Posting Instagram Reels should be a priority for brands eager to boost their presence. Below we explain the benefits of posting Reels and how to make...
Instagram Reels vs In-Feed Posts: Do They Have the Same Reach?
What’s the advantage of Instagram Reels vs Posts for more reach? This post tackles both types of content, when to publish them and how they're ranked by IG.
“Are Reels better than Posts on Instagram?”
Brands are scrambling for answers as the Instagram algorithm evolves yet again.
Given that Reels are the driving force behind time spent on Instagram in 2023, they're the go-to format for reach and engagement. This has sparked fierce debates among marketers, though:
What’s the best post format for brands? Should you post all Reels to your feed? How often?
We decided to get our hands dirty and get some concrete answers! In this post, we explain:
- What new research says about the reach of Instagram Reels vs Posts
- How the most recent Instagram algorithm ranks different types of content
- How to choose between Reels vs Posts based on Instagram’s best practices
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To kick things off, let’s break down the key differences between Reels and Posts.
The Basics of Instagram Reels and In-Feed Posts
What Are Reels?
Instagram Reels are essentially any video you post to the platform.
- Published as looping, vertical video clips up to 90 seconds long
Features include captions, creative editing tools and either original audio or audio clips from the Instagram music library
Reels can be created natively on Instagram or uploaded via third-party video apps
Any Instagram video you post will be shared as a Reel and shown in the suggestion algorithm. They can also show up in the Facebook newsfeed.
Reels are Instagram’s answer to the skits, challenges and viral videos of TikTok.
But Reels has gone from a “TikTok clone” to one of Instagram’s most popular features.
Food for thought: 20% of all Instagram activity took place on Reels last year. Anecdotally, we’re seeing way more Reels published to Instagram over Static Posts right now.
This rings true for both creators and brands. Statusphere creators earned a combined 15,000,000+ plays via Reels last year which speaks for itself.
Most branded content published to Reels is unpolished, humorous and off-the-cuff. This explains why brands using Reels rely on creators to show off their products in action. The authentic, unfiltered nature of Reels makes the format ideal for product showcases.
Compared to In-Feed Posts, Reel’s laid-back vibe gives you an opportunity to flaunt your creativity. You’re also able to create content that doesn’t require extensive planning and flawless execution. As an added bonus, the creative tools built into Reels can really make your clips pop.
What Are In-Feed Posts?
Instagram Posts are static images and Carousels published to your Feed.
Posts can be published on their own or combined to create a Carousel (slideshow)
In short, Posts are any content not published to Instagram Stories, Reels or Live
Anything published as a Post will show up on your Instagram grid
In-Feed Posts are your “traditional” pieces of Instagram content.
And despite not being shiny and new, Posts aren’t going anywhere for brands or creators.
Food for thought: an overwhelming 75% of brand posts on Instagram are single images.
This highlights the importance of creating content people won’t just scroll past. Also, this is where your filters, colors and creative trademarks come into play.
The prevalence of single-image posts signals that traditional content still works. In-Feed Posts like photos and Carousels drive engagement by encouraging followers to tap through and see more.
Carousels are particularly popular right now with brand accounts. They’re the perfect way to show off your polished product photos from multiple angles.
In-Feed Posts provide a space to flex your creativity and show off products on your own terms. These “hand-picked” posts are what give your Instagram grid aesthetic appeal.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Reels vs Posts, let’s be upfront: both types of content are valuable. It’s possible to earn reach with both! But they’re not treated equally by the IG algorithm.
Instagram Reels vs In-Feed Posts: What We Know About Reach
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to answer which type of content is “best.”
But let’s start by digging into what we know about reach from Instagram itself.
If thinking about the Instagram algorithm gives you a headache, we get it. The platform’s constant changes often hurt brand accounts the most. Instagram isn’t exactly forthcoming about how reach actually works, either.
That’s why it was so surprising when Instagram provided a detailed breakdown of how they rank content in May 2023.
The key takeaway? Instagram doesn’t prioritize the exact same ranking factors for Reels vs Posts. There are two separate “algorithms” for determining reach.
How the Instagram Algorithm Ranks Reels vs Posts
While the inner workings of the algorithm might feel like a big secret, the ranking factors related to Instagram reach aren’t anymore.
Instagram serves content based on factors related to your account activity and interactions. This applies to accounts you follow and people that follow you.
Below is a simplified breakdown of how Instagram ranks Reels. Keep in mind that these aren’t the only variables involved in whether your followers see your Reel or Post.
How Instagram Reels Are Ranked
- Your activity. Consistently publishing content is key here. Beyond that, this is where your Instagram engagement strategy comes into play. For example, are you frequently responding to comments? “Liking” content? Going back and forth with your followers and other brands? Doing so makes you part of their interactions.
- Your interaction history. The more people interact with you, the better. Mentions, tags, “Likes” and comments all matter here. This is also a great example of how getting creators talking about your brand can result in more eyes on your content.
- Information about the post. This includes your video description, captions, hashtags and audio. Much of the “information” about your post is determined via Instagram’s advanced AI that assesses what your content is.
- Information about the author. Instagram basically attempts to gauge whether viewers will be interested in your content. This is where all of the factors above come together.
The popularity of Reels is clear. Accounts of all shapes and sizes should be engaging with other Reels. Doing so increases your likelihood of getting served to your target audience.
Remember what we said about 20% of all activity being related to Reels content? The format is the place to be for discovery and boosting brand awareness.
What about Posts, though? The ranking of In-Feed content is determined by the same factors as Reels but prioritized in a different order.
How Instagram Posts Are Ranked
- Your activity. Posts your audience have liked, shared or commented on are more likely to be boosted in their feed. It's just as important to engage with followers via comments on In-Feed photos as it is through Reels.
- Information about the post. This includes a combination of information about a post's popularity (i.e. how quickly a post is being liked, shared and commented on and by how many people) as well as things like when it was posted and what location, if any, was tagged.
- Information about the author. If you're frequently going back and forth with your audience, you're on the right track. Instagram tries to gauge the likelihood that users will be interested in your post based on how frequently they interact with your account.
- Your interaction history. To reiterate, Instagram post rankings are based heavily on the types of posts users have engaged with in the past.
The takeaway? Both algorithms prioritize activity first. However, Reels are served primarily based on engagement. For In-Feed Posts, relevance favors “information” about your profile and post.
Are Reels Better Than Posts? What the Data Says
Of course, Instagram will only go so far as to explain how its algorithm works.
And so the battle of Reels vs Posts has driven many marketing experts to do their own homework.
Below are a few recent studies, surveys and stories to shed light on the debate.
Reels Are Technically the Most Engaging Type of IG Content
Not surprising. Here’s the scoop:
- Recent research by Rival IQ notes that Reels have officially become the most engaging post type, knocking Carousels out of the lead.
- Data from Sprout Social also reveals that Reels see a whopping 14% reach rate, while other types of posts only see 9% and 10%.
- Another third-party report via HypeAuditor asserts that Reels earn the most likes compared to Stories, static posts and Carousels.
This data mirrors a popular report by Social Insider that found Reels have an average 20.59% engagement rate per post, far exceeding other types of media like photos and Carousels.
All of the numbers above are telling when it comes to the rise of short-form video.
Short-Form Video is In-Demand (But Images Aren’t Far Behind)
So, is it better to post Instagram Reels or In-Feed photos?
Between TikTok and Reels, it’s no secret that short-form video is taking over social media.
The numbers say that brief and bite-sized videos are the way to go for brands.
Short-form video content is the most in-demand type of social content according to the recent Sprout Social Index. Consumers can’t get enough of it. Meanwhile, marketers cite short-form video as the most-effective marketing trend with the highest ROI.
Source: Sprout Social
Thing is, images are just behind short-form video (61% vs 66%) in the report above. Perhaps what’s more notable is the fact that long-form video posts lag far behind at 24%.
This data doesn’t highlight as distinct of an advantage of Reels or Feed Posts, though. Instead, this is yet another example of why your content strategy should incorporate multiple formats.
Instagram Creators Are Crushing It With Reels and Photos
Again, we’ve seen both brands and creators in our network ramp up their Reels lately.
Kal grew her Reels viewership from 0 to 45,000 views per video within ten months. All organically, no ads involved. According to Kal herself, 75% of people that discover her profile come from Reels. Her consistency and authenticity were rewarded with reach and she’s kept up the momentum since.
That said, Reels aren’t the only way to blow up on Instagram. Some creators are seeing more engagement from In-Feed Posts (see below).
What about brands? Both types of content can earn reach depending on your industry and audience.
For example, about-face beauty boasts 356,000 followers and posts Reels almost every other day. On the flip side, outdoor brand Nalgene primarily publishes In-Feed posts, with only the occasional Reel. Their 112,000 followers (and 100,000+ tagged Instagram photos) are nothing to scoff at.
"How Often Should I Publish Reels? Should I Post Reels to My Feed?"
Good questions! There is no one-size-fits-all frequency but here’s our take:
- If you’re publishing seven days a week, a balance between three (3) Reels and four (4) In-Feed Posts is fair game. You can also flip this frequency if you notice that Reels are outperforming posts on your grid.
- If you only post on weekdays, a split between two (2) Reels and three (3) In-Feed Posts is a good starting point.
- There's no compelling argument to not post Reels to Feed unless you're set on maintaining a very specific aesthetic for your Instagram feed.
The reality, though? Answering the question of “Reel or Post?” really comes down to your own analytics. If you find that a certain format earns more reach or engagement, stick with it. You can also experiment with adapting your Reels ideas into Carousels and vice-versa.
With an influencer platform like Statusphere, you can keep a constant pulse on all of your influencer content's performance within your brand's dashboard. This lets you know at a glance which formats make the most sense for your creators and target audience.
When to Post Reels
Reels are perfect for showing off your brand's creativity and personality through unpolished content. Some ideas for types of videos include:
- How-tos, tutorials and educational content featuring products in action
- Off-the-cuff videos centered around trending sounds, skits and challenges
- Announcements and behind-the-scenes videos hyping up your brand
Use the format to provide an up-close and personal presentation of your products. Doing so will make it easier for people to imagine what you’re selling in their hands.
When to Post to Your Feed
In-Feed Posts are ideal for your pre-planned, polished content. This includes:
- Showing off snapshots from professional photoshoots and promotions
- High-quality photos and UGC with multiple angles of your product
- Posts where you want to drive discussion and back-and-forth with your audience
Your Instagram feed is an opportunity to cultivate your brand’s aesthetic. This gives new visitors to your profile a better understanding of who you are and why you deserve their attention. For example, Dr. Jart primarily publishes In-Feed Posts and Carousels that result in a striking Instagram grid.
How to Earn More Reach for Instagram Reels and Posts with Creators
To answer whether reach is the same between Reels vs Posts, the consensus is no.
According to Instagram themselves, they aren’t ranked the same.
But so much of your IG reach depends on your resources, content strategy and target audience. When in doubt, look at your analytics to see what’s actually working for you. It pays to experiment!
No matter what type of content you post, a high volume of creator content can scale your Instagram engagement strategy faster. Creator accounts drive those all-important interactions brands need.
Ensuring your creator partnerships are reaching their full potential is key to earning more reach. If you need help scaling your creator presence on Instagram, Statusphere can help.
Our micro-influencer marketing platform matches brands with creators from our vetted influencer community using 250+ unique, first-party data points. Statusphere streamlines creator partnerships with advanced matchmaking, fulfillment tech and automated reporting.
We've already helped 400+ brands generate 75,000+ pieces of authentic creator content.
Want to see how our platform works? Get in touch with one of our influencer marketing experts to see how we can grow your Instagram presence with guaranteed content at scale.
This article was first published in February 2021. It was last updated July 7, 2023