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Meta’s Subtle but Important Update to Reels: What Governments Need to Know

By March 24, 20235 min read

Meta made an update last week that impacted the way video content is posted and served to users. If you’re using Social Assurance to manage content workflows and publish directly to social channels, no need to worry–we’ve got you covered (more on that below). Here, we’ve broken down what this development means for social media and communications teams using these platforms to reach their communities.

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 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.


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A post shared by Boise Fire Dept. (@boisefire)

Reels also exist in Instagram’s video feed, which means they get served up 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 to provide them content they’re more likely to 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.

Why Reels Matter

Reels have incredible potential when it comes to growing social followers and online audiences in general. “What’s especially interesting about Reels,” says Social Assurance’s Founder and CEO Ben Pankonin, “is that they have a substantially higher opportunity to go viral because of the way they’re served up to users through the video feed algorithms. We’ve seen a shift happening over the last couple years where, Instagram especially, favors video content,” he adds, noting that the platform has made many tweaks and evolutions over that time 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 do a number of other great things for your business, like humanizing and personalizing your organization and the work your teams do to establish trust within your community.


What Changed this Week

This week, Meta (the company behind Facebook and Instagram) made a small but important change to the way Instagram in particular handles posted video content. Historically, when uploading a video, you 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 Governments

1. If you’re using Social Assurance, you’re all set.

We’re committed to evolving as social platforms change to ensure our users–who must use these channels in an efficient and archived–have what they need to stay on trend. When you publish a video through the platform, it automatically detects that it 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. Video presents huge opportunities to engage with your 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 teams without video experience, 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 offices and entities. In short, social video content is incredibly accessible.

3. 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.

What This Means

So, what does all this mean to governments? It means a consistent and engaging video presence–even just a couple video posts a month–can pay huge dividends for your social media presence. It can get the work you do in front of a broader audience, increase positive sentiment, and help instill trust by presenting the names, faces, and real people who serve your community every day.

Need a Hand?

Interested in ramping up your organization’s social media presence? Social Assurance can help. We work with governments and other organizations in regulated industries and sectors like banking, financial services, and education to streamline social media management in a way that increases access to authentic content while increasing controls, approvals, and oversight.

Interested in learning more about how Social Assurance can help your organization? Contact us directly at or using the link below.


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