There’s a lot of trial and error in owning a business, and sometimes its hard to see measurable results. So when you do see results, it’s really freakin’ exciting. You know what I mean?! I’m spilling all the tea on my favorite best kept secret in social media right now -instagram reels. Trust me…you’re gonna wanna listen up. Warning: it’s a bit of a lengthy one, but if you want to grow your account, this could be your ticket. So slap on your blue light glasses and let’s dig in.
First, a quick note. This blog post is about growing your account. Let me first preface by saying that I am a big believer in quality over quantity, and I have seen a good amount of success in my business for several years with less than 10,000 followers. I think it is easy for many of us to get caught up in the chase for more followers, so much so that we forget to engage with and market to the ones we already have. The key to social media marketing is not necessarily all about growth, but about engagement. The important thing to remember is that serving and engaging with your existing audience is the best way to move the needle in your business.
With that being said, some growth never hurt anyone, and if there’s a method out there for doing so that is authentic and relatively easy to execute, than I say um, duh, go for it!
Okay, so back to my story.
The year 2020 brought us (well, a lot of fun things) but one of those things was the wonderful new world of TikTok. I had heard a lot of great things about how TikTok could grow your business fast, and I started posting more consistently to my TikTok account in January of this year. People say that if you post consistently, it’s only a matter of time before one of your post catches and blows up your account. I had seen this happen for other people with small businesses, so heck, it was worth a try! A few weeks later I discovered Instagram Reels and I figured it would be somewhat easy to get going with this new channel since I already was going to be spending the time creating the video content for TikTok.
I posted a few different videos, trying out different types of content and putting it out there to see what happens. Then one morning I woke up to thousands of views on that video and about 500 new followers. At first I saw the same growth on Tiktok (where I had posted the same video) but the thing is, after a few days the Tiktok video engagement began to plateau a little, but the Reels one kept going. And going. And going. Since I posted the video one week ago, I’ve gained 4000 new followers and counting.
Because Reels is still so new and a lot fewer people are actually using it, the app appears to be circulating pieces of content for much longer. If those pieces of content perform well (likes, comments, shares, you know the drill) that means that Instagram pushes your content out to more people. This is how – depending on the popularity of your video – your content can easily go from a couple thousand views to fifty thousand, a hundred thousand, or even half a million views in a matter of a few days.
So here’s the deal…the accidental success of this one video I posted was unplanned (I cannot take credit for whatever reason it was that the video performed so well) and at this point it’s not easy to identify which videos are going to go viral and which ones won’t. I’m basically just here to say that the only way to find out is to start creating videos – and lots of them.
What we do know is that instagram Reels is popping off – and I will explain a little more about that in a second.
Here’s what I will say now…
If you want to grow your account and you’re not on the Reels train yet, you definitely should get. on. that. shiz.
I know what you’re thinking… Good heavens. Another channel. It’s such a time commitment.
Or maybe you’re thinking… It seems juvenile, unprofessional, or just plain irrelevant.
Or…What am I going to post reels about anyway?
Or the classic one… there is no way I am going to twerk in front of a camera (spoiler alert – you don’t have to!)
But think about this. If you knew that by investing just a little bit of time right now, you could see actual measurable growth in your business in just a matter of weeks? What if by doing this one small thing, you could watch your following increase dramatically, and possibly double engagement on your posts?
I had the same doubts at first. But I decided to give it a try (I’ll try anything once – am I right?) And without a doubt, this one simple thing has shown very measurable results, and that makes it worth a try – don’t you think?
Reels are Instagram’s shiniest new toy, so the app is pushing them hard. The algorithm actually prioritizes reels above all other types of content, so because of this, your reels are way more likely to show up on someone’s scroll than a regular old post (those are SO last year!) which just means more eyes on your content. Which is something we all could really use right now in these dark, dark days of the dreaded, ever-growing, all-consuming algorithm.
So here’s the good news. I’m going to share with you how you can make super easy, simple reels and how to make them on brand. I will give you some tips on what makes a good and a bad Reel, and I will even give you some ideas for what reels you can create – so you can get started posting Reels right now! Sound good?
What should you post your Reels about?
First, let’s start with what type of content you should be posting. Like any content you are creating for your business, you want to provide value to your audience and/or solve a problem for them. So think about some pain points your ideal audience might have, and speak directly to them. For example, if you are a wedding and family Photographer, you can highlight 5 poses for romantic engagement shoots, or outfit suggestions for a family session. If you are a florist, you can share behind the scenes highlights from a recent wedding installation, or share your favorite ways to style a centerpiece. Pretty much anything you can post about that shares insight, advice or helpful tips can be turned into a Reel! Just jump in front of the camera and speak, or use a catchy background song and add text on the screen to convey your ideas. If you’re shy in front of a camera, do not fear! You can post video from the artist’s point of view. Like a tutorial, or your hands in action. There are literally TONS of ways you can make Reels! And they definitely DO NOT need to involve twerking or dancing (unless you want to!)
In addition to providing value to your ideal audience, Reels are also an opportunity to connect with your audience on a bit more personal level. So mixing in a little bit of humor or a few personal details about you is a nice way to create some variety in your content and reach different kinds of people.
What makes a Successful Reel?
This is important. You really don’t want to put a ton of work into a creating a Reel, only to put it out there and have it get lost in the black hole of Instagram (it will happen – but you can always try again to make the next one better!) So what are the best practices for Reels? Here are some tips straight from the app creators!
Use trending sounds or original sounds.
Make sure the video is clear and not blurry.
Don’t use recycled content (i.e. ones you created in TikTok) If the TikTok watermark is seen on your Reel, instagram will not prioritize sharing your video on the explore page. So best to create them directly in IG or use a hack (like the one below) to remove the watermark.
Don’t include too much text or text that blocks the actual video content- Instagram says these will get less views.
Here’s a tip for removing the TikTok Watermark (for iPhone): In your TikTok Video, click the three dots on the right side of the video, scroll all the way to the right and select Live Photo. In your camera roll, find the live photo, hit the square + arrow icon in the bottom left hand corner, scroll down and select “Save as Video”. The video will have a small watermark in the right hand corner. Crop the video to remove it.
My personal best advice I can give is to think volume. Post lots reels – short ones, long ones, ones with text, ones with music, ones without… experiment with different types of content and then observe how they do. Then whichever types of Reels are getting the most engagement, you can begin providing more of that type of content.
Some of the most successful influencers right now on Instagram are posting 100% Reels content on their feed. Yeah, that’s right. Like full on ditched the still square tiles! Crazy, right?
…Or is it crazy?
How to Create a Reel (For Dummies)
It’s okay! I was one too!
Now let’s get to the techy part. How do I even freakin’ post a Reel? I’ll show you the two easiest ways. You can create a Reel from scratch (i.e. record it on the spot), or you can create one using uploaded video from your camera roll. I will walk you through both.
Creating Reels from Scratch
Step One: From your Instagram Profile, tap the “+” sign at the top right of the screen and select Reel from the menu.
From here on the right hand side you can choose the length (15 or 30 seconds), the sound (select from popular songs or select nothing to use your own audio) the speed (1x, 2x, 3x, etc) and any filters you would like to use.
Step Two: Record the first part of your video by tapping the record button, just as you would in stories. You can stop and start again, until you reach the maximum allotted time. The pink bar at the top of the screen will show you how much time you have used. To edit or delete the last segment of video, tap the back arrow button, and use the Trash and Crop (scissors) buttons to adjust or delete your clip. Then continue recording the rest of your clips.
Step 3. Once you’re done recording all the clips, hit the forward arrow and this is where you will be able to preview your video and add text and stickers just like in Stories. To make text appear and disappear at different parts of the video: Once you’ve added your text, you will see a little thumbnail of your text at the bottom of the screen. Tap on that, and you can then drag the beginning and end markers to where you want the text to start and end. Change the color and background color of your text to match your brand colors.
Step 4. Click “Done” and “Share” and it will take you to the final screen where you can write a caption and select a cover image. You can choose a still frame from your video or you can upload a custom cover image if you so desire. I recommend uploading a custom cover image for a consistent branded look on your Reels page. But this is something you can work up to – it’s less of a necessity and more of an extra thing. The important thing is just to get started!
Creating Reels from Uploaded Video
To create a Reel using uploaded video footage from your camera roll, you will follow the exact same steps as above. Except instead of pressing record to create your clips, just swipe up and select the clips you want to use. By default it will display your images from the Last 24 Hours, but you can tap the drop down arrow to select a different album from your camera roll (this is an easy way to find clips in your phone if you organize them into particular albums. If you don’t, you can go through your clips at a separate time and save video clips to an album specifically for Instagram Reels so that next time they are easy to find.)
Once you’ve uploaded your clips, you can adjust them the way you want using the back arrow and the Crop (scissors) button, add stickers and text, and you’re good to go! Don’t forget to change the color and background color of your text to match your brand colors for a more consistent, professional look!
So there you have it! That’s not so bad, right? I know it might seem overwhelming at first, but I promise, once you create your first Reel, you will be on your way to being a pro in no time! And the best part is you will soon get to watch your audience grow faster than it ever has before.
We are all new to this new channel, so at this point, there’s not a whole lot of right and wrong. The important thing is to get started, and start discovering what these little short-form videos can do for you and your business.
I know you’re dying to get started…so I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice: Done is better than perfect. People want to see more of YOU being your authentic self. So don’t stress or overthink, just think about how you can serve your audience well, listen to your audience and give them what they want!
Until next time!