Instagram Reels in 2024: The Definitive Guide for Marketers

While Instagram started as a photo-sharing site, the platform (like many others) has evolved to focus on video content. Today, Instagram Reels run the show.

After TikTok’s rise to popularity, many other social networks realized they needed to put video content front and center to keep users engaged. Reels were Instagram’s answer to this consumer need. These (typically) short, vertical videos reinvented the platform to give viewers what they wanted.

Here, we’ll walk through Reels on Instagram, the difference between Reels and other content types, and how you can make the most of video content on the platform.

What Is a Reel on Instagram?

Instagram Reels are short-form videos. Designed to be easily consumed and shared, they can be entertaining, educational, or both! Much like TikToks, Reels enable users to start or follow trends that can become viral as more users participate in trends, including those related to popular sounds and hashtags.

Different Instagram marketing ad placements have different video ad specs and sizes. If you plan to use Instagram Reels to grow your brand, make sure to use the correct dimensions for maximum video quality.

Related: Instagram Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

What’s the Difference Between Stories and Reels?

Instagram Stories are photos and videos that, as the platform explains it, “appear together in a slideshow format.” They are shown in their familiar circular spots at the top of your Home feed. Stories tend to be more authentic and less produced than Reels, and they automatically disappear after 24 hours (unless you save them to your profile Highlights). 

Reels, on the other hand, appear throughout the entire platform. The videos you see constantly change, depending on the kind of content you engage with through comments, likes, and shares. They may be a mix of clips from standup comedians you like, influencers you follow, and genres of content you have liked or viewed before — say, art history, home fix-it hacks, and smoothie recipes. 

Reels are usually edited with music and sound effects, with the aim of scoring likes, shares, and comments from followers and strangers alike. 

What Is the Difference Between Reels and Posts?

Posts are the old-fashioned photos in your Instagram grid you posted for the world to see and like. These also include carousel posts, which can include up to 10 images per post. You can easily add filters and tags to your posts. 

In contrast, Reels are the videos shared on the platform. While Reels and traditional video posts used to be separate, they have merged together over the last couple of years. Now, all videos posted to the platform (except for those on Stories and Live videos) are considered Reels. 

How Does the Instagram Reels Algorithm Work?

The Instagram Reels algorithm ranks the content on the platform according to your previous interactions and delivers the kind of content you’ll likely be interested in watching, giving you an enjoyable and personalized experience. 

The algorithm continuously refines your feed as it gathers more data on what you like and dislike. For example, if you constantly view, like, or comment on Reels about dogs, the algorithm will see this as a pattern and will most likely suggest more dog-related Reels to you. 

Though they share the same name, there are some differences between Instagram and Facebook Reels. For example, Instagram and Facebook Reels have separate like counts and comments, which means they won’t carry over to the other platform. Additionally, Instagram doesn’t allow you to select audience segments, while Facebook does. 

Are Reels Better Than Posts?

That depends. 

Posts and Reels are both effective marketing tools, but it depends on the platform’s priorities at the time. For example, shortly after TikTok’s rapid growth, Instagram went all-in on different types of video content, specifically Reels. Now, however, they are eager to get more posts back into the mix since users have requested the standard features again. 

Reels may be a better option for capturing the attention of your existing followers or even new audiences. It’s also relatively easier to make your pitch to an audience via the dynamic medium of video, complete with captions and scores. Plus, Reels can show up on the Reels feed for people who don’t follow you, while posts typically only show up for your existing followers. 

So while it may be extreme to call one better than the other, Reels’ entertainment value and shareability make them an important tool in your marketing arsenal — as long as you can deliver on the promise of creative storytelling.

How To Make a Reel on Instagram

Making Reels on Instagram calls for strategic planning, creativity, and a bit of technical know-how. 

Step #1: Brainstorm Ideas

Perhaps the most important part of the process is building the concept. Aim to creatively tell a story that’s relevant to your audience and aligns with your brand voice. 

Step #2: Plan Production

Plan your production process down to the last detail to avoid wasting your marketing budget. Think about what would appeal to your audience — from the choice of location and talent to the use of graphics and music.

Step #3: Shoot Your Reel

You don’t need expensive gadgets to shoot a Reel. Phone quality should be fine, since most users access Instagram through the app. There are different ways to shoot a Reel within the Instagram app: 

  • Within the Reels tab, you can press the camera icon to start recording. 
  • From the IG home feed, tap the “+” icon at the bottom of your screen, then tap “Reel” and start recording. 
  • You can also create a Reel from the Stories tab. Just tap Your Story, choose Camera, then Reel, and record your video by tapping the record button (which is a white circle at the bottom center).

You can also shoot your Reel through your phone’s camera and upload it to Instagram. 

Step #4: Add Sound to Your Reel

Thankfully, adding audio to your Reel is fairly simple! Instagram will give you a list of approved songs to choose from. Just tap the Audio icon, showcased through musical notes, on the Reel screen and scroll through Instagram’s music list until you find the right sound for your video production

As long as you’ve followed through with planning your production, this step should be as simple as searching for and selecting the audio you’ve already chosen.

Step #5: Edit and Add Extras

Editing a Reel can be fairly simple, too. You can look at your clips like a storyboard and reorder them as you like. You can also add voiceover by tapping Preview, then Voiceover. Tap the record button to record audio over the video, then tap Done once you’re finished.

Like Stories, you can also add stickers and captions to your Reels. You can be as elaborate as you like, but remember: simple, catchy videos can be memorable, too! Instagram has some tips for improving the quality of your Reel through recording and editing here

How To Post a Reel on Instagram

After recording your Reel and finalizing your edits, you can now post your reel. Posting a Reel is simple, as you’ll be able to see in the following steps: 

Step #1: Finalize Your Video

Once you’ve uploaded your video, make sure everything is how you want it to be, including the video, effects, and sounds. 

Step #2: Double-Check the Details

Once you’ve finalized your video, you’ll want to press “Next” in the bottom right corner of the screen. Then you can tag any relevant people in your video, as well as add a caption and hashtag. 

In this step, you can also choose whether you want to cross-post your Reel to Facebook or just share it on Instagram. 

Step #3: Share Your Reel

At the bottom of this screen, you’ll see two buttons. One allows you to save the video to your drafts, and the other shares your video to the platform. Once you press share, you’ve successfully sent your Reel into the world. 

Related: When Is the Best Time to Post on Instagram?

5 Tips for Viral Instagram Reels

Here are some tips to make your Instagram Reel go viral and get maximum reach. 

Tip #1: Keep Up and Utilize With Trends

Trending topics, music, effects, and styles change rapidly, so you’ll need to stay on top of them. Observe content from other makers, draw inspiration from them, and mix it with your original ideas. 

This shows your audience that you’re paying attention to the social media landscape while still providing them with a unique story only your brand can tell. 

Tip #2: Use Humor and Other Emotions

Emotions are a key factor when it comes to shareability. One of the most effective emotions to utilize is humor since many social media users are looking for entertainment. Consider how your brand can incorporate humor into your content in an authentic way.

Tip #3: Hook the Audience

There’s a ton of content to consume, so make sure you grab your audience’s attention from the start of your video. If you save your hook or interesting information for the middle of the video, a significant amount of viewers won’t even see it. 

Tip #4: Use Music and Effects 

It’s important to strike a balance between simplicity and visual appeal. While we’d love to tell you there’s an exact science, it varies for every business. You’ll want to test different styles and sounds to find what your audience likes and dislikes. 

Tip #5: Use Relatable or Enjoyable Talent

When you’re marketing your product or service, choose a talent that’s relatable, experienced in being in front of the camera, expressive, and flexible. Similar to music and effects, your audience might respond best to some talent compared to others, so be sure to test multiple actors in your video marketing

Make Instagram Videos at Scale

It takes a lot of skill and creativity to create quality Instagram video content and break through the noise — but you don’t have to manage it alone. 

Partnering with QuickFrame for your video needs makes creating Instagram videos at scale easy. We connect you with global video makers and production teams who understand the demands of social media and are ready to create high-quality, engaging videos for your brand. 

Contact us today to learn more about Instagram video production.

Instagram Reels: Final Thoughts

Video used to be a nice-to-have addition, but it’s now vital in your social media strategy. On Instagram, your brand can utilize Reels to build an organic social media presence, advertise your business, and connect with current and potential customers. 

While Instagram Reels shouldn’t be the only type of content you post, you need to ensure your Instagram video marketing strategy includes an effective plan for these popular short-form videos. 

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