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Reels Update: What Schools Need to Know about Meta’s Subtle but Important Change

By March 24, 20235 min read

In case you missed it (#ICYMI), Meta made an update last week that impacted the way video content is posted and served to users. If you’re using Class Intercom to manage and streamline social media content for your school or school district, no need to worry–we’ve got you covered (more on that below). But there’s more you need to know about creating and publishing video content. Here, we’ve broken down what this development means for school PR professionals, educators, administrators, tech integrators, and others (including students and staff) using social media platforms to reach audiences across your school community.

What are Reels? 

A Reel is a piece of video content that lives in several places within Instagram as well as Facebook. First introduced in 2020, Reels are video clips and can be up to 90 seconds in length. They appear under the Reels icon within a user’s Instragram profile, as well as in the Reels feed, which users can access by tapping the second-to-right icon in the footer navigation of the Instagram app.

Reels also exist in Instagram’s video feed, which means they get served to people browsing video content. A number of factors make Reels useful for getting eyes on your content, including the following: First, they are served to users based on algorithms that predict what users are interested in viewing in order to provide them content they’re more likely to actually watch and engage with. Secondly, Reels have a swipe-up-style navigation interface, making it very easy to swipe from one video to the next. Reels also appear to Facebook users under the Watch tab on Facebook’s mobile and desktop interfaces. 

Why Reels Matter

Reels have incredible potential when it comes to growing your social followers and your online audience in general. In fact, Reels have a substantially higher opportunity to go viral because of the way they’re served up to users through the video feed algorithms. Indeed, over the last couple years, social platforms have increasingly shifted toward video. Instagram in particular has made many tweaks and evolutions to respond to the premium placed on video content by both content creators and followers.

In short, posting Reels can drastically increase engagement because they’re more likely to reach not only more followers, but also people who don’t follow your page. This creates huge opportunities for net new followers on your pages. 

Reels and video content in general can also do a number of other great things for your school and school-related pages. These kinds of informal video snippets present great opportunities to highlight students, staff, administrators, alumni, and even businesses within your school community. Videos also have the profound advantage of humanizing and personalizing your school and its students and staff within the broader community. Lastly, video content can be incredibly relatable in a way that prompts students, staff, and admins to share and engage with it.

What Changed this Week

This week, Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram) made a small but important change to the way Instagram in particular handles posted video content. Historically, when uploading a video, users had the option to choose whether it would appear as a reel or a post on your profile. Now, when you post a video to Instagram, it is automatically a Reel.

Why is this important? It means all video content now aggregates into the Reels video feeds for both Instagram and Facebook, giving it more opportunities to reach more people.

Three Key Takeaways for Schools & Districts 

1. If you’re using Class Intercom, you’re all set. 

We’re committed to evolving as social platforms change to ensure our users have what they need to stay on-trend. When students and/or staff use the Class Intercom platform to draft and schedule a video, the platform automatically detects that the post will be published as a Reel. You’ll notice the Reel icon over top of the video preview. As always, the platform supports a number of different preview ratios, including four-by-three, sixteen-by-nine, and one-by-one. We recommend posting Reels in a vertical or portrait format for the best engagement. 

2. Not all online audiences are created equal. 

The way content is displayed can impact the value of a page’s captive audience. On TikTok, for example, content is displayed so that just about anything can go viral. Stated another way, video content isn’t necessarily served up to existing followers; it’s served to users the algorithm thinks will spend time watching it. This inherently makes a massive TikTok following fundamentally less valuable than, say, an Instagram or Facebook following. 

3. Video presents huge opportunities to engage with your audience and community. 

Not only are the major social platforms increasingly positioned to favor video, but users increasingly prefer it. The rise of platforms like TikTok—and the regulatory decisions being made about them—will only further impact the emphasis on video content across social media platforms. While it can feel stressful for schools without video experience or equipment, these platforms don’t have to be intimidating. In fact, the informal nature of social media means that audiences don’t expect highly produced or high-budget edits on videos–even those that come from major brands. In short, social video content is incredibly accessible. 

What This Means

So, what does all this mean to schools and districts? It means a consistent and engaging video presence–even just a couple a month–can pay huge dividends for your social media presence. It can get your students and staff and the important work they’re doing in front of a broader audience, increase recognition and build goodwill overall, and help instill trust by presenting the names, faces, and real people behind your school.

Need a Hand?

Interested in better managing your school or districts social media pages and overall presence? Class Intercom can help. We work with schools and districts across the U.S. and all over the world to help them empower students and staff and capture and share the moments that matter most. In doing so, we’re able to help schools tell important stories that resonate with their communities, while at the same time building tomorrow’s digital citizens. Interested in learning more? Reach out!

Jess Doerr

Jess Doerr is the communications manager for Social Assurance and Class Intercom where she writes, develops, and oversees content. If she's not at the office, she's probably on her boat, on her bike, or in her garden.