Today, Instagram unveiled Instagram Reels, a new way to create short, entertaining, informative and engaging videos in just 15-seconds. Over the past several days, I’ve been able to preview the features and functionality of Instagram Reels, and I wanted to share some of my best tips and advice! Hopefully this post saves you time (and stress) as you start to figure out everything out.
Instagram Reels Advice
After all, I love identifying social media trends, my thoughts on them, and solutions for channels, trends, etc. Like all channels, I’m still learning. Also, I’m not a full-time employee of the company, of course! So many things have changed within the first 24 hours (including things I was told are NOT happening vs. what actually are). I’ll update this post as more clarifications and updates come through.
What is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels is a new in-app function where users can create 15-second short clips that are synced with music, audio effects, and/or filters. Reels has been available in a few other countries outside of the U.S. before (Brazil, France, Germany to name a few), and it’s been met with excitement and an increased usage within the app.
Why Should You Do Instagram Reels?
As with any new social media app or functionality, it’s invaluable to be an early adopter. Plus, Instagram Reels gives you a chance to switch things up and try something new. I highly recommend testing it out!
The ultimate goal is discovery. Who wouldn’t want a larger and reach and visibility for their account?
Like many of you, I’ve found it tough to grow my following on the app. Some publishers opt for shady tactics to increase their following that I simply don’t agree with (loop giveaways, buying followers, bots for engagement, comment pods, etc.). Reels gives everyone a chance to be discovered in an authentic way.
Instagram will undoubtedly be doing a big push for Reels within the app itself (in-feed, Explorer tab, etc.). Therefore, the more content you create – the better! In fact, they just unveiled a new Explore feed this morning (below). You’ll notice Instagram Reels is featured at the very top.
Lastly, short video content sparks new ideas and creativity. This weekend, Bob and I tested out a bunch of options. We had a blast! It felt like we were flexing a new creative muscle, which was fabulous!
Who Can Do Instagram Reels?
Right now, Instagram Reels is only available for private/public personal, business and Creator accounts.
PR, advertising and marketing agencies – you’ll likely get a lot of questions in the coming days, and it’s helpful to know all aspects of functionality. Clients may want to start exploring collaborations that incorporate Reels since the publisher reach may be stronger than other content options (i.e. static, Stories, IGTV, etc.).
If you have a Creator and/or personal account and don’t see Reels in your app, I recommend checking to see if you have the most recent version of Instagram on your phone (right now, it’s v152). Be sure to update your app and restart your phone, as needed. Also, as with previously released features, sometimes it takes the app a bit of time to get it loaded into everyone’s account.
How Long are Reels?
15 seconds. Instagram is exploring longer videos, and their team is very aware that publishers are going to want longer duration Reels.
There are several ways to publish your content including to Feed, Stories, and the new Reels Explore feed. You can even send them to close friends groups and/or via DM. Also, be sure to pick a cover image before you publish your Reel. You can pick a cover from one of the clips or select a static image if you’re worried about how it will look in your profile grid.
If you’re not ready to post your reel, simply save it to draft. I’d also recommend saving the entire video to your phone prior to posting (just in case something gets lost or your phone shuts down). If you save the video to your phone, the audio will be removed but you can always add it back in.
When Instagram says “Feed,” they mean the home scroll where you scroll to see content from people you follow. Currently, you have the option to remove and/or add the Instagram Reel to your Profile (i.e. your grid).
But What About TikTok?
In my opinion, social media apps are like the blogging industry – there’s room for everyone. It’s just important to find your niche. I certainly believe both TikTok and Instagram Reels are fun ways to develop content. Granted, I don’t post on TikTok, but I digress…
Sure, there’s a lot of talk about the future of TikTok in the United States, but I believe the app will be around for the long-haul, and a resolution is around the corner.
My best advice? Do not download your video from TikTok with a watermark and upload it to Instagram Reels. Sure, there are workarounds to removing the watermark (which I won’t go into here), but I wouldn’t risk it. Reels with watermarks on them will never make it to the Explorer tab.
One of the coolest aspects of Instagram Reels is the music options. Here’s the best advice regarding music – only use the songs that are provided within app itself! Don’t forget to use the music sticker.
Sure, there are some really fun music clips and great songs that aren’t available within Instagram, but do. not. under. any. circumstance. use. songs. that. aren’t. available. within. app. You’ll thank me later 🙂 Obviously, if you have original audio of your own, go for it. If it’s music that’s not in the app, I wouldn’t be surprised if Instagram removes the audio from your clip after it’s posted.
Why? Well, your music will be taken away from your Instagram account. Instagram takes IP laws very seriously. They have amazing music. Just use the audio/song tab within the app.
One of the coolest aspects of Instagram Reel is that you can apply AR effects and filters to your clips and videos (similar to Instagram Stories). I’ve had a blast playing around with different options within one video (as seen here).
I loooove this tool! It helps create seamless transitions between one clip to another. You’ll notice a faint image of your last body position to help you line up the next clip. Test it out – it’s really cool!
Adding Fun Text to Videos
You can add text overlay like you would in Stories. As you add the text box, you can use the bottom video clipping scroll to pin the text to certain parts of the clip.
This option gives you the option to change the speed of your clips and audio. Quicken things or slow things down. Pretty straight-forward.
If you’re self-recording, the timer helps you get into the right position before the clip begins recording. It makes everything hands free.
Top Instagram Reels Trends
From what I understand, here are some of the top trends for Instagram Reels in other countries:
- Transitions: creating cool and unique transitions between clips.
- Oddly Satisfying: think ASMR, visual effects, slime, etc.
- Skincare Routines: show you get ready for the day.
- Teach Something New: how to fold clothing, iPhone tips, etc.
- Collaborate: tap other creators to create meaningful content.
Why I’m Excited about Reels
All in all, I know that another addition to the social media landscape is frustrating. For most bloggers and influencers, our hours are filled to the brim with trying to keep up with the apps and channels that already exist. Take your time, give yourself some grace, and try to enjoy the process of creation.
Best Instagram Reels Advice
Keep in mind, it’s better to be ahead of the curve than trying to catch up. Good luck, and let me know what you think of Instagram Reels!