If you’re on Instagram regularly, you’ve probably noticed Reels taking over your Instagram feed.
There’s a reason why: Instagram is pushing hard to beat TikTok in the race for users, so they will do whatever it takes to get Instagram users hooked on Reels!
This is actually really good news for you: if you can start using Reels frequently, your account will get a lot more exposure than it would by posting graphics and Stories alone. Reels have already been out for over a year, but a lot of marketers have waited until now to start using them. It’s not too late to get in and catch the Reels momentum!
I’ve been creating Reels for my account and several of my clients’ accounts, and have been seeing their accounts grow. Here are my best tips for getting more view and conversions:
Under 10 seconds (yes, only 10, or even less!) seems to perform best in the testing I’ve run. People have short attention spans; if you talk for too long, they’ll get bored and scroll on to the next video. The algorithm seems to favor the shorter ones as well.
People like seeing other people⎯especially personalities they recognize. The Reels where I show my face always perform better than those that don’t. If you are too shy to show your face at first, take a baby step and show the making of your product, behind-the-scenes shots, or create a short Reel with graphics in Canva.
Ask a question about something in your industry that people have been talking about, and then let them know they can get all the details in the caption.
Try outfit changes, character changes (where you play more than one person), or use special transition effects found under the Effects icon. Any type of movement, especially something that’s unexpected, will help stop the scroll and get your audience’s attention.
Instagram really likes giving reach to videos that feature trending audio. You’ll find the audio options at the bottom left on your phone screen in Reels. Look for a little arrow pointing up⎯that tells you that audio clip is on the rise! You can easily save the audio to use later by tapping on it, then hitting Save Audio. Or you can tap the Use Audio button to create a Reel immediately with that sound. When you’re on the Save Audio page, you’ll see all the other Reels created with that sound or song. It can be fun to scroll through those to gather ideas for your own Reel.
Make sure the title is viewable on your profile and in the feed so people know what your Reel is about. For instance, a text title might be, “5 Tips for Plant-Based Eating,” and then you’d show the tips in your Reel. Instagram provides blue guides that tell you the boundaries of where to put text on the screen. You’ll see the guides when you move the text to a certain point on the screen. Keep within those guides to make sure your text isn’t cut off or covered by the main caption or other buttons.
Make sure captions and hashtags apply to the content in the video and/or the purpose of your overall account. One thing you need to keep in mind is that when people are scrolling through Reels, they don’t often take the time to stop and read captions. I like to keep the messages in my Reels short and to the point to grab attention, but I also do longer posts in carousels or other types of posts. You are allowed to use up to 30 hashtags on Reels. Try to use words or phrases that are very focused on what your Reel is about. Also try to think about what a prospective client might search for and use that as a hashtag.
This helps people understand your Reel if they’re watching it silently. Many people watch Reels with the sound off. You can use Instagram’s closed-captioning feature by tapping the Sticker icon (square with a smiley face) and choosing Captions. Instagram will then provide words on the screen that match what you are saying. The text overlay is done by tapping the Aa, then typing a title, message, or whatever you’d like on the screen. You can also time the text to appear at different points within your Reel.
…but don’t give away too much information if you are trying to sell a product with that info later! People are starting to search Instagram for marketing advice, recipes, diet tips, and so much more. Use your knowledge to help educate your audience while showcasing your expertise.
Don’t be afraid to be a little silly or show your humor. These are often the Reels that get the most engagement. But if you don’t like to dance or point at words on the screen, that’s OK; it’s not necessary to do those things to be successful with Reels!
I hope you give Reels a try. They can be a little daunting at first, but once you practice being on camera and get comfortable with how all of the features work, they’re lots of fun!
Corey C. Walker @coreycwalker
Corey C. Walker is the co-author of Instagram for Dummies, and Instagram for Business for Dummies, a how-to guide for using Instagram to market your business. She is also the owner of The Marketing Specialist, a digital marketing agency in El Dorado Hills, California.
Want to learn the ins and out of creating a Reel from start to finish? Corey’s eBook, “How to Create Reels That Convert” goes through the process step-by-step, and gives her tips for adding text in the right spot, finding trending audio, and more! Find the eBook here.