The runaway success of Tiktok hasn’t gone unnoticed by competing social media networks.
In a tech landscape full of apps vying for user attention, it’s no surprise that sometimes brands may consider that the best way to keep your audience using yours is to reinterpret what’s already gaining traction elsewhere.
Reels is Instagram’s answer to TikTok, a new feature hosting short-form video content (with a max of 15 seconds) with features encouraging users to take more creative liberties with their video content and a new way to share them with the wider Instagram community.
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Why should you be interested in Instagram Reels?
While Reels can be similarly shared to your Instagram account’s main feed and Stories, they shake up the followers-only limitations by receiving a dedicated space on the app’s “Explore” tab, where users can go to find fresh content tailored to their interests.
Sharing these quick, bite-sized creative videos has the potential to expose your content to more viewers—and organically, at that.
Brands acting as early adopters have already found successful engagement with their Reels—after all, “macro content,” short-form, relatable, less-produced content is, according to Forbes, a trend.
How do you create a Reel?
Getting started is as simple as opening the camera function on your Instagram app. You can slide through the options at the bottom and select “Reels” to bring up icons representing the effects you can add to each clip.
You aren’t limited to taking videos straight from the app, either. Those who want a bit more control or polish can also use a video editing app beforehand to crop your clips, adjust the color grading with filters, or add some borders to make them visually distinct. Just click on your gallery preview in the lower-left.
Now that you know the basics of creating a reel, it’s time to learn how to create great ones. Here are 5 tips on how you or your brand can bring your creative A-game to your Instagram Reel content.
1. Play with Reels’ Built-In Editing Features
Instagram Reels have a different set of built-in editing tools than Stories, which helps differentiate the two.
With these editing tools, you can choose to construct a more carefully-planned video or play around however spontaneity leads you—but the result will definitely be interesting. Here are the options you should watch out for:
- AR Effects. Just like what you can do with Instagram Stories, Reels gives you access to the extensive AR effect gallery full of filters and special animations made both by Instagram and by the community. You aren’t limited to just one feature per Reel, either—the ability to record multiple clips and splice them together means you can play around with multiple effects per Reel.
- Align Feature. If you’ve been on TikTok, this may come as a welcome surprise. The Align feature presents a guide to help you line up subjects from your previous clip so you can seamlessly transition between that one into the next. Use this to give your viewers a jolt of surprise—like a sudden outfit change, special appearance, and more.
- Timer and Countdown. Unlike with the in-app video options for Stories, Reels allows you to take hands-free videos by allowing you to set a timer (with the number of seconds you want) and counts down before it begins recording.
- Speed. This simple feature allows you to either speed up or slow down your videos, which can be used in combination with audio—slow down your subjects when the beats slow down for dramatic effect, create a rapid time-lapse, and more.
2. Use (and Share) the Right Audio
While Instagram allows access to their own music library for Reels, this aspect may be a bit more challenging for business accounts. Due to copyright restrictions, business accounts may not receive full access to Instagram’s music library.
The bright side of this is that you’re encouraged to upload original audio to accompany your Reels—and if that takes off, others can download your audio to use in theirs as well, while maintaining the credit to your profile.
So choose the original music, sound effects, and voiceovers you think audiences would want to put their own spin on.
You can do the same thing as well and put your own spin on others’ original audio creations.
This not only allows you to save time on creating new audio for your Reels but also brings you extra visibility from the original creator’s community. You can easily browse through others’ Reels and save audio that interests you into your own library for future use.
3. Share Tips and Insider Knowledge
Not sure how your brand can effectively use Reels to showcase your products or services in a creative way? Share what you know. One of the best assets you have is information and communicating that in a fresh way to wider audiences can bring some new eyes to your profile.
According to parent company Facebook, more than 50% of Instagram accounts use the Explore tab each month to discover new content related to their interests—a great opportunity to showcase what your brand is and what it offers. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Product tutorials and product unboxing can be used in conjunction with the speed manipulation options in Reels to showcase what you can offer in a brief, yet informative manner. In fact, 80% of Instagram users in one study stated they love how-to video tutorials. Speed through an unboxing video to get to products faster, or slow down key parts of a “how-to” tutorial to give users a closer look at important steps.
- Tips and tricks can be given by brand representatives or staff themselves. Rather than contending with a faceless entity, having your team introduce products or services themselves can make promotions more relatable. You can even plan out mini-skits using the align feature to portray characters or dress in different looks your audience can relate to.
4. Encourage Viewers to Act
You do have to create a caption to include with your Instagram Reels. Additionally, you have the option to repurpose your Reels videos and share them with both your main Instagram feed as well as your Instagram Stories.
While this can help you save time on content creation, and you can cover all bases in terms of visibility when you share Reels to multiple channels, some of your message may get lost in the shuffle.
Avoid this by placing your call-to-action within the content of the Reel itself. Whether it be an audio cue, a visual cue, or additional superimposed text, make sure to get your message across immediately—users will be paying more attention to the video itself, after all, and not anything else around it.
This is essential if part of your plans is to start a trend or challenge for other users to participate in. Don’t forget to encourage them to join you and show your brand is open to engagement!
5. Collaborate with Creative Partners
It’s always good to have the input of experts, and the masters of short-form content are the power users and influencers who have already been making their own for Instagram, as well as other top money making video platforms like TikTok and YouTube.
Partnering with influencers is an effective way to monetize your content. To do so, ask these questions:
- Can you envision them promoting your products or services in a similar way? Does their content inspire creativity?
- What kind of following do they have? Do they have a similar target market and do they communicate with their fans the same way you talk to your audience?
- Do they fit in with your brand values? Are they the kind of person who would use your products in their daily life?
If the answer to these questions is all YES, then it may be time to reach out. It brings results, too—beauty retailer Sephora, for example, collaborated with influencer Ryan B. Potter to create a Reel video for makeup lovers that ended up earning nearly 2 million views.
Another way to collaborate, other than partnering with influencers and brand ambassadors, is to reshare and repurpose the user-generated content you have. Create a Reel full of users using your products in different ways or share their tutorial videos (with appropriate credit).
Fast-forwarding Instagram Strategy with Reels
The introduction of new features into a main social media marketing channel inevitably presents new challenges for marketers to overcome.
It may seem overwhelming to read up and learn about each new addition to your chosen platform—but it’s an essential task that can bring big rewards if you manage your resources and apply your ideas thoroughly. After all, bigger brands aren’t hesitating to take the leap—why should you?
Just like the 15-second clips that are all the rage, think quickly and move quickly, lest your brand gets left behind.
This post was written by Denise Langenegger. She is part of the team at Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile.