Instagram Reels: What are they? How do you use them? Here’s everything you need to know!

Instagram have released a new feature: Reels, their take on the short video posts that have made apps like TikTok so successful. But what exactly is a Reel, how do you use one and how does it differ from an Instagram story or IGTV? Well, don’t worry, we’re here to give you all the answers.

What are Instagram Reels?

According to Instagram: Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. Record and edit 15 second multi clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools.

So… basically… TikTok but on Instagram. Whether you’re familiar with TikTok or not doesn’t matter, we’ve included a handy step by step guide to help you create and post your first Reel.

How to make one?

  1. Open the Instagram app, currently, this function is only available within the mobile app and not the desktop.
  2. Open the Instagram Story function in the top left-hand corner of the feed or swipe to the right to access the Story area.
  3. At the bottom of the screen below the record button there are a number of options, Live, Story and Reels. Swipe the screen to the left or tap on the word to access the Reels creation panel.
  4. Tap the video record button to start recording your Reel, you can start and stop or choose pre-recorded clips from your camera roll which can be accessed via a box in the left-hand corner of the screen.
  5. Once you’ve recorded your clips, you’ll see some options on the left-hand side, these allow you to change the speed of your clips, add effects and audio and more using the in-app library. At the moment, different levels of account have access to different amounts of effects and audio – but generally speaking, there are a fair few there for you to get your creative juices flowing.
  6. When you’re ready to preview your Reel, click the arrow button on the right where you’ll be shown what you’ve done so far. At this stage, you can add text and stickers etc much like in an Instagram Story. Once you’re happy with it, press the arrow again to progress to the posting screen.
  7. Now you are given the option to pick a cover image, which will be the first thing your viewers will see when they are looking at Reels. You can also add a caption, these don’t need to be as long as on your regular posts. At the moment, Instagram hasn’t offered any guidance about hashtags, but they can’t hurt, so add as many as 30 of them to your post!
  8. And you’re ready to share!

Should Reels be part of my social strategy?

As this is a new feature, we can’t say for certain whether it will be hugely popular or not, but there are benefits to jumping on the bandwagon at this stage. The market is less saturated at the moment, which means you can be spotted more easily! Plus having the whole of Instagram’s audience at your fingertips before other brands give you a huge potential customer market!

If you find that Instagram works particularly well for your brand already, using Reels is just another way to be creative and make a mark. If you’re looking to engage a younger demographic, short-form video like Reels is a great way to do it and with Gen Z and Millennials using Instagram daily, it’s a good way to get on their radar. Don’t get bogged down with learning something new if it isn’t in keeping with your brand though, if using Reels will deviate from your tried and tested method of marketing then focus your time and effort into doing more of what works for you.

Have you tried Reels yet? Tell us what you think of this new feature by getting in touch with us on Twitter and Facebook.