How to Create Engaging Instagram Content: Case Study: Thread + Spoke Reels

Lead generation, digital marketing strategy, social media marketing, marketing trends, SEO, Website UX design, Utah marketing company, eCommerce website design, Instagram reels, best call-to-action,

Learn how Thread + Spoke and Drive Digital developed and implemented a state-of-the-art social media marketing strategy built on algorithmic models to enhance their social media presence and digital brand exposure. 

Customer profile

Thread + Spoke is a cycling brand and creative community of like-minded bike enthusiasts based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The T + S mission is to bring one-of-a-kind t-shirts and accessories to riders across the world. 

Thread + Spoke sells a range of products, the most popular being high-quality men's, women's, and youth t-shirts at an average price point of $25. With so many proud cyclists, this niche market demographic of engaged customers will often do all in their power to make it known they are first and foremost avid cyclists, even off the bike.  

Key metrics: 

  • 2016: Opened online store 
  • 50000+: Orders shipped
  • $25 Average price per shirt  
  • 12.3k Instagram followers 

Since its 2017 inception, Thread + Spoke has captured some of the most exciting moments in cycling, brought to life in a display of unique t-shirt graphics made by a group of talented artists. Thread + Spoke is a primary example of modern social media, eCommerce, and on-demand printing success. With T + S, cycling micro-moments can quickly give birth to opportune selling opportunities for products and designs. 

Take the 2016 Tour de France, when rider Chris Froome was forced to abandon his bike and run up Mount Ventoux towards the finish line at the end of the 12th stage of the Tour De France. This unique moment in cycling history quickly gave birth to a best-selling Tour de France t-shirt Design called Mont Ventoux Running Club. 

Finding a digital marketing agency that works: 

In this day in age, eCommerce success sprouts from a competent ability to capture social media buzz and harness innovative digital marketing tools. A skilled digital marketing partner should understand how to transform social buzz and micro-moments that matter into leverageable profit. In our most recent application, the Drive Digital team developed a prosperous Instagram reel campaign for Thread + Spoke on how to install a hidden bike tracker on your bike.

So first off, what are Instagram Reels? 

IG reels are short-form videos of 30 or so seconds in length. This interactive feature was launched in August of 2020 in more than 50 countries worldwide. Its popularity, like Tik Tok, was such that it stirred app developers and other tech powerhouses to release a similar version of the interactive feature to capture audiences and compete with Instagram. 

Why use Instagram Reels?

Given its now widely accepted acclaim, you would be foolish to ignore this feature made to explode your reach and social presence. Time and time again, a relevant and engaging reel gains more likes, comments, and engagement than other forms of published social content. As they often do, Instagram and sister social platforms will push sponsored content further through new and flashy in-app features to increase their application, use, and popularity. It's a win-win no matter what way you look at it, so you might as well run with the algorithm than fight against it. 

In the case of the Thread & Spoke reel “How to keep your bike safe” we noticed the following uptick in key metrics post upload:

  • +5000% increase in av. # of new weekly followers 
  • +90% increase in av. reel views
  • +92% increase in av. comments

How to use reels? 

Pick a topic, question, or sought-after piece of content that will capture a viewer's attention. Like many touchpoints along the eCommerce customer journey, each comes with its own set of pain points. These pain points dictate the issues customers desire to resolve, so start there when brainstorming relevant content topics. Try to pick something that will generate discussion and snowball into something residual. You can create the reel video using native Instagram tools or using a pre-recorded clip from your camera roll. The most relevant reel features are exclusively available in-app, so we suggest using them. 

Tips for Reel Content Generation: 

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel but create something unique: Keep an eye on videos blowing influencers and other viral figures out of the water. Look to these people and brands as inspiration, duplicate the process, and add your unique flair. Explore how to leverage and replicate content that's gone viral on apps like Tik Tok and Youtube. Organically create new content from what you have established. Script out and plan your shots, angles, and copy so that you don't procrastinate the filming and editing, which is often the most time-consuming aspect of the process.
  2. Grab attention and keep it: Again, knowing your viewers are likely only going to give you a few seconds of their time directly influences the title and length of the video. As a general rule of thumb, keep the total length between 15 and 20 seconds if appropriate. It’s never a bad idea to start a reel with a question, statement, or entertaining facial expression. Viewers have the attention span of a goldfish nowadays, so make the first few seconds count. People will often click on reels based on their preview image -- a decisive tool in attracting viewership, so make it count. Create a custom cover image using Canva or on a similar application. If you don't choose one, Instagram will capture a screenshot and choose one for you. Once people are watching, transitions like an outfit change, scene change, or introduction of a prop retain the most engagement. Play around with different angles, stopping and starting the recording while repositioning yourself or the objects in the video. Visually speaking, there are an endless amount of tiny adjustments that can make a world of difference.  
  3. Music plays a crucial role in the popularity of content: The right song can make or break the content. Pay attention to trending songs because it might just take one to blow you up. Instrumental or music without lyrics never fails. Keep in mind that the sounds should complement and bring attention to the subject of the video.
  4. Add relevant and coherent value-based captions: Include a personal call-to-action (CTA) in your captions to generate more engagement and encourage viewers to act. Direct viewers to different reels, your website, products, or blog. The Instagram algorithm will track the uptick in engagement and push you to the front of the explore page.
  5. Quality in abundance: When it comes to social media, all it takes is one post to blow up. That said, more content = greater reach, which increases your chances of the algorithm picking your reel up. Batch and prepare timely content with enough time in advance to make for seamless delivery. 

What is next? 

While Instagram reels are an innovative feature that will likely continue to grow in popularity and use, they will eventually disappear at the hand of new flashy in-app features to come. Nevertheless, the exercise and study of how to generously grow your audience and social reach by tapping value systems of algorithmic social models can transform and grow your business like none other. 

Luckily, next up for Thread + Spoke is a pool of relevant content subjects and hacks that will make for captivating reels and digital content. 

Learn More: 

Digital marketing trends will continue to evolve as the world of virtual communication moves forward, connecting customers with an innumerable amount of products and services online. Staying on top of the tools to market yourself is central to staying ahead in an ultra-competitive eCommerce landscape. For more information or a customizable digital marketing plan, contact the Drive Digital Marketing team today.  For more marketing tips, head to the Drive Digital blog.