Introducing Instagram Reels: a new way to record 15 to 30-second clips set to music on Instagram.
If Reels sounds a little familiar, you’ve likely seen the new tab take center stage on the new Instagram navigation bar. And, almost everyone is comparing Instagram Reels to TikTok!
So what is Instagram Reels, and how can you use them in your marketing strategy? Find out everything you need to know in our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Reels:
Table of Contents:
- What is Instagram Reels?
- Why is Instagram launching Reels?
- How to Create Your First Reel
- How to Use Reels for Business
- 5 Brands Successfully Using Instagram Reels
- What’s the Future of IG Reels
What is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels is a brand new way to create fun and engaging video content. Instagram’s latest video feature is available in the United States and 50 other countries.
Similar to TikTok, Instagram users can record and edit together 15 to 30-second video clips set to music and share them to their Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on a user’s profile.
With the latest app update, you can now find Instagram Reels at the forefront of Instagram — taking center stage of the new main navigation bar. This is a huge change on the app, and a significant push to have users browse and share Reels more often.
In a series of Instagram Stories from the @creators account, Instagram explained the Reels tab as a “place to watch short, fun videos, and helps your Reels get discovered by new audiences on a bigger, global stage.”
On the Reels tab, instead of only seeing Reels from accounts you follow as you scroll, you will see Reels from popular and trending accounts on Instagram.
“The tab will provide a deeply immersive Reels-experience with auto-play videos, with a creation entry point that opens directly to the Reels camera,” according to Instagram.
On top of seeing Reels on the new Reels tab, you can also find Reels on the Explore page.
While the Reels algorithm hasn’t been locked down yet, it feels similar to the TikTok For You page. It’s likely influenced by who you already follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located.
As you’re scrolling, you may notice some Reels have a “Featured” label above the caption.
According to Instagram, “If your reel is featured, you’ll receive a notification. Featured reels are a selection of public reels chosen by Instagram to help you discover original content we hope will entertain and inspire you.”
And just like TikTok, if you find a song or audio clip you like, you can tap the music and select “Use Audio”.
Take a peek at the other videos using that audio and see what’s out there. It never hurts to take inspiration and jump on a trend! Users can also select music from a huge library or use their own audio.
Note: The Instagram Reels music feature may not work for all Instagram accounts.
If you notice your account doesn’t have the music feature, don’t panic! There are ways you can work around it. Either record your own music and audio or you can edit your video outside of Instagram Reels.
On top of selecting and adding music, there are a number of handy video editing tools to explore. The option to trim and delete video clips, a video countdown timer, the option to adjust your video’s speed, and a library of video effects to choose from.
When creating a Reel, you can choose to film video clips on the spot or upload from your camera roll. Once you’re happy with the clips, you can use the draw and text tools and choose from a selection of Instagram stickers.
Want to jump into the details of Instagram Reels? Learn everything you need to know to create your very first Instagram Reel in this handy step-by-step video:
Why is Instagram Launching Reels?
If you’re thinking most of the features sound very familiar, that’s no coincidence.
Reels could be considered a direct response to the growing popularity of TikTok — which has surged in popularity over the last 12 months.
TikTok generated “the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter” in Q1 2020, according to Adweek.
And TikTok’s core demographic is rapidly changing. While once dominated by Gen-Z users, Millennials now make up a greater share of TikTok’s user base than ever before — making the platform a much more attractive proposition for advertisers.
According to recent data from Comscore, the percentage of US-based TikTok users aged between 25-34 increased from 22.4% in January to 27.4% in April, while the 18-24 year-old bracket fell from 41.1% to 35.3%.
So it’s no surprise that Instagram is making moves to replicate TikTok’s most popular features — especially in areas where TikTok hasn’t already amassed a strong foothold, like Brazil.
In fact, this isn’t the first time that Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, has attempted to launch a TikTok alternative.
Facebook previously launched a short-form standalone app Lasso, but it has failed to take off as yet.
Reels, however, could have a much higher chance of success thanks to its prime positioning in the Instagram app — and all of the exposure and familiarity that comes with it.
IGTV has found its positioning as series-based content, where audiences can tune in to each episode with their favorite brands. But, with Reels, it’s filling the gap of high-quality content that’s still informal, but has longer shelflife than 24 hours.
It’s a more dynamic and creative opportunity to showcase more of your personality and brand.
There are over 1 billion active users already on Instagram — and if we’ve learned anything from the introduction of Instagram Stories, it’s that Instagram knows how to replicate a tried-and-tested format with success.
How to Create Instagram Reels
You can access and create Instagram Reels in 3 different ways: the Instagram home screen, the Reels tab, or the Instagram Stories camera.
To access through the Reels tab, tap the camera on the top right.
To access through the Instagram home screen, tap the “+” on the top right and scroll to the Reels tab at the bottom of the screen.
We’ll walk you through the steps on how to create an Instagram Reel using the Instagram Stories camera menu.
To access it, simply open the Instagram Stories camera and find the Reels icon positioned either between the default Normal mode and Create mode or on the bottom menu next to “Story”.
From this screen, you can select your audio by tapping the music icon:
Choose the speed of your video by pressing the play icon:
Decide how long you’d like your video to be by tapping the circle with 15-seconds on the left-hand side. When you press, shuffle between 15 seconds and 30 seconds.
Once you’ve decided on your video length, you can choose how long your clips will be by selecting the stopwatch icon. When you set a timer, there’s a countdown before the recording starts. You can choose between a 3 second and 10-second countdown.
Change the countdown duration by tapping the number next to “Countdown”.
Similar to Boomerang mode, you can scroll across to apply effects or AR filters to your Instagram Reels video. You can choose to use any previously saved filters or you can scroll to the end and tap “Browse Effects”.
Either hold down the record button to capture footage or upload video footage from your camera roll.
Much like on TikTok, you can start and stop recording multiple times during your video by pressing and holding the record button.
If you want to trim or delete any of the clips you’ve filmed, tap the back arrow to the right of the record button. Press into the individual clip you want to edit. When you tap into the clip of your choice, either tap the scissors to trim and the trash to delete.
Once you’re happy with the result, you can use the draw and text tools and select from a number of Instagram Stickers.
When finished, you can edit the cover photo with a video thumbnail or add a cover from your camera roll.
Now it’s time to share your masterpiece! You can share the Reel to your Stories, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on your profile.
Check out the latest Instagram Reels tab on Instagram profiles — this is where you will see your videos and drafts and where your followers can go to find all of your published Reels.
How to Use Instagram Reels For Business
Instagram Reels is a new way to build your community and grow your reach on Instagram. It’s a fun and engaging way to share viral (and creative!) snippets with your audience.
Even in its early stages, Instagram Reels is proving to be a space where both brands and creators can make waves.
Paris-based photographer Janelle Sweeney of My Paris Portraits has only been using the feature for a few weeks now and says that she’s already started to see her engagement rise.
“I’ve been sharing spots that I typically like to photograph — classic beautiful Paris scenery — and my engagement on Reels has been surprisingly high”
If you’re already using Instagram for your business, it may be worth giving Instagram Reels a try. If TikTok’s rise to popularity is anything to go by, it could be worth getting in on the action, and quickly!
Here are three ways you can use Instagram Reels in your marketing strategy:
Instagram Reels for Business #1: Create Authentic Content that Resonates with Your Audience
When Instagram Stories entered the scene in 2016, few could have predicted just how successful the fun and informal ephemeral format would prove to be.
If Instagram Stories is anything to go off of, Reels could be even bigger.
Instagram Reels are designed to be fast and fun and are packed full of special effects that make creating captivating and authentic content seriously easy.
This offers a great opportunity for businesses to show a more human, less picture-perfect side — which can be great for building genuine relationships and strengthening community.
We spoke with Chriselle Lim (“Rich Mom” on TikTok) in our TikTok For Brands Workshop, and she explained to us how many of her Instagram followers didn’t even know she was funny until they saw her on TikTok.
You don’t have to save your personality for other apps, now you can showcase it all on your Instagram. All your followers have to do is slide on over to the new Instagram Reels tab.
And what’s even better? You’ll reach a whole new audience doing so. Your Reels will show up on users’ Reels tab and just like that, they’ll be able to tap the follow button right away.
Instagram Reels for Business #2: Share Educational Content
Posting educational content is a great place to start — give your followers your top 5 travel tips, teach them how to get the perfect photo, or show them how to style a skirt 5 ways.
Take Paris-based food studio, thesocialfood, for example. They only have a few Instagram Reels but they quickly found their niche: sharing recipes with their products. Check out below how they use Reels to highlight their artisanal hot sauce by using it in a quick recipe.
They also included the recipe in the caption and included several hashtags like #hotsauce and #reelsfood.
Instagram Reels for Business #3: Showcase Products
Instagram Reels is a huge opportunity for brands and businesses looking to drive awareness and sales from the platform.
Especially since Reels are pushed out on both the Explore page and the new Reels tab on the main navigation bar, users who don’t follow you will see your content — this is huge!
And, while we aren’t sure how the Instagram Reels algorithm works just yet, it’s a good idea to use hashtags and descriptive captions to let Instagram know what you’re talking about.
New to Reels with only two videos, Jonak Paris, a french footwear company, uses Reels to showcase their new summer collection in a fun creative way.
Looking to optimize your Instagram Stories strategy this year? Take our free 45-minute Instagram Stories course to learn how to design beautiful stories and capitalize on all the latest features.
5 Brands Successfully Using Instagram Reels
Even in its infancy, Reels is proving to be a space for relatable bite-sized content that keeps you coming back for more.
With a handful of brands and businesses already using Reels, some are already using it to successfully grow their business (and actually go viral doing so!).
#1: Sephora France
With over 300K views on each of their Reels, it seems like Sephora France has already mastered the Instagram Reels game!
Their Reels are a combination of captivating makeup tutorials, product demos, and on-brand user-generated content.
They also do a great job of encouraging conversations and engagement in the comments section — with captions like “tag a friend who you want to go shopping with” and “which color is your favorite? Comment below!”.
TIP: Repurpose video content from other platforms like Instagram Stories or TikTok for your Instagram Reels!
#2: Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton’s Reels are high quality, stunning, and super creative — and it’s working for them! Every single one of their Reels has gone viral, with an average of 5 million views.
The global fashion brand is using Instagram Reels to promote new collections. In their latest set of Reels, they’re showcasing the #LVCruise.
Each campaign Reel is very similar — all having the exact same caption just with a different model and #LVCruise bag.
#3: My Paris Portraits
Travel inspo and wanderlust locations are already popular on Instagram, and My Paris Portraits knows exactly how to capitalize on it using Instagram Reels.
In simple and short Reels, My Paris Portraits tells a story, taking her followers with her as she explores and enjoys summer in Paris.
Food videos on Instagram are satisfying and very addicting to watch — and Fastandfood is taking advantage of it!
FastandFood uses Reels to share quick bites of content — sharing high-quality food videos from restaurants all over Paris. Not only is this a great resource for their followers but it’s also an awesome opportunity for the featured restaurants to gain traction.
Fashion influencer, Junesixtyfive, uses Instagram Reels as an extension of her feed.
She keeps it super on-brand by having a strong understanding of her demographic, offering up content that appeals to her audience.
Her most popular video where she’s showcasing different outfits — a trend made popular on TikTok — already has a whopping 2.1 million views.
What’s Next for Instagram Reels
Instagram’s latest video feature is now available in the United States and 50 other countries.
So, what will the Instagram Reels mean for brands and businesses on Instagram?
When Instagram launched Instagram Stories in 2016, there were 150 million users. Now, a mere four years later, over 500 million users use stories every day. If this is any indication, it looks like Instagram Reels has a bright future ahead.
It’s a good idea to jump on Instagram Reels early while competition is still low, especially since Instagram could be giving extra prominence to get the feature off the ground.
Influencers and brands are already starting to use Reels as a way to promote products — and we think this is only the beginning! Similar to TikTok, it’s likely brands will jump on the opportunity to partner with influencers to create branded Instagram Reels.
See how French influencer Noholita showcased and tagged jewelry company Jad & Va in her Reels.
Currently, users can only use a select number of GIFs and stickers on their Reels. But, as more Instagram users get on Reels and give their feedback, we can expect to see a number of Instagram Stories’ features released for Reels, like shoppable stickers and swipe-up links.
Not only will it be a space for brands and businesses to share creative content, but it will also be an additional way for advertisers to push their products. Similarly to how advertisers can place adverts between Instagram Stories, we predict the advertising options will be quite similar.
Instagram Reels may also be another way for brands and businesses to better understand their Instagram community even further. Currently, the only analytics available for Reels are view count, likes, and comments.
But, just like on TikTok and Instagram Stories, we expect there to be in-depth analytics for Instagram Reels in the future.
Whatever your brand or business, there’s a creative opportunity waiting for you.
What do you think the future of Instagram Reels will be? Join the conversation over on Later’s Instagram profile!
Ready to get started? Level-up your Instagram strategy with Later — plan, schedule and automatically post to your feed, for free!
Jessica is a creative problem solver and a content writer. Jessica is from Winnipeg, a city smack dab in the middle of Canada — but is currently living and working remotely in Paris, France. Follow along at @jessicaworb.