Social media platforms are always changing, evolving and adding new ways to create and share content, and the latest addition every marketer needs to learn about is Instagram Reels.
While Instagram’s platform already offers its regular feed, Instagram Stories and IGTV, it has now introduced yet another facet of its app. To learn more about what Instagram Reels are and how your brand can take advantage of this new feature, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide.
Ready to dig in?
What are Instagram Reels?
Long story short, Instagram Reels are Instagram’s attempt at publishing micro-videos on their platform, similar to the ones that have helped propel TikTok to fame.
Similar to other recent content features Instagram has added, Reels offers yet another way to publish content that may not fit perfectly on the feed. In contrast to long form and typically more polished IGTV videos, reels are shorter, more casual and highly explorable and discoverable, similar to TikToks.
These videos are 15-30 seconds each with background audio, whether voiceover, music or another popular sound byte, and are incredibly digestible.
Rather than showcasing more pre-planned or scripted content like a full tutorial or educational video, these are meant to be bite-sized videos that allow viewers to quickly scroll through and find new content.
Reels can be added to a user’s feed, but Instagram has also now updated the app to add a tab on user profiles and in the bottom navigation bar to access Reels.
How to access Instagram Reels
Looking to check out what other brands, influencers and users are doing with this new feature? Be warned that it’s easy to get sucked into an endless loop of creative videos, so make sure you’ve got a free hour or two to explore.
Instagram has recently revamped their navigation, moving notifications to the top right corner next to your direct messages, in order to add space to access reels separately from the rest of your feed’s content.
Simply tap the Reel icon (it looks like a film slate) to see recent and popular Reels. To highlight the discovery factor, you’ll see Reels from a variety of accounts, and not just the ones you’re following.
How to create an Instagram Reel
If you’re interested in testing out Reels for your brand, we’ve put together a quick start tutorial on how to create these short, engaging videos so you can get started.
To get started, click the plus sign at the top right of the app. This is now the first step in creating anything on Instagram, whether it’s a new post, Story, Reel or live video.
Here, you’ll scroll to the type of content you’re planning to create – in this case, the Reels slide.
Once you’re here, you’re ready to start creating your Reel! If you’ve pre-recorded and edited a video, you can upload it by tapping on the square in the bottom left corner and accessing your camera roll.
Otherwise, you can use the record button to start taking your own video right in the app.
Before you record, choose whether or not you plan to create a 15-second Reel or a 30-second Reel. This will limit the time that you can spend recording your video.
You can stop recording before starting again in order to switch camera angles, record a different subject or any other changes to help your idea come to fruition.
Before moving on to your next snippet, you can delete and re-record or trim any parts of your previous snippet. You can even tap the Align button before recording the next segment to ensure your camera is focusing on the same part you left off on to create a more seamless transition.
Instagram Reels also gives you the option to speed up or slow down your recording for an added effect to your video content as well as set a countdown before recording starts so you can easily get into place when creating solo Reels.
Once you’ve finished, add music to the background and add effects that you want, and press the forward arrow to preview your Reel and make sure it’s come out perfectly.
Finally, it’s time to add your caption and decide where to share your Reel before you publish it.
How to use Instagram Reels for business
Now that you know how to create your own Instagram Reels, it’s time to brainstorm a few different ways that your brand can actually use these strategically.
There are a variety of fun and engaging ways to create this type of bite-sized, digestible video content. We’ve got seven ideas to get you started below.
1. Create fun content for your audience
Sometimes the social media content you create doesn’t need to have a sales or conversion objective. Instagram Reels give you the perfect opportunity to create and share content simply for your audience to enjoy, helping you build relationships and connection with your followers.
Take this example from Lego. They’ve created a video of someone playing with differently colored Legos in a satisfying manner. Visually appealing, fun content like this is the perfect way to engage your audience.
Showcase your product, your team or your service in an authentic way, creating unique content with exciting background music.
The entire point of Reels is to create really bite-sized content that excites your audience and gets them to follow along for more great content, becoming more and more acquainted with your brand and what you sell.
2. Share tutorials
Instagram Reels is the perfect place to create short, easy-to-follow tutorial clips that showcase how to do things with your product or service, or simply how to do something that’s relevant to your industry.
Here’s a great example from Lion Brand Yarn teaching their audience how to knit. With the rise in popularity of new at-home hobbies in the past year, putting together a series that teaches viewers how to knit is a great strategy.
Brainstorm a list of helpful tutorials that your audience could benefit from that are hyper-relevant to your brand, product or service. You want your Instagram Reels strategy to consist of several different types of videos, but sharing tutorials every few Reels is a great way to create an educational presence.
3. Behind-the-scenes videos
Another way to engage your audience on Instagram Reels is by showcasing behind-the-scenes video. Introduce employees, show off new products yet to launch, share how you create things that you sell, etc.
You can see an example of the latter in this Instagram Reel from clay earrings creator Greda Co. This shows off how the creator mixes different colors of clay to create one of the colors she uses in her designs.
This is a great tactic for solopreneurs, small businesses and big brands alike because everyone loves to see the behind-the-scenes of how businesses are run or how products are made.
For larger brands, you can even do BTS of different departments and how they do their jobs and help the company run smoothly as a whole.
4. Show off products
While I did say that not every Instagram Reel should be focused on sales, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t show off your products every now and then anyways! Take videos showing off new product releases, showcase how your products can be used and make your audience really want to stop and make a purchase.
This Instagram Reel by activewear brand ALINA SOL shows off the unique feature of their bike shorts’ built-in hidden pocket.
Use Instagram Reels to show off the unique selling point of your products so your viewers get excited about having your product or service in their life and click over to your profile and website, looking to learn more – and buy.
5. Repurpose TikTok videos
Has your brand already developed a presence on TikTok? Or are you creating content for both TikTok and Instagram Reels? Repurpose your videos! This is the perfect way to get more out of your content so you’re not putting double the work on your social and content teams.
And for smaller businesses, you often simply don’t have the bandwidth to create different content for each platform. Thus, repurposing your bite-sized vertical videos is the best way to stretch the value of each piece of content.
Even if you’re pulling past content from TikTok, there’s nothing wrong with having the TikTok branding on your video, as you see in this example from Sling Bungee Fitness. In fact, it’s a great way to let your audience know that they can find you on multiple platforms so they can follow you on TikTok as well.
6. Promote sales
Let your audience know when you’re offering sales and discounts by sharing announcements on your Instagram Reel. This doesn’t have to be anything extremely complicated.
In fact, you can take a page out of this Reel’s book by showing off your sale offers and products in a casual, engaging way.
7. Create educational content
While you might share longform educational video content on Facebook, YouTube or IGTV, Instagram Reels is a great place to put 15-30 second educational snippets that explain a concept to your audience that’s relevant to your business or industry.
Here’s a great example from Shopify on what this could look like.
Record yourself speaking to your audience, add graphics, use text overlays and more to help explain a bite-sized topic to your audience.
Start creating Instagram Reels today
It’s time to start stepping up your Instagram video marketing, and there’s no better way to do that than with Instagram Reels. Start creating short, digestible video content today and build a bigger audience on Instagram.