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The Only Instagram Reels Guide You’ll Ever Need

Your definitive guide to ensuring your Instagram Reels are helping you organically reach more people and increase your engagement.

Posted 10 months ago

Written by

Sam King
Posted 10 months ago
Instagram announced that they no longer wanted to be thought of as “the square photo-sharing app” but instead a “general entertainment app driven by algorithms and videos” – like Instagram Reels. So, it’s no wonder that Reels have completely taken over, and both creators and businesses have markedly shifted their strategies to focus heavily on this short form video content. Instagram Reels can organically increase engagement, and expand your reach to a much wider audience, making it one of the platform’s most invaluable content formats. In today’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about creating Reels that pack a punch, and will undoubtedly grow your audience on Instagram.

The Complete Guide to Instagram Reels

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  1. The Complete Guide to Instagram Reels

What are Instagram Reels? 🤔

Instagram Reels are short form video content, that came about as a result of TikTok’s booming popularity amongst billions of users. Reels can last between 15 seconds to a minute and can either be uploaded from your camera roll or recorded in-app. The dimensions of an Instagram Reel is 1080 x 1920 (9:16). Like TikTok, you can edit your videos, add text, stickers and music, all within the app and either post live, or save your creations to publish later.
Instagram Reels Guide

Why should you use Instagram Reels? 🤝

In this guide, there are a number of reasons why your ball should firmly be in the Instagram Reels court. Firstly, they have fast become the easiest way to reach a mass audience with just one post, and also have higher potential for going viral. This is because as viewers watch Reels, once one video ends, a new video pops up and is suggested to them immediately. Suggested videos are usually related to viewers’ interests and what they tend to interact with, so your videos are likely to target the audience you need.
Unlike the traditional Instagram feed, you won’t just see posts from those that you follow, you’ll constantly see a stream of new content from new users, as you watch. Another reason why you should be leveraging this short form content on your platform, is because Instagram’s algorithm definitely has a soft spot for Reels. The reason the platform is pushing video content so heavily is because users respond to it so well, and it keeps them in the app for longer. Naturally, this means Instagram will want to prioritise this, hence the algorithm is usually on your side.

How to use Instagram Reels 👀

You can create a Reel one of two ways:
  1. Record, edit and create your Reel outside of the app, save it to your camera roll and upload it directly in Instagram.
  2. Record, edit and create your Reel in-app, using the Instagram Reels editor.
If your video is based around a popular track, it’s more likely that you will record the content in-app, since you can play the music whilst you record. If you are producing a highly edited piece of content over multiple days, it’s more likely you will create it outside of the app and upload it later.
instagram reels guide
Our guide to creating Reels on Instagram:
  1. Select the plus button in the top righthand corner of your profile.
  2. Click Reel, and you will be directed to the camera. If you want to upload something from your camera roll, just swipe up and select the videos or photos you want to add.
  3. Otherwise, record your content using the camera. You can select various settings such as the music you want to use, how long you want your Reel to be, what speed you want to record at, whether you want to use filters, and whether you want to use self timer to count you in.
  4. If you want to access popular features like ‘green screen recording’, you can find these in the filters section.
  5. Once uploaded, you can add stickers, text, drawings and closed captions. If you want to learn more about how to use closed captions to increase accessibility of your content, just click here.
  6. Once you are happy, select next, add your caption and select whether you’d like to share your Reels to your main feed too. You can also add a cover from your camera roll, or select one from your video, as well as adjust how your thumbnail will appear in-feed.
💡 QUICK TIP: When your Reel is being previewed on someone’s feed, they will only be able to view your Reel in 4:5 dimensions (rather than the Reels size of 16:9). Users will have to click into the Reel, or be watching on the ‘Reels feed’ to be able to see your full size video, so make sure any text you use fits within the dimensions of 1080 x 1350 (4:5), so it doesn’t get cut off in feed previews.
how to edit videos

How does the Instagram Reels Algorithm work? 📈

Probably the most talked about topic amongst businesses, creators and Social Media Managers trying to perfect their Instagram strategies. We all have a love/hate relationship with the ‘algorithm’. But, how does the Instagram Reels Algorithm work, and in what way does it differ to Instagram’s traditional feed?
Instagram takes into consideration how likely it is that a user will watch a Reel, by looking at:
  • How likely a user is to watch a Reel all the way through.
  • How likely they are to interact or engage.
  • How likely they are to go to the audio page of that Reel and make their own.
  • What Reels a user has engaged with in the past.
  • Whether or not a Reel is already popular, or whether the music track it has used is popular.
  • Information about the creator.
There are also reasons why your Reel might not be suggested within Instagram’s algorithm:
  • The video contains a watermark (such as a repost saved from TikTok).
  • The Reel is low resolution.
  • The video contains inappropriate content or banned hashtags.
  • The Reel features heavily political content.
💡 QUICK TIP: Because Reels are so fast paced, you should try to get your point across, or show users what your content is going to be about in the first three seconds. This will help users understand the content quickly, and will make them more likely to watch the whole video.

How to go viral on Instagram Reels ❤️

The burning question, that every grammer’ wants to know and every Social Media Manager is trying to decipher on the daily. Luckily for you, we’ve covered going viral on Instagram Reels in this guide!

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How to add music to Instagram Reels 🎶

Music, or 1sounds’, are arguably one of the most important elements of Instagram Reels. Trending music can determine whether or not you go viral on the platform, and can be the catalyst in giving your videos that added momentum. Instagram’s algorithm takes this into consideration, so it would be a disservice not to build your strategy around it.
You can either add music to your content after you make the video, by using Instagram’s music library or before. If you see a track or sound that inspires you on someone else’s Reel, look at the bottom of the video where the track is listed, and click it. This will take you to the sound page, where you can choose to create your own video using this audio. You can also save it for later, if you want to come back to it.
instagram reels guide
To access Instagram’s music library when you are already in the app-editor, just select the music icon, and you’ll be given access to a plethora of song choices. If you are using a Business account, however, you will only be able to access royalty free music, due to copyright claims.

Using Hashtags on Instagram Reels #️⃣

Like all other posts, hashtags on Instagram Reels will increase your organic reach, by helping the platform categorize, and better understand your content, as well as who to suggest it to. In this blog article, we cover everything there is to know about using hashtags the right way on Reels.

How to edit your Reel 📹

Much like recording content, you can either edit your Reels in-app, or on a different platform like InShot, Prequel or Premier Pro. InShot and Prequel are both great options if you want to add different overlays, sound effects, fonts, or you need more options when it comes to cutting and shifting your clips.
If you want to edit in-app, it’s a lot simpler. You can shorten clips you upload from your camera roll, and delete or add clips if you are pre-recording live, but you can’t shift them around in a timeline-like style. Most of the editing you’ll do in-app will be through adding stickers, gifs or text.
how to edit videos
If you want to create a video with a transition, you can record a clip, save your content as a draft, and then keep creating later.

How to add images to Instagram Reels 🏙

Feeling like a regular Picasso and want to practice a little bit of mixed media? You can upload both photos and videos to Reels, but you’ll have to use an image that already exists in your camera roll. Swipe up in the Reels editor, and select the photo you want to feature. You can then alter how long you want it to last by adjusting the timing as you upload.

How to share and download videos 💌

Repurposing and reposting Reels can be a great way of filling in gaps within your content calendar. Check out our article all about how to share and download Reels content, here.

How to Remix or react to an Instagram Reel 💽

Did you know that you can create reaction videos featuring other people’s Reels? Or create side-by-side videos with some of your favourite content creators? Here’s how to use the Remix feature!

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How to measure and track your performance using analytics 📊

Although Instagram hasn’t fully opened their API for Instagram Reels, they have been making recent changes, which allow creators to have access to some insights, like reach, Impressions, discovery and more. It’s important you are constantly checking in on your Reels Insights, so you can understand what people respond to, and which content formats you should keep producing. Something that is also useful to keep track of, is when you post your top performing Reels. If you start to notice a trend, you might find that certain times are best for you to post your Reels, if you want to see the highest engagement.
At the moment, you’ll have to track this manually, but this will be rolled out on our Analytics Suite in the near future. You can access Instagram insights, alongside other Instagram data in our Analytics Suite, but to learn how to understand Insights, and integrate them into your strategy, read this article.

Let’s Recap! Best Practices Checklist for Instagram Reels From our Guide ✅

  • Create organic content that fits in with what is trending on Reels. Try to avoid over-polished pieces that are better suited to other platforms.
  • Utilize trending music tracks and sounds to increase your chances of landing on the explore page.
  • Pay attention to your engagement in relation to the times you are posting to decipher your best times to post.
  • Jump on to trending formats and cultural moments.
  • Look for gaps within your market or niche.
  • Understand your analytics to see what types of Reels your audience responds best to.
  • If you repurpose content across apps, use applications to remove watermarks, and make sure resolution is high.
  • Make sure any text you use fits in with the dimensions of your in-feed preview (1080 x 1350 (4:5).
  • When creating a Reel, try to get your point across in the first 3 seconds, so your audience continues to watch.
You’ve reached the end of our guide, and hopefully you are armed with everything you need for creating Instagram Reels that not only increase your engagement, but also reach a broader audience. The content format is fast becoming one of Instagram’s favoured content streams, so it’s important you leverage them in the right way for you.
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