In July, Instagram announced that all new video posts would be shared as Reels. Video content is all the rage, so it may come as no surprise to learn that Instagram Reels are extremely popular. In fact, Reels generate the most reach on Instagram.
What makes Reels so irresistible, why are they performing so well, and how can your business leverage their potential? Let’s explore all that now!
Instagram is pushing the Reels feature because it’s relatively new — and it presents a way to compete with the video behemoth TikTok. Reels possess some of the same alluring characteristics as TikTok, namely the ability to create short, fun video clips set to popular music.
Like most video content on every social media platform these days, Reels get preferential treatment from Instagram’s algorithm. Therefore, Reels get seen by a larger audience and achieve more engagement than other Instagram content. Reels content not only reaches more of an Instagram account’s existing followers but it can also be seen by a broader audience. Instagram will display Reels to users based on their interests and the content they’ve viewed and engaged with in the past.
So, how can you get started with Reels and create content that will expand your reach and get users to interact with your brand?
1. Keep It Short.
While Reels can last as long as 90 seconds, experts advise keeping them shorter. Generally, aim for 7 to 15 seconds for optimal engagement. Besides catering to users’ limited attention spans, short and sweet clips tend to loop and are counted as multiple views. At least for now, that’s an advantage because the more views a Reel has, the more likely Instagram is to push it out to more users.
2. Keep It Sexy.
Create video content that will quickly capture your audience's attention and make them want more. This example from our client, BYUtv, provides just enough content to keep viewers interested and tuned in. The Reel generated over 500,000 views and 34,000 engagements!
3. Wield the Written Word.
Use text and captions in your Reels to command attention and reinforce your video’s message. Visual words also help ensure people who turn off the volume on their devices will still watch and engage with your content.
4. Film for Both Full-Screen and Cropped Formats.
Viewers see Instagram Reels in a vertical orientation within a frame that has a 9:16 aspect ratio. People who watch Reels in full-screen mode will get the full effect. However, those watching Reels directly in their feed may see a cropped version with a lower aspect ratio. Moral of the story: When creating videos for Reels, avoid having unnecessary imagery and text too close to the edges where important details may get cut off and missed.
5. Leverage Canva for Covers.
Reel covers are the static images that display on your account’s Instagram grid and in the feed. Creating Reel covers allows a business to present an impactful visual and use consistent branding when posting video content on Instagram.
Presently, a one-size-fits-all approach to Reel covers is not advisable. Some Instagram accounts now have a full-screen view, similar to the size of Reels, while others still have a square feed. This TikTok video shows the difference. To ensure the content looks optimal on the grid and in the feed, use a Canva template to create Reel covers.
Examples of Reels that Win
I asked Laney Goff and Ella Gunnell, who contributed to my last post about Instagram Stories, for examples of who’s doing a really good job with Reels.
According to Laney, “Kary is the perfect example of how to utilize the aesthetic design aspect that Instagram has been known for in the past mixed with today's need for relatable, authentic content. Her Reels are beautiful, and they are educational, on-trend, and enticing. She really knows how to keep her audience coming back for more!”
#Stella’s Creative Lead, Ella Gunnell, follows a nutritionist named Dr. Rachel Paul. She likes her Reels because Paul showcases her knowledge in a way that seems natural and encouraging.
“All of her content is very uplifting. She’s created a safe space for people to come and learn about creating healthy relationships with food. She does a great job of staying on-brand and professional even when posting about her personal life and personality. She is also very consistent and posts a variety of Reels five to six times a week!”
A Word About Working Smart
One thing I personally love about Reels is the ability to repurpose content for other channels, such as YouTube Shorts and TikTok. Sometimes, I start with TikTok or Shorts and share those videos to Reels. Some say Instagram’s algorithm will lower the reach of Reels branded as TikTok or Shorts. However, I’ve found moderate success with my content — even with the branding.
Are You Reeling with Excitement Yet?
You should be! Reels offer a fun and effective way to raise awareness of your brand and expand your following on Instagram. I encourage you to dip your toes in the water and test out Instagram Reels! For more Reels tips and insight, check out my social media all this week!