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Last Updated on
January 11, 2024

How to Use Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is a popular feature that allows users to create short, engaging videos set to music or other sounds. With its rapid growth and increasing popularity, it's essential to understand how to create and share high-quality Reels to grow your following and expand your reach.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about using Instagram Reels, from understanding the feature to creating, sharing, and analyzing your content. Let's dive in!

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Understanding Instagram Reels

Before we start making Reels, it's essential to understand what they are and how they differ from Instagram Stories.

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are short, 15-60 second videos that you can create and share on the platform. They can be set to music, and you can add various effects or transitions to make them more engaging. Reels appear both in users' feeds and in a dedicated Reels tab, making it easy for others to discover your content.

This feature is Instagram's response to the popularity of apps like TikTok, where users create and share short-form video content set to music or other sounds. Instagram Reels is designed to help users create entertaining and engaging content in a similar style.

The difference between Reels and Stories

While both Instagram Reels and Stories involve short-form video content, there are some key differences between the two. Reels are focused on entertainment and discovery, allowing users to create videos set to music, sounds, or voiceovers with added effects and transitions. They also have a separate tab dedicated to displaying popular and trending Reels, allowing your content to potentially reach a wider audience.

On the other hand, Instagram Stories are mainly used to share daily life updates and behind-the-scenes content. They disappear after 24 hours (unless saved in Highlights) and do not have the same widespread discovery features as Reels. Additionally, Stories do not provide the same editing tools and options as Reels, such as music and effects.

Setting up Your Instagram Reels

Now that you understand what Instagram Reels are, let's discuss how to set up and access this feature on your account.

Updating your Instagram app

First, ensure that you're using the latest version of the Instagram app. New features like Reels are often rolled out with app updates and may not be available if your app is outdated. Visit your device's app store and check for any available Instagram updates.

Accessing the Instagram Reels feature

Once your app is up to date, you can access the Reels feature from the home screen. Tap the camera icon in the top-left corner, then swipe to the Reels option at the bottom of the screen.

Alternatively, you can access the Reels feature from the Instagram Explore tab by tapping the Reels icon at the top of the page. This will also allow you to view popular and trending Reels from other users.

Creating Your First Instagram Reel

person taking photo of city during night time

Now that you have everything set up, it's time to create your first Reel. Let's discuss choosing your content, recording your video, and adding music and effects, step by step.

Step 1: Choosing your video content

Start by deciding what you want your Reel to showcase. This could be a behind-the-scenes look at your life or business, a tutorial, or a fun, entertaining video that shows off your creativity. Consider your target audience and what type of content they would find engaging and valuable. Then decide if you're going to use pre-recorded video uploads or record one in the Instagram app.

FAQ: What is the preferred aspect ratio for Instagram Reels?

The ideal aspect ratio for Instagram Reels is 9:16 (vertical). This will ensure that your video looks great when viewed on any device, from smartphones to tablets and laptops. It’s also good practice to keep all of your Instagram Reels consistent in terms of aspect ratio.

Step 2: Recording and editing your Reel

Once you've chosen your content, you're ready to start recording. Tap and hold the record button to record your Reel, and release it to stop recording. You can record multiple clips, and Instagram will automatically stitch them together. If you prefer to upload a pre-recorded video, tap the gallery icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen and select the video clip you want to use.

After recording your video, you can edit the clips within the app. Instagram offers several editing tools, including trimming, aligning, and adding transitions between clips. Experiment with these tools to create a polished and seamless Reel.

Step 3: Adding music and effects

To add music to your Reel, tap the music note icon on the left side of the screen. Search for the song you want to use and select the section of the track you'd like to play in your Reel. You can also add voiceovers or use other sounds from the Instagram library.

Enhance your Reel further by adding effects, such as text, stickers, or filters. Tap the icons on the left side of the screen to access these features and customize your Reel to make it more engaging and visually appealing.

FAQ: Can you add original audio to your Instagram Reel?

Yes! Instagram Reels allows you to add original audio, either from your own library or from the music library it provides. To add audio to your Instagram Reel, simply click on the “Audio” button at the bottom of your editing screen. You can then search for and select a song from the provided library, or upload your own audio clip. Once you have chosen an audio

Step 4: Pick a cover photo

Creating a great cover photo for your Instagram Reel is key to ensuring that people take notice of your video. A good cover photo should be eye-catching and represent the content in your reel without giving away everything. Here are some simple steps for creating a cover photo for your Instagram Reel:

  1. Choose an Eye-Catching Image: A successful cover photo should be visually appealing and draw the viewer in. Consider using a bright and vibrant color palette, interesting angles, or compelling subject matter. Think about what would make someone stop scrolling through their feed and pause to watch your video.
  2. Keep It Simple: Keep your cover photo simple so that it doesn’t overpower the rest of your reel or detract from the content. Stick to one main image or use a few simple elements that complement each other.
  3. Use Branding Elements: Use your reel cover photo to reinforce your branding. Incorporate graphics, logos, or typefaces that are connected to your business. This will make your reel instantly recognizable and help emphasize your message.

Tips for Making Engaging Instagram Reels

Creating successful Reels requires more than just recording and editing videos. Here are some tips to help you make Instagram Reels that stand out and engage your audience.

Utilizing trending sounds and hashtags

Stay updated on trending sounds and hashtags within the Instagram community. Incorporating these into your Reels can increase the likelihood of your content being discovered by new users.

To find trending sounds, tap the music note icon while creating a new Reel and explore the "For You" section and select your favorite audio clip. For popular hashtags, browse the Instagram Explore tab or search for keywords related to your niche.

Experimenting with creative transitions

Use creative transitions to connect multiple clips and make your Reel more visually captivating. Experiment with different techniques, such as match cuts, jump cuts, and in-camera transitions. You can also use Instagram's built-in effects to apply smooth transitions between clips, ensuring your Reel flows seamlessly from start to finish.

Collaborating with other users

Consider collaborating with other Instagram users to expand your reach and showcase different perspectives. Collaborations can involve creating joint Reels, responding to each other's content, or sharing each other's posts on your Stories. Partnering with other active users can help you tap into new audiences and increase your overall exposure on the platform.

7 Content Ideas for Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is a great way to create and share fun, creative content with your followers. Here are 7 content ideas to get you started:

  1. Tutorials – Show off a new skill or demonstrate how to use a product.
  2. Challenges – Invite your followers to join in on a challenge like
  3. Reaction Video -- With reaction videos, you can record yourself reacting to something that’s happening in real-time or give your thoughts on a recent news story or trend. You can also use this type of content to share your thoughts on particular products or services.
  4. Music Videos -- Whether you’re covering a favorite song or creating an original one, music videos provide a great way to showcase your talents and have some fun.
  5. Pranks – Show off your sense of humor with a prank video or two. You can also collaborate with others to create pranks that involve multiple people.
  6. Behind-the-Scenes -- Give your followers a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes of your life. Showcase how you prepare for events, work on projects, and interact with colleagues and family members.
  7. Q&A or AMA (Ask Me Anything) – Invite followers to ask you questions about anything they want, from lifestyle tips to product recommendations.

Sharing and Promoting Your Instagram Reels

Once you've created your Reel, it's time to share and promote it. Let's discuss how to post your Reel and engage with your audience to boost its visibility.

Posting your Reel to your feed and profile

When you're ready to share your Reel, tap the ">|" icon on the bottom-right corner of the screen. This will bring you to the share screen, where you can add a caption, hashtags, and select a cover image. Make sure to toggle the "Share to Feed" option if you want your Reel to appear in your followers' feeds and be visible on your profile grid. Once you've finished, tap the "Share" button.

Sharing your Reel to your Stories

Besides posting your Reel to your feed and profile, consider sharing it on your Instagram Stories to give it extra visibility. To do this, find your published Reel either in the Reels tab on your profile or your regular feed, tap the three dots in the bottom-right corner, and select "Add to Your Story." This will allow your followers to view your Reel directly from your Stories, increasing the likelihood of engagement.

Engaging with your audience

Boost your Reel's visibility by actively engaging with your audience. Respond to comments on your Reel, encourage users to share your content, and build connections with your followers. The more engagement your Reel receives, the higher the chances are that it will be promoted within the Instagram algorithm, potentially reaching a wider audience.

Scheduling your Instagram Reels with Third-Party Apps

Scheduling your Instagram Reels with third-party apps is a great way to maximize the reach of your content on Instagram. Further, it allows you to create and plan ahead for an effective social media strategy. With Instagram Reels, you can curate your content and schedule it in advance to ensure that all of your posts are published when they have the most potential for engagement.

Here are MixBloom we schedule posts for our clients using our white-label dashboard, which integrates with the Buffer app. Learn more about our white-label social media services here.

Analyzing Your Instagram Reels Performance

Lastly, it's important to monitor your Reels' performance and adjust your content strategy accordingly. Let's discuss how to access your Reels insights and apply that data to improve your content and make sure you're reaching relevant audiences.

Monitoring your Reels insights

By switching to an Instagram Business or Creator account, you can access valuable insights into your Reels' performance. To view your Reels insights, go to your profile, tap the menu icon in the top-right corner, and select "Insights." From there, you can view various metrics, such as plays, likes, comments, and shares. Analyzing these numbers will help you understand what type of content resonates best with your audience.

Adjusting your content strategy based on performance

Using the insights from your Reels performance, adjust your content strategy to emphasize what works and improve what doesn't. For example, if you notice that your tutorials receive more engagement than your behind-the-scenes content, prioritize creating more tutorial-style Reels. Continually refining your strategy will help you grow your audience, increase engagement, and ultimately achieve your goals with the platform.

With these tips and guidelines, you're now prepared to start creating, sharing, and analyzing your Instagram Reels. Remember to stay up to date with trends, push your creativity, and engage with your audience to make the most of this powerful feature. Happy Reeling!

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