Instagram Reels are engaging and fun short-form videos that can be up to 90-seconds long. Reels are published directly to your Reels tab on your profile, can be shared on your Stories and–and if you play your quality content cards right–will be pushed out to the Explore Feed.
Since hitting the platform in late 2020 (Brazil was the lucky first country to get access!) Reels have transformed the Instagram experience to prioritize short-form, vertical video content. We are still seeing Instagram boosting this feature with higher organic visibility on your Feed and Explore pages. 50% of users use the Explore page every month.
Instagram is also currently testing a full-screen immersive feed, no doubt designed with Instagram Reels in mind.
Initially just 15 seconds, Instagram doubled the maximum running length for Reels to 30 seconds a month after the feature’s release before doubling it again in July 2021. This move came only a few weeks after TikTok tripled the maximum length of their videos from one minute to three. In 2022, Instagram extended Reels lengths to 90-seconds.
Interestingly, Reels ads have a maximum running length of just 60-seconds.
As some of the most engaging content formats available to brands, businesses and creators, Instagram Reels are becoming an essential part of any marketing strategy.
If you find yourself asking “well that’s all great… but how do I even start?” you have come to the right place!
The stats don’t lie! Consumers are lapping up short-form video. Research from Wyzowl shows that 86% of marketers saw increased traffic due to video marketing, and 84% have seen increased leads.
Instagram boasts a 1.5% engagement rate for video posts. In 2022, Instagram users will be on the platform for 30 minutes per day a huge percentage of this time is spent viewing Reels. It is the fastest-growing feature worldwide with 9 out of 10 users watching Instagram videos weekly.
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has gone on record to say that Instagram is no longer just an image-sharing app. They’ll be leaning more and more into video in order to compete with the likes of TikTok and YouTube–which means the Instagram algorithm priorities Reels content.
Put simply, Instagram Reels is the best way to go viral on the platform and boost your organic reach without spending money on ads. Reels have a longer shelf life than stories, grid posts and Instagram video.
If you’re wanting to grow your business’ online presence, you really can’t afford not to be on Instagram Reels.
Top tips for using Instagram Reels for Business:
- Be consistent and as frequent as you can. Post 3 to 5 Reels per week. Scheduling your Reels ahead of time will help you stay on track with your posting plan
- Share educational or inspiring content which will encourage people to save and watch on repeat.
- Put a unique twist on trends and make the videos relevant to your niche
- Stick to your niche to attract the right followers to your account
- Use relevant hashtags to describe your Reel and paste them at the bottom of your caption
- Create Instagram Reels covers to keep your feed cohesive and make the topic of each video visible.
Instagram Reels are super easy to make – you only need Instagram and your iPhone.
Some best performing Reels are no longer than 30 seconds. Set aside a small amount of time to find an idea and film. You can even batch create and schedule ahead of time.
You can record and edit together your Instagram Reel directly in your account. Choose to add audio from a huge library, or add your own. You can also adjust your videos speed and add effects like gifs or a countdown timer.
Other Reels editing features include:
- Splicing together existing videos from your camera Reel
- Overlaying text on videos
- Dubbing audio
- Remix feature (“inspired” by TikTok’s Duet feature). When you watch someone else’s Reel, you can film your own reaction or response to it.
The key to creating a successful Reel includes:
Creating a strong hook
- Using different cuts to keep people engaged and watching all the way through
- Focusing on creating content that’ll entertain or educate people and encourage a reaction (liking, sharing etc.)
Instagram Reels ratios
Instagram Reels are designed to be viewed as 9:16 (1080 X 1920) or vertically full screen, which is the exact same format as Instagram Stories you’re already familiar with.
It’s perfect for your full-body visual of your dance challenge. BUT, when Reels appear in the newsfeed they are displayed in a 4:5 ratio, more commonly known as ‘portrait’ (1080 X 1350) – for now anyway, Instagram is always testing, testing!
What does this mean? Well, when displayed in the Reels newsfeed, it will crop the top 15%, and the bottom 15% off your Reels video.
You’ll want to ensure the main visual of your content is lined up within the 4:5 ratio area, and that it’s perfectly centred in the middle of the 9:16 screen.
When the video appears in the Reels News Feed, it is still appealing to watch and not cropping heads off, while also still remaining perfect in the intended ratio of 9:16 in the Reels library. Read more Reels ratio tips here.
Getting “featured” on Instagram Reels?
Reels also have the opportunity to be featured. These featured videos are hand-selected by Instagram’s in-house content curators — who have the enviable job of searching for trending themes and content! The videos users engage with then informs Instagram’s personalized algorithm, which is powered by AI (artificial intelligence).
Want to get your Reels content noticed by Instagram? Make sure you’re creating engaging, unique content that puts your own spin on current trends.
Rather than sticking to existing songs or trending audio tracks, you can now import audio files directly from their own device into the Instagram app to be used in your next Reel.
Once you open Instagram and navigate to Reels on the left-side you’ll see ‘Select Audio’ and an ‘Import’ button next to “Saved’
Or, to use an existing sound simply:
- Search the audio browser to find sounds and music for your clips.
- When the Reels screen loads, you’ll see a bunch of new icons on the left hand side of the screen. Tap on the music note to choose music or a sound for your Reel
- Tap the ‘Saved’ icon to view sounds you’ve added to your collection
- Browse songs that are trending on Instagram
- View songs Instagram thinks you will like in the ‘For You’ section. Or, tap on the ‘Search Music’ bar at the bottom screen to look for a particular song or artist
- Save audio clips to a folder and use it for a future Reel (You can also save these clips in your Plann TikTok planning workspace).
- You can also choose to DM the sound to a friend by tapping on the paper plane icon. Your friend will receive a link to the audio page and can save it to their folder and see all the other Reels using the sound.
Reels cover photos can give viewers a sneak preview of your Reels video, encouraging them to click on your link. They also make your feed look more cohesive, which is helpful for brand recognition.
When you upload a new Reel, Instagram will automatically pick a default thumbnail, you can work around this by adding a cover image:
Step 1: After you create an Instagram Reel and select the ‘Share’ option, you’ll be asked to ‘Crop Profile Image’ on the ‘Reel Preview Page.’
Step 2: You can either select a frame of your Reel by scrubbing through your video and stopping at the frame you want or you can add a custom cover photo by choosing the ‘Add From Camera Roll’ option.
Step 3: Once you’ve selected the image you want as your cover photo, you need to align it to make sure it fits perfectly in your profile grid.
Trends are constantly changing and it can be hard to keep up. Adding music to your Reels is not only a great way to make them more engaging, but it can actually be a huge help when you’re stuck on ideas–because you can actually build the theme of your Reel around the song.
To find current trends, you can:
- Peruse the explore page
- Scroll through Reels (and keep an ear out for recurring audios)
- Look for the tiny arrow symbol next to the music (this indicates trending audio)
- Have a snoop around on TikTok – yes, trending sounds typically start on TikTok.
- Check out trending Reels and TikTok playlists on Spotify
Or, if you want to save time scrolling through videos trying to find what’s trending, you can also hop on over to where we give you a step-by-step walkthrough of Trending Reels Sounds to use for your brand.
Available to Business and Creator accounts only (like all of Instagram’s insights), Reels Insights will help you keep doing more of what’s working, or re-shape your strategy.
With Reels insights you can see metrics such as:
- Accounts Reached: How many unique accounts watched your Reel at least once
- Plays: The total number of times your Reel was watched, including replays
- Likes: How many unique accounts double-tapped and liked your post
- Comments: The number of comments on your Reel
- Saves: The number of times someone tapped the bookmark icon and added your Reel to a collection
- Shares: The number of times a user shared your Reel to their Instagram Story or sent it to another user via DM
The quickest and easiest way to view your Reels Insights is to go to a Reel and tap on ‘View Insights’. You’ll find this option on your Feed grid as well as the Reels section on your profile.
The Reels algorithm is all about suggesting content it thinks you’ll find entertaining. For the most part, you’ll see videos from accounts you don’t follow, but you’ve shown interest in the topic or the sound.
The more likely the algorithm thinks you’ll watch the video all the way through, like it, comment, save, share, or visit the audio page — the higher up it will appear on your Reels feed.
Here are some factors the Reels algorithm looks at:
User activity: What Reels has the person liked, commented on, and engaged with recently? This tells Instagram what is and what isn’t relevant to you.
Interaction history: Have you engaged with this user’s Reels in the past? Even if you don’t follow the account, if you’ve liked, commented, or watched a Reel of theirs on repeat – you’ll most likely see them again in your Feed.
Information on the Reel: What audio track was used, and is it trending? How popular is the Reel? What is the Reel about?
Information about the poster: How compelling do other people find their content? If you have lots of Reels going viral, that tells Instagram people love your content, and it will share more of it to keep users engaged.
It’s also useful to know what Reels algorithm doesn’t love. This includes low-res videos, watermarked content (hello TikTok), political or explicit content.
Nothing to film: there’s always something! Find BTS of your company, show a product you sell, can’t be afraid to show your face, jump on trends
Don’t forget that Plann also has trending sounds each week to help you with this.
Ready for a dose of inspo? Here are some brands killing it on Instagram Reels right now. Check out what they’re doing and see how you can replicate it, so that you don’t have to spend hours on the content idea generation and creation hamster wheel!
Nike averages 4.6 million views per Reel! Nike’s best performing Reel has over 6.7 million views, with its worst performer so far accruing a (still very impressive) 3.4 million views.
Nike is just one of many household fashion brands leveraging Instagram Reels to pull in viewers, with Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Chanel also pulling in 1M+ views on their videos. Check out the brand’s Reels for content ideas here!
The beauty brand is nailing Reels and affiliate marketing. They are getting millions of eyes on their products by collaborating with top influencers and bloggers to create fun how-tos and tutorials. Watch them here.
Ummmm food videos are PERFECT for Instagram Reels — they are seriously addictive to watch! Quick recipe bites make for seriously drool worthy content. Are you nom nomming any of these accounts? If not, you should be! Check out Food52’s Instagram Reel here!
The Inspired Unemployed
Just because Instagram Reels can mean massive growth doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it! In fact, the more raw and real your vids are the more engagement they can get. Check out The Inspired Unemployed to get lolling.
NBA teams and Premier League teams (yes, you read that right!) are also making great use of Reels to produce unique content from player interviews, to match highlights.
The content ideas for brands are endless! Businesses leveraging the power of Reels to increase engagement and brand awareness; position themselves as a forward-thinking brand that understands the potential and power of short-form video. You want to be amongst it!
Whether you film all of your Instagram Reels content in one day or want to batch schedule your Reels in advance to auto post at a time of your choosing, you’ll find planning your Reels content is easier than ever with Plann.
By creating a Reels strategy, planning out your content, and scheduling Reels, Plann’s Reels auto posting and planning tool features can help you maintain brand consistency and make sure you never forget to post engaging content regularly and miss out on viral growth!
And yes, we definitely recommend re-purposing your Instagram Reels to TikTok, too!