Instagram Reels in a Nutshell – A Complete Guide

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Due to the quick rise of social media and new features, users’ attention span and patience narrowed. Now the most successful type of content in the online world are videos.

Instagram Reels, which became a strong competitor for TikTok, appeared as a space for creators and businesses to flex their imagination muscle.

Launched in the summer of 2020, Instagram Reels came as a new challenge for marketers who tried to learn how to make use of them.

If you still find it difficult to develop your own Instagram Reels or you feel you are not doing it right, then keep reading. We are here to bring a ray of hope (and plenty of useful tips) for those who feel lost when they think about Reels.

Let’s dive in!

How to leverage Instagram Reels

  1. What are Instagram Reels

  2. How to create Instagram Reels

  3. How to promote Instagram Reels without making them salesy

  4. How the Instagram Reels algorithm works

  5. What are the benefits of using Instagram Reels?

  1. Instagram Reels ideas for businesses

  2. 5 tips to make viral Instagram Reels

1. What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are short, creative videos that can be up to 90 seconds long. These vertical videos are short enough to match the average attention span of users.

IG Reels feature a lot of editing options that help users become more creative, being inspired by the tons of possibilities they have.

When creating Instagram Reels, you can add music, stickers, captions, filters, multiple clips, interactive backgrounds and a lot more.

Instagram Reels are vertically, full-screen videos with an aspect ratio of 9:16, and with a size of 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels.

Social media specialists advise marketers to shoot and edit Instagram Reels in the app because this is how you can make sure that the entire video will preserve its quality from beginning until the end.

To access Reels, you can tap the center button at the bottom of your screen.

You’ll discover popular and trending Instagram Reels on the Explore page, besides Reels from the accounts you already follow, which you can see in your feed, too.

Besides asking yourself what Reels are, at first, you may have been confused about how to use Instagram Reels and how they would help you in your content strategy.

Well, it’s time for you to buckle up because our journey in the how-tos and tips about Instagram Reels has already started!

2. How to create Instagram Reels

Take a deep breath, a cup of coffee and let’s get this Reels party started! Just joking.

It’s more like a lesson, but it is still important to have fun while learning step by step with us on how to make Reels on Instagram.

First, if you want to create a Reel from the Reels tab, you just have to click on it and then press the photo camera icon from the right corner.

If you want to try and make a Reel from your Instagram Home Screen, here is how to do it.

You have to click the “+” button at the top of your Instagram profile and then select Reel from the drop-down menu.

And the third way on how to create Instagram Reels is from the Instagram Stories Camera.

All you have to do is to open the Instagram Stories camera. The Reels icon is at the bottom of the page, between Story and Live.

Tap on it and you will see a bigger Reels icon and once you click on it, the fun begins.

Reels can include several mini clips and even photos from your Gallery. You can film the clips separately and add them one by one from your phone’s Gallery or it can be recorded in one shot.

To add more clips from your camera roll, you need to press the “+” button from the left corner at the bottom of the page.

If you want to record a video internally, directly in the Reels app, all you have to do is to click the Reel icon like in the picture below.

In case you decided that a certain song would perfectly match your Reel, then you can add music by tapping the audio icon located on the left part of your screen.

After choosing the right song, you can also select what part of the song you want to feature in your Reels.

If you want to use an original audio, only will be able to use it if you have a private account.

However, if you have a public Instagram account, other users who want the same audio can select “Use Audio” from your Reel.

From the left-side bar, where you selected the audio, you will also be able to select your video’s speed. The default one is 1x, but you can choose from .3x, .5x, 1x, 2x, or 3x.

If you want to record a hands-free video, you can set up the timer. When you press the record button, a 3-2-1 countdown will appear on your screen before the recording begins.

Now that you recorded part of the Reel, you may want to learn how to access effects. Tap the three starts button from the left-side menu of your screen and a variety of effects will be displayed.

You may choose the one that best suits your Instagram Reels content to make it even more shiny.

Next, if you want to trim, add more clips or reorder the existing ones, you just need to click the “Edit clips” button from the bottom left corner of the screen.

After making sure the clips are in the right order and you clipped them to the desired length, you can hit the Preview button like in the picture below.

After preview, you should try to add a little magic to your Instagram video content and take a look at the variety of effects.

You will have plenty of tools to choose from, most of them also available in Instagram Stories tools.

-Filters – You can swipe left to try the different filters available for your Reels.

-Text – Add text if you have useful info for your followers.

-AR Effects – Here you will discover a wide gallery of AR effects that you can choose from.

-Draw – This tool can help you add something extra to your Reel.

-Audio – Here you can choose the trending music for your Instagram Reels to make your video viral.

-Stickers – From accessing this button, you will be able to add stickers, GIFs, date and time and even captions.

Now you are all ready to share your Instagram Reel you have worked so much for.

After you hit the “Next” button, you can choose the cover photo for your Reel and add a caption.

Then you can choose if you want to share the Reel on your Feed, tag people, rename audio, add location and many more.

After everything is said and done…or maybe after you make sure everything about your Reel is pure perfection, you can hit that Share button and see the number of views growing.

The creative process can become difficult at times and it may take longer than you assumed at first. However, you know that you have to make those 90 seconds count.

Making an Instagram Reels is a piece of cake if you have a great content strategy in mind without being pushy when it comes to your products or services.

Otherwise, users may be tempted to pass on to the next Reel if you behave like you just opened your first booth at the market.

It is best to keep things funny and maybe surprise your followers with new useful info that will make them more curious about your brand.

Since Instagram Reels are short videos, you should try to be original to attract viewers’ attention.

Just like any other video content, the first seconds of your Reel are the most important, like Ginny Fears, Online Business Expert, told me.

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 use popular audio, flashy text, stickers, or pronounced facial expressions to stop the viewers and make them watch your Reel until the end, like the makeup brands from the picture below do.

4. How the Instagram Reels algorithm works

Learning how to make Instagram Reels viral is nothing without understanding how the Instagram Reels algorithm works.

When looking at a short video like Reels, users want to see something funny, inspiring, something that awakens their curiosity or it’s informative enough to make them wonder.

The Instagram algorithm for Reels favors:

  • -Reels which have the right vertical dimensions
  • -Reels with original audio
  • -Reels that make use of effects, filters and more
  • -Reels with more likes, comments, shares, saves and watch time

The Instagram Reels algorithm does not favor:

  • -Reels which don’t meet Instagram’s Community Guidelines
  • -Blurry or low-resolution Reels
  • -Reels that are reused from other social media platforms and also feature their logo or watermark
  • -Reels where a big part of the image is covered by text

5. What are the benefits of using Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are better than other types of Instagram content when it comes to engagement.

Their increased popularity made marketers change their marketing content strategy to cater their customers’ preferences.

Compared to any other type of content on Instagram, Reels are more engaging. Our Q2 industry reports prove that Instagram Reels are the most popular type of content for numerous industries.

Make sure you create inspiring and experimental IG Reels to attract more viewers. Your social media progress is registered through your followers.

Increase all the values of your Instagram metrics by developing engaging video content.

  • Instagram Reels are permanent

Unlike Instagram Stories, where your videos disappear after 24h, Instagram Reels are permanent, unless you decide to delete them, of course.

  • Anyone can discover your Reels

Besides the fact that your IG Reels appear in your Feed and all your followers can see them, your video content can be displayed in Reels Explore.

This way, anyone looking at Reels will, at some point, watch your Reel too.

Since Instagram pushes all Instagram Reels to users’ feeds when it comes to quality video content, you have more reasons to build unforgettable Reels.

Let them wonder how you did it with a mesmerizing 90-second video. When your IG Reels do not only reach your followers, then you are building brand awareness.

More and more IG users will find out about your brand and products through your Instagram Reels that appear in their feeds. This is what we call a job well-done!

Instagram has its own ways of promoting its new features. And this happened for Reels as well.

Reels that have a series of hashtags in their caption can lead you to other related videos that have the same hashtag.

How cool is that? You can start an entire marathon of Reels featuring cats by using the hashtag #cat.

6. Instagram Reels ideas for businesses

More than 80% of people use Instagram to search products, companies and services. This is an opportunity for brands to make things right and thoroughly think and rethink their marketing strategies.

Instagram Reels help marketers create a bridge between their brand and the various types of Instagram users, trying to fulfill their needs.

Instagram Reels are a new way of building a community and growing reach for businesses. Reels are not only fun, but they are likely to be shared, so it’s an easy way to create genuine relationships with your followers.

You don’t have to be a young person dancing or lip-syncing to win with the feature…While the creative aspects of Reels are amazing, simple video content that offers value and hooks a viewer in work. Draw your ideal client in by speaking to the results and pain points of your offering. By simply using the Reel format you will get an increased reach – which means more eyeballs on your posts. – Sue B. Zimmerman, Instagram expert

From educational content to tutorials and showcasing products, the possibilities are endless. Here are three examples that can be applied to every business:

It’s no secret that followers are curious about how a product is made. So pull back the curtain and take your followers behind the scenes!

Whether you are a small business owner or a large company, creating behind-the-scenes videos can be fun and effective.

Taking the time to show your customer base the whole process of making a product and the effort behind it means you care.

This is a great Instagram Reel idea to tell your followers that you want to involve them and show the human side of your brand.

So next time you’re packing a new order, creating a leather belt, or pouring a candle, take out your phone, start filming, follow the tips I shared above, and share it with your followers!

  • Share educational content

Use Instagram Reels to teach your followers something new or share tips and tricks from your expertise.

You can show your followers tips for creating engaging content, five ways of styling a dress, how to write the perfect caption, or how to create an Instagram strategy to increase engagement.

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.

For example, Instagram expert Sue B. Zimmerman uses Instagram Reels to tell what are the biggest mistakes when making a video, how to get more reach on Instagram, or when is the best time to invest in your business. Education can be fun, right?

7. 5 tips to make viral Instagram Reels

Now that you’ve learned how to make Instagram Reels, you need to learn how to make Reels viral.

There are plenty of Instagram Reels ideas out there that can help you bring your content upfront.

If you follow the unwritten rules of Instagram, the platform is likely to put your IG Reels first like someone arranging their best books on the top shelf in their bookcase.

When creating a new Instagram Reels, you should keep in mind the fact that people (from your brand) address people (your followers/ Instagram viewers).

If your video content features a person using your products or talking about them, then your chances of being seen increase.

By sharing true, heartfelt stories you help viewers connect with your brand and see who stands behind all the strategies and statistics.

An Instagram Reels that follows a structure will surely make users interact. A very successful combo is trending audio, a beginning where the tension builds up, a funny story and an ending that will make you gasp. And you will feel like you won the lottery!

First things first! Trending audio should be your main interest when creating a new Instagram Reel.

That is why you need to keep up with the latest tendencies. Hop on a trend before it becomes old news and you will make waves.

Instagram pays close attention at the video content you upload. That is why it is best to post original, creative clips, without cross-posting videos that have already been posted to other social media platforms and also feature a watermark.

The truth is your Instagram Reel that looks like that will not get too far, having lower chances to reach more viewers.

In 2021, Instagram added a new feature named Collabs, where it offers creators the chance to create content and share the credit.

If you develop an Instagram Reels in collaboration with another business, you can both benefit from the number of views and the engagement it gets.

This Instagram feature is really helpful if you work with influencers and brand partners since both parts will benefit the collaboration.

Their followers will learn more about their partners, and vice versa.

Final thoughts

With all these things in mind, you may wonder what is next for Instagram Reels.

We can say that the future seems bright if it were to compare Instagram Reels to Instagram Stories. Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories now has more than 500 million active daily users.

One thing is certain, though. Instagram Reels allow its users to create compelling content, build relationships, and increase their reach on Instagram.

So why not give it a try?

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