Over the past few years, video for marketing purposes has helped create a connection between brands and their audiences on platforms such as Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. You may have noticed though, that in 2020, this concept evolved into the creation of short-form video content, made popular by TikTok, and adopted by Instagram to make their Reels feature.
With Instagram already being a huge marketing platform for many, their Reels feature has fast become a powerful part of content strategies for all types of brands, thanks to the way they can bend to inspire, educate, entertain, or convince an audience.
What are Reels?
Instagram Reels allow you to record and edit short video clips, and add text, music, voiceovers, and/or effects, before uploading it as a Reel to your followers, and the Reels feed at large.
You can shoot all in one go within Instagram, stitch together several clips, or use footage uploaded from your video library.
Why should Reels be part of my Instagram marketing?
They get you discovered: The vertical scrolling that social media platforms have made commonplace is one of the identifying features of Reels, meaning that it isn’t just engagement from your existing audience that Reels are valuable for – they also put you in front of a wider audience, and allow you to be found by new followers organically.
They’re easily digested: Due to the way we can consume content online, our attention spans are short. Reels are quick, snappy, and each one is an opportunity to learn something new, be amused or inspired, or have a question answered – all in exchange for just a few moments of our time.
They inject personality: People buy from people, so creating Reels allows you to show aspects of your business such as you yourself, your workspace, behind the scenes footage, or sneak peeks of new products or offerings; all with the unique flavour of your personality weaved through.
They’re permanent: Unlike stories, reels stick around on your profile for as long as you want them there, and are discoverable on the Reels feed for so much longer too – we’re talking weeks as opposed to hours!
How can I use Reels for my brand?
Approaching Reel creation with the value you want to provide to your audience in mind is a good place to start.
For example, a clothing brand who have launched a new collection could create a Reel around five ways to style a certain piece. A business coach may share a journal prompt they start each week by asking themselves. A jewellery maker might show the different stages that their materials go through in order to craft their beautiful products.
If it adds context to your brand and will appeal to the people that buy from you, or work with you, you can make a Reel from it.
How do I view Reels? I need some inspiration!
To view the Reels feed, open Instagram and look for the play button on a film clapper board – it should be in the bottom panel of your regular feed page. You can also find Reels on your explore page (look for the magnifying glass). Scroll up to your heart’s content.
To see Reels made by a particular Instagram user, head to their profile and look for the same clapper board symbol.
So, how do I make a Reel?
Your first step will be to swipe right on your feed, as you would if you were going to create a Story. At the very bottom, you’ll be able to scroll across to Reels.
Navigating your editing tools
On the left-hand side you’ll see a list of editing tools to help you make your Reel, such as:
- A 15 second and 30-second timer (plus a countdown), for hands-free recording
- A music icon, allowing you to search for trending sounds and music, and pick one for your clip
- Effects, which include filters, just like the ones for Instagram stories
- The speed of your clip (handy for slow mo, or hitting the beat of the music)
Select what music you’d like to use (unless you’re recording your own audio), plus the speed of your clip and any filters you want to shoot your video with.
Choosing or recording your first clip
Much like a Story, you can create a Reel within Instagram using clips shot as you go, or using video you’ve filmed previously that you can upload (swipe up to see your library).
To shoot as you go, press and hold the record button to record your first clip, and let it go when you want the clip to end. You’ll see a countdown and progress bar at the top as you record.
Putting your Reel together
Watch, trim or discard the clip you’ve just recorded by clicking the left-hand arrow, and, once you’re happy with it, tap the one on the right. Follow this process through with all the clips you want to include.
You can then add any extra bits, like text (you can make it appear at certain points in your clip using the slider), or download it to your phone.
Tap the right-hand arrow again, and this is when you can add your caption and hashtags – these elements are still important, just like they are on your regular grid posts.
Now’s the time to upload a Reel cover from your camera roll if you have one.
Decide where you want to share your Reel
You can share to your main grid and the explore page; if you want to just share to Stories, there’s an option for that at this point too.
As well as a very useful marketing tool, Reels are fun to watch and create, and they have the potential to add some real insight into you and your brand. Head to your Reels feed for some inspiration and have a play around at making your own. If you’re stuck, here are some simple ideas to get you started.
– Before and afters.
– New-in products.
– Office/shop tour.
– Come to work with me.
– Meet the team.
– Behind the scenes.