Overwhelmed by the idea of Instagram Reels? Learn what they are, how to use them, how to create them, and how Reels can take your marketing plan to the next level.
Have you ever flipped through an old photo album? It can be difficult to get an idea of the people’s personalities in those still pictures. There’s no voice, movement, or activity. Instagram Reels is a social media platform’s way of breathing vibrance and energy into your brand’s personality.
In this article, you will learn:
- Is Instagram Still Worth My Time?
- What Is Instagram Reels?
- How Is Reels Different from Instagram Stories and Videos?
- How Long Can Reels Be?
- How to Use Reels to Grow Your Business
- How to Plan Your Instagram Reel
- How to Make a Reel on Instagram with Photos
- How to Save Reels
- Make the Most of Your Instagram Reels
Is Instagram Still Worth My Time?
I accepted a part-time role as Communications Director for a non-profit this year. My first order of business was diving into the brand’s social media. Why? Because it is such a huge part of the modern marketing plan. I needed to know where we were spending our time and whether there was a solid return on investment (ROI) on the different platforms.
What I learned: Our social media engagement had taken a nosedive in 2022. Before panicking, I looked into the trends.
Across every single industry, social media engagement fell 30% last year. While that sounds shocking, Instagram engagement is still significantly higher than Facebook and Twitter. Even more interesting, while engagement was falling, the number of posts per week jumped about 25% across all industries.
This means that people are posting a lot, but viewers aren’t engaging with those posts. But, just because engagement is down doesn’t mean people aren’t on social media.
According to techjury:
- An average user spends two and a half hours daily on social media in 2022.
- Half of our time on our phones in 2022 is reserved for social media.
- Instagram users are spending an average of 28 minutes on the platform daily.
As a small business owner or marketing professional, your job is to get (and keep) those eyes on your message.
That’s where Reels come in.
What Are Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels are fun videos with a purpose. That purpose can be to inform, entertain, educate, or inspire your audience. Since their creation in August of 2020, they have become the hottest upload format on Instagram.
Reels are full-screen, vertical videos seamlessly added into the still shots of the traditional Instagram feed.
These videos can include music, filters, captions, stickers, and backgrounds. Since Reels are suggested to users based on their individual interests, they’re an excellent marketing tool for growing your brand.
Remember, the goal is to hook the viewer. It takes people an average of 7 seconds to form an impression of your brand, and 5-7 impressions for them to recognize your company logo.
How Are Reels Different from Instagram Stories and Videos?
Instagram allows four different kinds of videos: Stories, Reels, Videos, and Livestream. Here’s what makes each unique.
Instagram Stories are limited to 15 seconds and are usually more casual. They are only available for 24 hours, but you can save your content as a Highlight.
Instagram Reels are attention-grabbing videos that are limited to 90 seconds. Reels appear in your traditional feed. They can be found on the tab between your regular feed and Instagram video section. They’re shown to users who have interest in various products or services.
Instagram videos are regular video posts that stay on your profile alongside photo posts, as well as staying on the video page of your profile. Instagram allows these videos to be 10 minutes long for regular users, and up to 60 minutes long for blue checkmark-verified users.
Alternatively, you have the option to livestream a video. Similar to Facebook Live, Instagram Live allows you to showcase events, products, and services while injecting unedited personality into your social media marketing plan.
Once in the app, all four options appear when you click the plus sign.
How Long Can Reels Be?
The maximum Instagram Reels length is 90 seconds. While the default length of Instagram Reels is 15 seconds, that can be adjusted to a full 90 seconds in two ways.
Method 1: Adjust settings while recording the Reel via the in-app camera. (More on this in the “How to Make a Reel on Instagram” section below.)
Method 2: Upload a video as a post, which is later shared as a Reel. (More on this later, too.)
Note: In July 2022, Instagram made a change to its video policy. Now, Instagram shares any video shorter than 15 minutes as a Reel automatically. All videos posted prior to the changes are not affected.
Instagram Reel size is 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels. The app will make this adjustment as you record.
How to Use Reels to Grow Your Business
Reels are one piece of your marketing puzzle. Without a definite shape and purpose, the pieces cannot fit together into a beautiful and complete marketing picture.
Reels are ideal for things like:
In addition, you can use Reels to offer exclusive discount codes. You can even interview someone within your business or organization. The possibilities are endless.
Now that your creative brain is working, it’s time to corral all those creative ideas.
How to Plan Your Instagram Reel
In the world of woodworking, people are taught to measure twice and cut once. While videography is a bit more forgiving than lumber, it can be exhausting to just hit “record,” watch it, and hit record again.
The key: Planning.
But the planning doesn’t have to be boring and solo. After all, social media is meant to be social. Just like building your Creative Advisory Board, grab a group of people who can help you plan your Reels.
You don’t have to script the entire video, but you do need to ask yourself some questions.
- Who is my target audience? What could Reels provide them better than any other social media option?
- What topics can I cover that would benefit my brand? Recipes, for example, make sense for a nutrition coach, but not so much for someone who is a makeup artist.
- Do you have a content calendar? What could Reels add to what you’re already planning?
- Who are your biggest competitors? How are they utilizing Reels?
- When you scroll through Instagram, which videos grab your attention? How can you incorporate those techniques into your own videos?
Once you have an idea of your message and your goal, it’s time to grab your camera and start making a splash with Reels.
How to Make an Instagram Reel
To record a Reel, follow these simple steps.
- Click the Create on the left side of the app. It looks like a + button.
- Click the Reels button. It looks like a video play button.
- From there, you can play with filters. This is what each tool does.
Music allows you to search for a song in the app’s music library. Choose the song that is ideal for your video, then choose which segment goes best with the action on the screen.
- The timing tool changes the length of your reel. The default length is 15 seconds, but this can be adjusted to up to 90 seconds.
- The button that looks like sparkles shows you special camera effects. These overlays manipulate the world of the screen. Swipe up to scroll through popular effects or tap the search button to find more effects.
- The speed button allows you to change the pace of your reel. If you are looking to add a unique pop, changing your Reel to slow motion adds emphasis to something the audience may otherwise miss. Making it super fast is effective for a loop.
- The stopwatch/timer button allows solo artists to set up the camera, get in place, and begin recording without requiring a helper. This is a great feature for dancers, singers, and artists.
- The layout button allows you to arrange and change the layout of your reel.
- A new tool appears after you record your first clip. This tool allows you to see the end of your last clip so you know how to position yourself to seamlessly connect with the next clip. You can use the transparent photo to align your next clip before recording.
- The camera plus button allows you to record a reel using both the front and back cameras on your device at the same time.
How to Save Reels
Reels can be saved in two ways: To Instagram as a published video and to your camera roll.
How to Save Your Reel to Instagram
Before posting, your video is for your eyes only. If this is your first Reel, it’s a good idea to get feedback from someone else. Once you’re happy with it, you can share your Reel with the world.
To save your Reel, click “Next.”
Choose the cover image you want for the Reel. Then, add a caption.
Finally, you can choose to tag people, add your location, and choose which accounts to share the Reel to.
How to Save Your Reel to Your Camera Roll
Whether you want to repurpose your video or simply want to have a copy of what you’ve created, saving your Reel to your phone gallery is a common thing to do.
To download your own Reels to your Camera Roll, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile.
- Open the Reels you want to save.
- Tap the three-dots button at the lower-right corner of the Reel.
- Choose the “Save to camera roll” option from the menu that pops up.
How to Make a Reel on Instagram with Photos
You can also use a combination of videos and pictures to create a Reel.
To start, Select Reel as if you were creating a new video. Then, find the video or picture on your Camera Roll by choosing the + in the lower-left corner of the app screen.
You can now utilize all the tools of the Reels editor.
If you want a quality picture editor or stock photos, check out the Create Tool. It’s an all-in-one creative solution that makes photo editing a breeze. Use it to make your photos Reel-ready by removing their backgrounds or by editing portraits.
Make the Most of Your Instagram Reels
Now that you’ve learned the basics, keep going! Play with the tools and as you grow comfortable, add more Reels into your content calendar to expand your reach and grow your audience.
Want more? Shutterstock has a full line of social media articles for small businesses and marketing professionals including:
License this cover image mockup via Dean Drobot and persianshortie.