Instagram reels recently launched Ads on its platform in 25 countries across the Sub-Saharan Africa region. This follows a significant rise in the popularity of reels and other short video formats as a boost for businesses in Africa. In an attempt to uncover the relevance of such short video advertising to SMEs in the continent, we engaged Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, the Strategic Media Partnerships Manager for Africa at Facebook. She speaks to how social media is enabling SMEs in Africa
Q. Instagram and Twitter both started as ads-free social networks. Where did the urge to incorporate small video ads come from?
A. In August 2020, we launched Instagram Reels: a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram. People are already coming to Instagram and Reels to discover and follow new interests and businesses they may never have otherwise come across. As we continue to build and improve the Reels experience, we felt that Reels Ads was a natural way for businesses to advertise on Reels – where people may expect to see ads.
Q. What opportunity does such ads offer for SMEs across the continent? Is social media an enabler for SMEs growth in Africa?
A. Reels Ads will enable SMB’s advertise their businesses to a wider audience than those that already follow them.
Q. What is the projected future of such marketing (short video ads like Reels)? These videos have been in a steady growth trajectory, now scaled to about 25 African countries. What is its value-proposition for SMEs or just business in general?
A. According to this recent study done by Genesis and Facebook, it was found that social media platforms are powerful catalysts in the formation and growth of new SMBs in the world today. A wider pool of audience reached means an increased customer base. With more people using social media coupled with the increasing use of short videos e.g. Reels, there’s potential for growth in Africa as there’s evidence that SMBs who use digital tools are helping to unlock the three opportunities in:
a. youth empowerment – Africa has a large young population which provides the opportunity to reap a massive “demographic dividend” when a young workforce is driving economic growth. SMEs/SMBs can tap into this and target ads to the growing popularity of short videos. Surveys show that more female-owned SMBs use Facebook apps and as a result have higher annual revenues, and are more optimistic about future ones than non-users.
b. gender equity – bringing more women into more formal and equitable economic activities means the energy, ideas, labour, and creativity of the whole population can be employed.
c. diversification and trade – digital tools are a powerful enabler of economic diversification and increased levels of trade.
Q. The recent past has seen massive commercialisation of what was meant to be free social media platforms. How has this (or how will it) water down the original mission for socialising?
A. At Instagram, we put people and their experiences first. We’ll monitor feedback from consumers and advertisers closely to ensure the best experience. We are focused on helping people discover businesses of all sizes on Instagram, and Reels is a great place to deepen these connections.
Q. What does the shift to short videos tell about the new social media trends moving forward?
A. The shift to short videos is exciting as we see people becoming creative in their content development. After the launch of Reels and Reel ads we are excited to launch other fun, attractive, and useful product features for Instagram users.
Q. What is the end game of socials commercialization.
A. Social media has become an integral part of doing business and we at Instagram aim to support this growth but at the same time closely monitoring sentiment from consumers and advertisers. We are focused on helping people discover businesses of all sizes on Instagram, and Reels is a great place to deepen these connections.