could become a problem for the company, my colleague Mark Stenberg wrote.

Read more on the startups helping monetize newsletters here.

Instagram's lead, Adam Mosseri, is "not yet happy" with Reels

Adam Mosseri Instagram Next
Adam Mosseri celebrates Instagram's 10th anniversary. Instagram

Instagram's lead, Adam Mosseri, is "not yet happy" with Reels.

Sydney wrote that Mosseri discussed Reels, TikTok, and how creators could make money on Instagram on a recent podcast.

Here are some key takeaways and a look at what 2021 has in store for creators:

  • Mosseri said TikTok was ahead of Instagram with filters and augmented-reality effects.

  • The three main ways to monetize on Instagram are: commerce, "user-pay" products, and revenue share.

  • Commerce is how the majority of career content creators earn a living through Instagram today, but the company wants to expand other avenues of making money.

Read more on what 2021 has in store for creators on Instagram.

More creator industry coverage from Insider:

This week from Insider's digital culture team:

gab qanon quote tweet
This illustration picture shows social media application logo from Gab displayed on a smart phone with its website in the background in Arlington, Virginia on January 11, 2021. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Gab, the social-media platform booming on the far-right, has posted direct QAnon quotes on Twitter

Gab, a social-media platform that's similar to Facebook, has become popular on the far-right.

Insider reporter Rachel E. Greenspan wrote that the company recently quoted a message from QAnon, a baseless far-right conspiracy theory, on its Twitter page.

"DARK TO LIGHT. BLACKOUT NECESSARY," Gab said in the tweet, which has become a popular QAnon phrase.

Gab has become the platform of choice for QAnon followers, as the movement has been widely banned from mainstream platforms.

Read the full story here.

More on digital culture:

TikTok logo
FILE PHOTO: The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's U.S. head office in Culver City, California, U.S., Sept. 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Here's what else we're reading:

Thanks for reading! Send me your tips, comments, or questions: aperelli@businessinsider.com

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