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Instagram Reels: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve never explored Instagram’s most popular latest feature, Instagram Reels, this may be the perfect time to give it a try.

The secret to viral growth on Instagram right now is Instagram Reels.

Launched in the summer of 2020, Instagram Reels was the response to Instagram’s biggest competitor, TikTok, which has over one billion monthly active users.

With TikTok’s impressive spike in popularity, Instagram had to step up its game, find ways to bring in users, increase the time people spend in the app daily, and establish itself as a video entertainment platform. And this is how Instagram Reels was born!

But landing the perfect Reels strategy — and knowing how to use *all* those different editing features — is no mean feat.

In this article, We’re sharing everything you need to know in this Ultimate guide:

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a way to create fun and engaging video content. The video feature is available in the United States and 50 other countries.

Similar to TikTok, Instagram users can record and edit together 15 to 60-second video clips set to music and share them to their Stories, Explore Feed, and the Reels tab on a user’s profile.

instagram reels
Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage., according to Instagram.

On the Reels tab, instead of only seeing Reels from accounts you follow as you scroll, it’s filled with Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram — just like the For You page on TikTok.

On top of seeing Reels on the new Reels tab, you can also find Reels on the Explore page.

When creating a Reel, you can either choose to film video clips on the spot or upload a pre-edited video from your camera roll.

Once you’re happy with the clips, you can use the draw and text tools and choose from a selection of Instagram stickers.

Read More: Instagram Introduces New ‘Insights’ for Reels and Live

How to Create Instagram Reels

To make your own Reel, you simply need to press the plus button at the bottom of your phone, which will take you to a series of options. You’ll need to select Reels (obviously) and let your imagination do its magic.

You can access and create Reels in three different ways: the Instagram home screen, the Reels tab, or the Instagram Stories camera.

To access through the Reels tab, tap the camera on the top right.

instagram reels

To access through the Instagram home screen, tap the “+” on the top right and scroll to the Reels tab at the bottom of the screen.

instagram reels

You can also record Instagram Reels in a series of clips attached afterward or all at once.

Instagram Reels offers a variety of creative editing tools to customize your videos, including:

  • Audio – use a song from the Instagram music library and add it to your Reel to make it more dynamic. You can choose your favorite part from a song or even record your own.
  • Speed – this option is to change the speed of your video. You can slow down or speed up certain parts of the video to help you align it with the music.
  • Effects – select a special effect from Instagram’s gallery created both by Instagram and by users all over the world.
  • Timer – set the timer to record your videos hands-free. Once you’ve pressed this button, you will see a 3-2-1 countdown before the recording begins.
instagram reels

Choose the speed of your video by pressing the play icon:

instagram reels

Decide how long you’d like your video to be by tapping the circle with 15-seconds on the left-hand side. When you press, shuffle between 15, 30, and 60 seconds.

Once you’ve decided on your video length, you can choose how long your clips will be by selecting the stopwatch icon. When you set a timer, there’s a countdown before the recording starts. You can choose between a 3 second and 10-second countdown.

Change the countdown duration by tapping the number next to “Countdown”.

instagram reels

Similar to Boomerang mode, you can scroll across to apply effects or AR filters to your Instagram Reels video. You can choose to use any previously saved filters or you can scroll to the end and tap “Browse Effects”.

instagram reels

Either hold down the record button to capture footage or upload video footage from your camera roll.

Much like on TikTok, you can start and stop recording multiple times during your video by pressing and holding the record button.

instagram reels

If you want to trim or delete any of the clips you’ve filmed, tap the back arrow to the right of the record button. Press into the individual clip you want to edit. When you tap into the clip of your choice, either tap the scissors to trim and the trash to delete.

Once you’re happy with the result, you can use the draw and text tools and select from a number of Instagram Stickers.

If you’re creating a video with a voiceover or dialogue, be sure to add closed captions to your videos. Not only does it help with those watching your videos without sound, but it’s also helpful for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

instagram reels

When adding text to your videos, keep the text placement in mind. This is because when you share an Instagram Reel to the feed, Instagram crops it to 4:5 dimensions. To avoid important text from being cropped, keep your text close to the middle of the screen.

When finished, you can edit the cover photo with a video thumbnail or add a cover from your camera roll. If you’d like to keep your Instagram aesthetic in place, opt for uploading an on-brand image from your camera roll.

instagram reels

Now it’s time to share your masterpiece! You can share the Reel to your Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on your profile.

How to Add Music to Instagram Reels

Like it is on TikTok, music is a huge part of Reels.

If you find a song or audio clip you like, you can tap the music and select “Use Audio”.

instagram reels

Users can also select music from a huge library or use their own audio.

And, Instagram recently added the ability for users to search for specific audio clips — making it easier for users to jump on trends and find specific audio clips.

Beware that the Instagram Reels music feature may not work for all Instagram accounts.

If you notice your account doesn’t have the music feature, don’t panic!

There are ways you can work around it. Either record your own music and audio or you can edit your video outside of Instagram Reels.

If you find a song or audio clip you like, you can tap the music and select “Use Audio

On top of selecting and adding music, there are a number of handy video editing tools to explore. The option to trim and delete video clips, a video countdown timer, the option to adjust your video’s speed, align for transitions, and a library of video effects to choose from.

How to Access Instagram Reels Insights

You can now access insights for Instagram Reels — insights are available in both the Instagram Insights tab and for individual Reels. 

To see how a specific Instagram Reel is performing, visit the Reels tab on your profile page and open a Reel. 

From here, tap the three-dot icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and select “Insights.”

Users can see metrics including Plays, Accounts Reached, Likes, Comments, Saves, and Shares.

Read More: How to Set Up a Business Profile on Instagram in 2021

How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works

The Instagram Reels Algorithm has been a bit of a mystery, especially when it comes to what’s shown as a suggested post, or in the Reels Explore tab.

But, recently Instagram has released some helpful insights.

What we do know about the Reels algorithm is that it favors Reels that:

  • Are entertaining and fun (i.e. delights people, grabs their attention, makes them laugh, or has a fun surprise or twist)
  • Are inspiring (i.e. starts a trend that others can easily participate in)
  • Use creative tools like text, filter, or camera effects
  • Uses vertical video
  • Use music from the Instagram music library and/or original audio you create or find on Reels
  • Are experimental! Try something new, be yourself, and see what works for you

And on the flip side, Instagram advises that brands and creators should not post Reels that:

Instagram has confirmed that content that’s visibly recycled from other apps (containing logos or watermarks) will be less discoverable on the Reels tab.

How to Use Instagram Reels For Business

Instagram Reels is a way to build your community and grow your reach on Instagram. It’s a fun and engaging way to share original and creative snippets with your audience.

Brands should grab the opportunity Instagram Reels offer and engage with a new generation of users: those who prefer quick and easily digestible videos.

If you’re already using Instagram for your business, it may be worth giving Instagram Reels a try.

Here are three ways you can use Instagram Reels in your marketing strategy:

#1: Create Authentic Content

When Instagram Stories entered the scene in 2016, few could have predicted just how successful the fun and informal ephemeral format would prove to be.

If Instagram Stories is anything to go off of, Reels could be even bigger.

They’re designed to be fast and fun and are packed full of special effects that make creating captivating and authentic content seriously easy.

This offers a great opportunity for businesses to show a more human, less picture-perfect side — which can be great for building genuine relationships and strengthening community.

You don’t have to save your personality for other apps, now you can showcase it all on your Instagram. All your followers have to do is slide on over to the new Instagram Reels tab.

And what’s even better? You’ll reach a whole new audience doing so. Your Reels will show up on the users’ Reels tab and just like that, they’ll be able to tap the follow button right away.

#2: Share Educational Content

Posting educational content is a great place to start — give your followers your tips for creating engaging content, teach them how to get the perfect photo, how to write the perfect caption, or show them how to style a skirt five ways.

Sharing educational content is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche and be the go-to content when people search for help on different topics.

#3: Showcase Products

Instagram Reels is a huge opportunity for brands and businesses looking to drive awareness and sales from the platform.

Instagram Reels are shoppable — which means businesses can showcase products and tag them directly. This is major. Since many Instagram creators were already featuring products in their Reels, the addition of shoppable products is a great way to increase sales and traffic to your IG Shop.

Showcase products as creatively as you want and within 3-clicks, users can actually purchase your products straight from the video. If a user is interested, they can tap “View Products” to learn more about the product, save for later, or go ahead and purchase.

How to promote Instagram Reels

  • When promoting an Instagram Reel, the first thing to do is to make sure you have the “Also Share To Feed” option turned on. This will boost your Reel to be seen by more people.
  • Once you’ve uploaded your Reel, you can remove the option by clicking “Remove from Profile Grid” and still have your post boosted. Your Reel will still show in the “Reels” section on your Instagram profile but won’t clutter up your feed.
  • Secondly, you should always strive to create great content. Since Instagram Reels are short videos, they need to be fun and original to catch the viewer’s attention.
  • Just like any other video content, the first seconds of your Reel are the most important.
  • You can use popular audio, flashy text, stickers, or pronounced facial expressions to stop the viewers and make them watch your Reel until the end.
  • You can partner up with influencers to promote your products, especially since Instagram has introduced branded content tags. This Instagram update is a transparent way of showing users when a piece of content is branded.

Benefits of using Instagram Reels

  • Creating Instagram Reels is easy

Creating videos usually means a lot of time, effort, and money. However, Instagram Reels are easy to make since they are designed as short videos. Plus, you can create them directly from the app.

Instagram Reels are not only quick to make, but they are prone to be consumed as well. Our attention span became shorter and shorter over time.

  • Instagram Reels are permanent

Instagram already had a place to create short videos, and that is in Instagram Story. The only problem is that Stories disappear after 24 hours unless saved as highlights.

A key benefit of Instagram Reels is that they are permanent content.

  • Instagram Reels have a separate section on the Hashtag page

As you’ve probably gotten used to already, Instagram will promote its new features intensely among its users. This is why Instagram created a separate section on the hashtag page to promote itself.

Sometimes you may want to watch Reels about a specific topic. And you can do that by tapping the hashtag from the bottom of the video, and you’ll be taken to other posts with the same hashtag.

You can also do that with a specific audio you like. You simply have to tap on the Reel audio in the left corner, which will take you to other Reels that have used the same audio.

This is a great opportunity for any user who wants to push their content in front of a bigger audience.

What’s Next for Instagram Reels

After a full year around the sun, Instagram Reels have solidified their place on the platform.

They’ve proven to be a major growth and engagement hack — and this is only the beginning.

With the integration of Shopping and Branded Content features, we’re seeing brands and businesses use Reels as a way to creatively promote products and partner with influencers to create branded content.

The introduction of Branded Content Tags is a way for Instagram to ensure creators clearly disclose when they’re creating branded content, increasing transparency, and making it easier for creators and brands to create, share, and amplify branded content.

As Reels continue to become an integral part of the Instagram user experience, we expect to see further in-app video editing tools, algorithm disclosure, and insights.

Whatever your brand or business, there’s a creative opportunity waiting for you with Instagram Reels. Instagram Reels allow its users to create compelling content, build relationships, and increase their reach on Instagram.

So why not give it a try?

Chibueze Okonmah

Chibueze is the team lead at Thinkdigiads which was founded back in 2016 with the aim of helping small businesses sell their goods and services with over 5 years of experience in digital marketing and a speciality in paid advertisement and business strategy. After dropping out of school and left with no choice but to be creative, he started the company which has helped thousands of businesses sell out online and today is a certified Digital Marketing Strategist.

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