By now you know that instagram reels are a gold mine to help you increase your number of followers. Short, entertaining videos have a way of capturing users’ attention, which can mean high engagement for your brand.
Since reels debuted two years ago, they have become the fastest growing feature on the platform. Creators like Justin Bieber, Lizzo, and Stanley Tucci helped transform the addictive feature from a TikTok wannabe to a full-fledged competitor. and we are not surprised.
Reading: How to connect reels on instagram
but how do you use this tool to reach more people, get new followers or spread the word about your products and services? In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know, from how to make an Instagram reel to figuring out the best time to post it.
what are instagram reels?
Instagram Reels are full screen vertical videos that can be up to 90 seconds long. they come with many unique editing tools and an extensive library of audio tracks (with everything from popular songs to viral content snippets from other users). In addition to sounds, reels can include multiple video clips, filters, subtitles, interactive backgrounds, stickers, and more.
reels are different than instagram stories. unlike stories, they don’t disappear after 24 hours. once you post a reel, it’s available on instagram until you delete it.
the best part? Reels are currently favored by the Instagram algorithm, which is more likely to recommend them to people who don’t follow you than feed posts. that’s huge for social marketers.
Users can also discover Reels in a dedicated section of the Instagram app. A scrollable feed full of trending reels (aka the instagram version of the tiktok page for you) can be accessed via the reels icon at the bottom of the instagram app’s home page.
an individual user’s reels can be viewed in a dedicated tab that can be accessed above the account feed.
Reels also feature heavily in the explore tab. If you want to set your Reels up for success with this powerful discovery tool, check out our guide to getting your content on Instagram’s explore page.
how to make an instagram reel in 5 steps
if you’re familiar with instagram and/or tiktok, you’ll find making reels quite easy.
Are you a visual learner? watch this video and learn how to make an instagram reel in less than 7 minutes:
Otherwise, follow these easy step-by-step instructions.
Step 1: Tap the plus icon at the top of the page and select roll
To access the reels, simply open the instagram app and go to your profile page. click the plus button at the top right of the screen and select roll.
You can also access the camera roll editor by swiping left on the instagram camera and selecting camera roll from the bottom options.
step 2: record or upload your video clip
instagram reels gives you two options to create a reel:
- press and hold the record button to capture images.
- load video footage from your camera roll.
reels can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time) or all at once.
If you set a timer from the beginning, there is a countdown before hands-free recording starts.
During recording, you can tap the record button to end a clip and then tap it again to start a new clip.
The align button will then appear, allowing you to align objects from the previous clip before recording the next one. this allows you to create seamless transitions for moments like changing outfits, adding new music, or adding new friends to your camera roll.
If you want to view, trim or delete the previous clip you recorded, you can touch eedit clips. check out our instagram reel tutorial for more detailed editing tips.
step 3: edit your reel
Once you’re done recording, you can add stickers, drawings, and text to edit your reel using the icons at the top of the editor.
The Reel Editor has built-in creative tools so you can do all your editing from one interface.
This is what each function does:
- audio (1) allows you to select audio from instagram music library or import it from your device and add it to your video. you can even choose to add just your favorite part.
- length (2) allows you to change the length of your video. you can choose your video to be 15, 30, 60 or 90 seconds long.
- speed (3) allows you to change the speed of your video. slow down by choosing .3x or .5x or speed up by choosing 2x, 3x, or 4x.
- layout (4) allows you to adjust the layout and add more than one recording to the frame.
- timer (5) allows you to set a timer that will go off before recording starts and set a time limit for the next clip. this is useful if you want to record hands-free.
- dual (6) allows you to record video using your front and rear cameras at the same time.
- align (7) appears after recording your first clip. allows you to align objects from the previous clip.
After you’ve lined up your clips, you can tap the music note icon to add trending sounds or music, or record a voiceover.
You can also tap the download download icon to download instagram reels to your device for later viewing or editing.
check out our instagram reel tutorial for more detailed editing tips.
step 4: adjust your reel settings
When you’re ready, tap Next in the bottom right corner of your screen. you will:
- edit your camera roll cover. you can choose a frame from the video or add an image from your camera roll.
- add a title.
- tag people in your camera roll.
- add a location .
- enable facebook recommendations. If you select this option, your camera roll will be shown to Facebook users who are likely to enjoy your content (according to meta algorithms). you don’t need a facebook account to use this feature.
- change the name of your audio. if you add your own audio (for example, a voice recording) to your reel, you can give it a name that will appear on other users’ reels if they choose to use the sound.
- turn auto-generated subtitles on or off.
- Decide if you want your camera roll to post to your instagram feed (and not just the camera rolls tab in your account).
step 5: post your reel
once you adjust your settings, tap the share button at the bottom of the screen.
congratulations! you have published your first reel. Now, let’s move on to some tactics that will help you make this format work for your brand.
5 tips for making viral reels as a business
Instagram Reels can be a great way to showcase your business to the right audience. The feature can also help you grow your following and increase engagement rates. but this does not happen automatically. you have to know the tricks to go viral on instagram reels.
1. learn how the instagram reel algorithm works
the magic of the reels is in the not so secret ingredient of instagram: the algorithm. this is the omniscient matchmaker that the platform uses to determine which reels it shows to which users. understanding how the reels algorithm works can help you get more views from the browse page and reels tab.
adding trending sounds, using the right hashtags, and making your reels visually appealing are all great ways to tell the algorithm, “hey! pay attention to me!”
2. have fun with trendy audio
If you scroll through your instagram or tiktok reels regularly, you’ll notice that many creators use the same sounds at the top of their videos. Thousands of people have used the Home Depot Rhythm and Typing Sound. that’s not a coincidence.
Instagram reel sounds are song snippets or audio clips from other creators’ videos. when they gain popularity they can help you get more views if you add them to your reels. This is because users tend to search for sounds and because, frankly, the aforementioned algorithm seems to like it.
the best way to find trending audio on instagram is to use the platform and take note of which sounds appear more than others.
as you scroll through the reels, make a note of any sound that has an arrow next to the sound name. the arrow indicates that they are trending. It can be hard to find sounds after you’ve excited a reel, so be sure to save them and use them later.
One last tip! make sure you choose songs wisely and use them sparingly. we all know what happens when trendy sounds are overused. (oh no, oh no, oh no no no no no).
3. don’t be too salesy
As much as you want to sell, the reality is that users don’t open social media apps hoping to see ads. They turn to Instagram to explore ideas, connect with others, and get a quick burst of entertainment during breaks in their day. that’s why you need to make sure your reels help them do just that.
make sure you create content (yes, this includes reels) that is truly entertaining for your target audience. Whether that means leaning into a dance trend or creating quick instructional videos, your goal is to delight, inform, and entertain users rather than sell them.
see: away’s comedic approach to travel content, barkbox’s clever use of trendy sounds, and delta’s brilliant attempt at gamifying the reels.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t turn your reels into ads. boost those high-performing, but non-commercial, reels for even more visibility.
4. post constantly and don’t give up
You can use the same strategies to succeed with reels that you used to boost content in instagram stories or the original feed. Posting consistently is one of the best things you can do to help improve your performance across the platform, including the reels.
That’s because it helps increase your chances of going viral. plus, the algorithm is like your biggest fan: it loves when you post new stuff! In general, the instagram gods prioritize showing recent videos over outdated ones, so keep things fresh.
Posting frequently also helps you add a ton of useful information to guide you as you try to figure out what works and why. The more you post, the more you’ll learn about your target audience: what they like, when they scroll, and more.
5. collaborate with other creators
last year, instagram added a new feature called collaborations. this option allows you to share credit with another creator and allows them to share their page reel as their own.
the collaboration feature is a game changer if you work with influencers, brand partners and others. allows you to extend your reach to all of their followers, which can mean a lot more likes, shares, reach, and overall engagement.
Here’s how to use collaborations:
- When you’re ready to post your camera roll, select tag people.
- tap invite collaborator.
- select the user featured or mentioned in your video.
once the user accepts your collaboration invitation, the reel will appear in the reels tab in your account.
instagram reels cheat sheet
Need quick answers to all your burning reel questions? Please browse our cheat sheet (and bookmark it for later).
how to schedule instagram reels
Scheduling social media posts is a must when you want to stay in your game without having to work overtime. Luckily, there’s an easy way to schedule instagram reels with hootsuite.
Using hootsuite, you can schedule your reels to post automatically at any time in the future.
To create and schedule a reel using hootsuite, follow these steps:
- record your video and edit it (adding sounds, filters and ar effects) in the instagram app.
- save the reel to your device.
- in hootsuite , tap the create icon at the top of the left menu to open the editor.
- select the instagram business account you want to post your camera roll to.
- In the content section, select spools.
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- upload the reel you saved to your device. Videos must be between 5 seconds and 90 seconds long and have an aspect ratio of 9:16.
- Add a title. you can include emojis and hashtags, and tag other accounts in your caption.
- adjust additional settings. you can enable or disable comments, stitches, and duets for each of your individual posts.
- preview your camera roll and click post now to post immediately, or …
- …click schedule for later to post your reel at a different time. you can manually select a post date or choose from three recommended custom best times to post for maximum engagement.
and that’s it! Your camera roll will appear in the scheduler, along with all your other scheduled social media posts. from there, you can edit, delete or duplicate your reel, or move it to drafts.
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See also: How to Set Up Your Philips Hue Lights
once your reel is published, it will appear in both your feed and the reels tab in your account.
Note: You can currently only create and schedule reels on desktop (but you will be able to see your scheduled reels on the scheduler in the hootsuite mobile app).
how to download instagram reels
Whether you’re a creator or a consumer, downloading instagram reels is a handy tool to have up your sleeve.
When creating, it helps you save drafts directly to your device or share them with others before they’re published. you’ll also want to download reels you’ve created if you plan to share them on another platform.
When scrolling, downloading allows you to save other creators’ videos permanently, even if the creator deletes them. it also allows you to access them when you are offline.
there are several ways to download instagram reels.
If you own the reel, you can download it using the download option on the edit reel page. once it is published, you can download it from the reel itself. click the three dots in the bottom right corner of the camera roll and select save to camera roll.
If you want to download someone else’s camera roll, you’ll need to record your screen or use a third-party app like instdown or insaver.
learn more in our guide to download instagram reels.
the best time to post reels on instagram
Knowing what time to post to instagram reels is an easy way to target your users when they are most active. catching them as they scroll means more engagement and greater reach for your brand.
The thing is, the ideal time to post is different for everyone. For Hootsuite, the best time to post on Instagram is between 9am and 5pm. m. and noon, Monday through Thursday. but your audience may be skewed later, earlier, or commute more on weekends.
don’t worry. there is a quick way to find out when to post. In HootSuite, you can see the best time to post Instagram content from the analytics feature. Click “best time to post” to see when your users are most likely to engage with the post. the heat map is a handy way to visualize the best times.
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Another way to find the best time to post reels is to check what worked best for you in the past. To review the performance of your current one, go to Analytics in the Hootsuite Dashboard. there, you’ll find detailed statistics, including:
- participation index
instagram reel dimensions
Getting the size right is another great way to set up your reel for success.
Using the wrong dimensions can make your post look (we won’t sugarcoat it) downright ugly. and that means instant swipe of users. on top of that, the almighty algorithm doesn’t like its reels to look stretched or distorted. we don’t blame her.
so what is the ideal reel size for instagram? make your film frames and cover 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels. if you choose to have your reel appear on your normal grid (probably a good idea, by the way), make sure your thumbnail is set to the ideal size of 1080px by 1080px.
what about the ratio of instagram reels? users will have the best experience viewing reels in full screen mode, which features a 9:16 aspect ratio. however, instagram also shows reels in the main feed and crops them in a 4:5 ratio.
just be sure to avoid placing important information around the edges of the frame, as it might get cut off.
read our complete guide to instagram reel sizes.
how long are instagram reels?
instagram reels can be up to 90 seconds long.
When instagram first introduced the reels feature in 2019, users could only post reels up to 15 seconds long. In 2022, users can choose from four Instagram reels of up to 90 seconds each. that means you have a full minute and a half to dazzle your audience.
but should I use the 90 seconds? not always. It totally depends on the reel itself. In general, aim for ease of use when deciding how long to make an instagram reel.
longer instagram reels are useful for more time consuming stories, how-to guides, walkthroughs, and more.
However, you certainly don’t want to draw things. remember that the point of reels is to create nice little snippets of content, so keep it short and sweet.
bonus tip: Unless you’re looking for a quick way to infuriate your audience, you should never post multi-part videos when you could in one. That’s what 90-second reels are for!
how to search for reels on instagram
One of the best things you can do as a smart reel maker is see what other people are doing on the platform. For unique instagram reel ideas, you can search for content to help you get inspired.
A quick way to search for reels is to use the general search bar at the top of the app. Write a search function and explore content, users, and hashtags related to that term.
while instagram’s standard search function is useful, it doesn’t just show reels. A good way to search for just reels is to click on hashtags from other reels. this will limit your results to reels and filter images.
for example, if you’re an avid consumer of puppy content, you can click the #dogsofinstagram hashtag in a reel’s title to see more reels of dogs being cute.
Easily schedule and manage reels along with all your other content from hootsuite’s super simple dashboard. schedule reels to post while you’re ooo, post at the best possible time (even if you’re sound asleep), and control your reach, likes, shares, and more.
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