How To Make a Reel on Instagram: Step-By-Step Guide

Since its introduction in 2020, Instagram Reels has been essential to social media. The Reels feature is the platform’s fastest-growing, surpassing the Stories feature in early 2022. But Instagram Reels can seem daunting for a marketing team that doesn’t know where to start, especially if they’re new to video content in general. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

Here, we’ll explore how to make an Instagram Reel that will engage and inspire your audience.

What Are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a short-form video feature in the Instagram app that allows users to create clips set to music or other audio. It’s a platform for storytelling, sharing tips, creating quick how-to guides, and promoting goods and services. Instagram Reels can be up to 90 seconds long and are an essential part of the platform. 

How Does the Instagram Reels Algorithm Work?

Before you post a Reel to Instagram, you should know how the Instagram algorithm works. Instagram is more likely to show users your Reel if:

  • They’ve liked or commented on similar posts. 
  • They’ve interacted with your account before.
  • The information in your caption relates to the user’s interests.
  • Your content is generally popular, and users enjoy interacting with it.

To make sure your audience can see your posts, your Reels on Instagram must meet these algorithms’ objectives. You don’t want to just yell into the social media void, so following best practices can help you reach people more effectively. 

Step #1: Define Your Strategy

Before you execute your plan to grow your business through Instagram, you’ll need a roadmap for how you’ll get there.

Understand Your Audience

Tailor your content to resonate with your target audience by researching information about that audience. For example, you’ll need to know their: 

  • Interests and preferences. What content do they already follow and engage with?
  • Challenges and pain points. How can your Reels offer insights, tips, and solutions to their challenges?
  • Buying behavior. Are they impulsive or thoughtful when they make purchases? Knowing this helps inform the tone and message of your Reels.
  • Preferred content. Do they prefer educational videos, entertaining clips, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or inspirational stories?

Let your audience’s behavior, feedback, and engagement shape your strategy. Keep in mind that this will change over time, so leave room for optimization in your social media plan. 

Create a Consistent Posting Schedule 

When your audience enjoys and engages with your Reels, they want to know more is coming. Of course, you don’t want to cut quality in favor of quantity, but the timing and regularity of your posts play an equally crucial role in successful Instagram video marketing

By consistently delivering valuable content, you establish credibility with your audience, which builds trust. This trust carries over into your brand’s reputation and reminds your audience that your business delivers. Plus, having a consistent posting schedule helps increase audience engagement.  

Follow Your Brand

Plan content consistent with the brand you’ve already built. Your Reels should seamlessly align with your business’s values, tone, and aesthetics. Consistency in visuals, messaging, and overall vibe ensures that your content is easily recognizable as belonging to your brand. 

Staying true to your brand essence enhances your Reels’ impact and reinforces the identity you’ve established in the minds of your followers. Examples include the use of specific colors, your logo, and a consistent voice and tone. 

Step #2: Shoot Your Footage

Now that you know what you want, here’s how to get the best version of your Instagram Reel.

Plan Ahead

Shooting an Instagram Reel is more than just showing up with a camera — a lot goes into the video production process. No matter how long or short, you’re telling a story with video. You’ll need to consider the video’s concept, storyline, and visuals during the entire process.

Outline a clear storyboard to ensure your Reel flows smoothly, scout locations where you’ll shoot, and decide on props and other equipment you’ll need while shooting. 

Invest in Quality Filming Equipment

While smartphone cameras can capture decent footage, professional-grade equipment like cameras, stabilizers, and external microphones can elevate your content’s visual and audio quality. If professional cameras and sound equipment seem a little pricey, especially considering you have to learn how to use them, consider hiring video content professionals to create Reels for you. This attention to quality reflects positively on your brand and can set your Reels apart from the competition.

Use Your Time Wisely

Users are on the move when scrolling through Instagram, and you only have a few seconds to capture their attention. If you want them to stop, take notice, and keep watching your Instagram Reels all the way through, follow these tips to grab their attention in the first few seconds:  

  • Pose a question that applies to them.
  • Begin with a visually striking image.
  • Identify a common problem or pain point at the beginning.
  • Use multiple clips, and don’t stay on one clip for too long.
  • Take a trend and make it your own.
  • Start with a glimpse of the end result, then work backward to show how you got there.

Step #3: Edit Your Instagram Reel

When it comes to video marketing on Instagram, you’ll need to edit your videos. This gives them a more polished and professional look on the platform. Even UGC, which is natural and authentic by nature, should be edited to a certain degree. If your video is low-quality, it might give viewers a negative impression of your brand. 

Use Trending Audio

Using trending audio in Instagram Reels significantly enhances the visibility and engagement of your content. Trending audio can refer to popular music tracks, viral soundbites, or even popular ASMR sounds.

But if Instagram trends constantly change, how can you know what’s trending? There are many ways to discover what’s currently trending on Instagram. For example, music platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube offer regularly updated playlists of trending Instagram songs. Additionally, Instagram itself offers directions on how to discover popular audio on the platform. Keep your ear to the ground, and you’ll hear what audiences are listening to. 

Edit With External Apps or Software

Editing Instagram Reels is essential for success on the platform. With external editing software, you can drop a single video file right into the app, and it’s ready to go. Popular editing apps like InShot, Adobe Premiere Rush, and Splice can help you take the quality of your Instagram Reels to a higher level by:

  • Offering advanced editing capabilities like speed adjustments, dynamic transition styles, and multi-track audio layering
  • Generating higher-quality output 
  • Providing more precise control in fine-tuning each cut in the editing process
  • Giving you flexibility with formats so you can upload your footage across all platforms

You can also make edits within the Instagram platform. You’ll need to test out different testing options to see what works best for your marketing team. 

Keep Your Content Concise 

Posting Reels of the optimal length on Instagram is a strategic choice that can significantly impact the engagement and effectiveness of your content. Though you can upload Instagram Reels up to 90 seconds, the best length for maximum attention is usually shorter. In general, ideal lengths are:

  • Seven to 15 seconds for the majority of Reels, like travel destinations and product highlights
  • 30 to 60 seconds for Reels that offer more information like recipes
  • 90 seconds for content-rich posts like deep dives into how to use products properly

The most important consideration when determining Instagram Reel lengths is your audience’s engagement level. Observe which Reels your audience engages with most, and tailor your Reel lengths accordingly. 

Learn more about Instagram video length requirements for all formats.

Step #4: Finalize and Post Reel

Now it’s time to put your Reel out there for your audience to see. But first, take these steps to increase visibility.  

Optimize Your Caption With Keywords and Hashtags 

Keywords and hashtags are the two main ways people search for relevant content, so pay close attention to these when posting your Reel. 

Search engine optimization — SEO — is incorporating relevant keywords into your caption to improve your Reel’s searchability. In addition to analyzing your Reel’s video and audio, the Instagram algorithm uses caption content to determine who will find your Reel relevant. 

For example, if you’re a clothing company showing off your new line, a caption like, “Fall fashion trends we’re loving right now!” will increase the likelihood of your target audience finding your post. This is because you’re including keywords that they’re searching for, like:

  • Fashion
  • Fashion trends
  • Fall fashion (assuming it’s currently fall) 

Hashtags are equally important. One easy way to find popular hashtags is through the Instagram search bar. Begin with a relevant word, like fashion in the example above. If you search for that word in the hashtags section, a list of other relevant hashtags will appear in order of popularity and how many posts use that hashtag. 

Add a Location Tag

Using a location tag in your Instagram Reels offers benefits like localized discovery, community connection, and event promotion. It also enhances local SEO, making reaching your target audience in a specific area easier. This helps:

  • Promote location-specific events
  • Connect you to the community
  • Reach visitors to the area who are searching for travel inspiration
  • Differentiate your Reel from similar content 

Post to Your Story

Some of Instagram’s users prefer to consume content through Instagram Stories, and you don’t want to miss out on them. Posting your Reel to Stories extends the visibility of your content beyond its initial appearance on your profile’s main feed and reinforces your brand presence on Instagram. 

Adding your Reel to your story also lets you tap into interactive features like polls, questions, and quizzes. These interactive elements can foster direct engagement with your audience and boost your standing in the algorithm. 

5 Tips for Viral Instagram Reels

Okay, so you know how it all works now — but how do you actually achieve video marketing success with your Reels? Start with these five tips. 

Tip #1: Post at the Most Effective Times

The rumors are true: there are best times to post to Instagram. These times differ daily and can vary based on your industry and specific audience, but overall, each day has a few ideal times to post.  Posting at the right time increases your visibility and chances of audience engagement.

To discover the best time for your brand to post, begin with the best overall times and track your engagement. Switch up your post times, and track when your posts receive the most engagement. As you discover when your audience is watching and engaging with your content, narrow the time frame down for each day. 

Tip #2: Optimize Your Content 

Optimizing your content means putting Instagram Reels out there that your audience wants to see. You can do this by testing your content over time through A/B and multivariate testing.

These two methods test different content to understand what your audience prefers to see. A/B testing does this by distinguishing which of two versions of your content your target audience prefers — version A or B. Multivariate testing goes deeper to help you understand precisely which content elements resonate with your audience. 

Optimizing your content also means you don’t want to put the same exact content on every platform. Instead, repurpose your content to take advantage of each platform’s unique features. This may include changing on-screen text, voiceovers, music, or animations to create similar but unique content for each platform. 

Tip #3: Use the Right Instagram Video Ad Specs

Ad specs refer to the file size, resolution, aspect ratio, and other specifics about your Reel that are required when posting to Instagram. Instagram video ad specs vary based on the feature you’re using — Reels, Stories, or Feed. For Reels, the ad specs are:

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • Min/Max resolution: Minimum resolution is minimum resolution of 720 pixels, with no max resolution
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Video length: Up to 90 seconds
  • Frame rate: 30 fps
  • Recommended file type: .mp4 or .mov

Using the right social media video ad specs when posting your Reel will ensure it looks its best when presented to users. Learn more about the Instagram reel size.

Tip #4: Engage With Your Audience

You’ve heard it repeatedly — engagement drives the Instagram algorithm. Engagement is a two-way street. If you’re engaging with your audience by liking their comments and responding, then you’re encouraging them to continue engaging with future posts. Their further engagement puts your Instagram Reel in front of others and drives their engagement. And on and on and on. 

So, if you want to learn how to post a Reel on Instagram like a pro, you should also know that responding to your audience is vital to success. 

Tip #5: Allow Sharing

Enabling sharing when posting an Instagram Reel extends the potential reach of your content beyond your immediate audience. Sharing harnesses the power of user-generated distribution by allowing viewers to share your Reel on their profiles or with friends and amplify its exposure.

Make Instagram Videos at Scale

Brands that use social media platforms allow themselves to grow a network beyond their immediate reach and access consumers globally. But with so many platforms and features, it can be challenging to keep up with content demand and run your business. But you don’t have to do it alone. 

At QuickFrame, we connect you with global video makers and production teams who are ready to make the custom videos you need to succeed on social media (and beyond). No matter your industry or objective, our team can help you access remarkable video content that engages your target audience and grows your brand. 

Check out our Instagram video production services to learn more. 

Instagram Reels: Final Thoughts

Instagram Reels offers makers an exciting opportunity to showcase their talent, entertain their audience, and potentially go viral. By understanding the platform’s algorithm and top video marketing trends, defining a strategic approach, capturing captivating footage, and leveraging editing techniques, you can create Reels that enthrall your target audience and grow your brand through effective video marketing. 

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