Reels are the perfect opportunity to extend your reach, boost engagement, and build your community. Their popularity (and viral nature) are undeniable.
However, creating Instagram Reels does take time, skill, and effort.
In this guide, we'll help you tap into the power of Reels, create your own, and share our tried-and-tested tips for making them great.
What Are Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels are fun, short-form videos well-suited to share entertaining, educational, and inspiring content on the app.
Similar to TikTok, Reels are displayed in vertical format for an endless, scrollable feed.
You can record and edit 15 to 60-second clips set to trending music, and add filters or text.
And the best part? Instagram Reels are suggested to users based on their interests, making them a great way to tap into new, relevant audiences.
How to Create an Instagram Reel (a Step-by-step Guide):
Since their inception, Instagram Reels have been an amazing way for brands and businesses to flex their creative muscles and add a visual experience beyond a grid post.
Here’s how to create your first Instagram Reel in four steps:
Shoot Instagram Reel
Preview and Add Effects
Share Instagram Reel
We're breaking down all the steps in this post (keep scrolling!) – but if video is more your thing, check out this quick YouTube tutorial:
Step #1: Storyboard Your Concept
You know how the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So, before you step in front of the red light, it’s best to put a plan in place.
Here are some questions to answer and get you started:
What topic would make the most sense for your business or brand – fashion and styling? Food recipes? Wellness tips?
Are there any that feel like a natural fit for your brand right now?
How will your Reels content be cohesive with your Instagram feed posts or Stories?
Who is your target audience and what type of content will speak to them? It could be tutorials, behind-the-scenes, or a “day in the life.”
From there, spend time perusing the app and take stock of visuals, text, trends, and aesthetics that you could borrow inspiration from.
Once you’ve got a solid understanding of your direction, storyboard your content by breaking down the clips you need to shoot in order to make the concept work.
That way, you’ll gain a visual understanding of how your Reels will turn out – and have a clear plan to work from!
Step #2: Shoot Your Instagram Reel
Now it’s time to shoot your Instagram Reel.
You can create and access IG Reels in three different ways:
The Reels tab
Your Instagram home screen
The Instagram Stories camera
1. How to Create a Reel From the Reels Tab
To create a Reel from the Reels tab, tap into the Reels tab and press the camera icon on the top right.
2. How to Create a Reel From the Instagram Home Screen
To create a Reel from the Instagram home screen, tap the “+” on the top right and scroll to the Reels tab at the bottom of the screen.
3. How to Create a Reel From the Instagram Stories Camera
To create an Instagram Reel using the Instagram Stories camera menu, follow these steps:
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”:
Reels can be recorded in a series of clips, in a single stream, or shot externally and uploaded.
To add external clips from your camera roll to your Instagram Reels, select the “+” icon in the bottom left corner.
To shoot footage internally in the Reels app, hold the recording circle in the middle of the screen.
You can add music to your footage by tapping the audio icon and searching for a song from the Instagram music library. Or, use your own original audio by simply recording a Reel with it.
You can also select which part of a song you want to feature.
When you share a Reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you, and if you have a public account, users can create Reels with your audio by selecting “Use Audio” from your Reel.
From the left sidebar you’ll also have the option to choose the speed of your video (the default is 1x) from .3x, .5x, 1x, 2x, 3x, or 4x.
For hands-free filming, take advantage of Instagram’s timer and countdown effect.
The timer allows you to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.
You’ll also have the option to align your clips. This tool comes in handy when you’re looking to create seamless transitions between moments in your footage.
To access effects, tap the three stars icon above the record button. There you can browse Instagram’s effects gallery.
To easily trim, reorder, or add additional clips, tap "Edit clips".
To delete a clip, long hold it and press the minus icon.
Later is a social media planning and scheduling tool trusted by over 4M brands and creators. Schedule your Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok posts in advance with Later, for free!
Step #3: Preview and Add Additional AR Effects and Text
Once you’re happy with the clips, tap on over to “Preview”.
To bring your content to life, you can take advantage of Instagram’s many effects.
If you’re familiar with Instagram Stories tools, you’ll recognize most of these tools:
Text: Say more by adding text to your Reels.
Draw: Use the draw tool to add some extra flare.
Stickers: Include captions, GIFs, the time, and a plethora of fun Instagram stickers.
AR effects: Search from Instagram’s endless gallery of AR effects created by Instagram and creators around the world.
Filters: Swipe left to access filters to add to your Reels.
Audio: In case you missed it earlier, you can also add audio from Instagram’s music library at this stage – in addition to recording a voiceover, or adding sound effects.
TIP: Explore trending audio on Instagram by heading to the Reels tab – take a scroll and note any tracks that have the “trending” arrow for your next clip.
Step #4: Share Your Instagram Reel
Now it’s time to share your creation.
Tap “Next,” choose a cover photo and write a captivating caption that speaks to your Reel.
From here, toggle whether you’d like to share your Reel to the Instagram Feed. We recommend sharing to Feed for the best reach.
Next, crop your profile image, as this is how the cover image will display on your profile’s grid.
To tag Instagram accounts in your Reel, tap “Tag People” – here you’ll also have the option to invite a collaborator.
If the user accepts your invite to collab, your post will be shared with their followers and they’ll be shown as a co-author on the post.
You can also rename your audio (if you’ve created your own), add a location, and toggle “Recommend on Facebook” to increase your reach.
Finally, tap “Share.”
And just like that, you’ve successfully posted your very first Reel – job done!
How to Create Best-in-class Instagram Reels
Ok, so now that you know how to create an Instagram Reel, how do you stand out from the crowd? It’s all in the execution!
Here are three top tips for creating best-in-class Reels:
Hop on Trends
#1: Hook Your Audience
According to a study, brands and businesses have a mere eight seconds to grab a user's attention.
For comparison, goldfish have a nine-second attention span.
To keep users sticking around for longer, it’s important to have an opening hook: what will immediately grab their attention?
This can be an open-ended question, a catchy visual, or an exciting announcement.
Play around and see how your audience responds, just remember, sometimes the simplest hooks derive the best results.
See how Starface announced the newest addition to the brand’s family below:
The message is simple and clear, putting the introduction right off the top, and it doesn't hurt that the clip is set to a catchy beat with a mix of stunning behind-the-scenes content.
#2: Provide Value
It’s no secret that Reels are capable of catapulting a brand’s reach and impressions. But the ones that stand out are the videos that provide real value.
The secret? Knowing who you’re speaking to and what their expectations are.
Whether they’re looking for quick tips, an easy recipe, or a relatable joke, providing value can take many shapes and forms.
For example, see how the brand Topicals shares a quick tutorial on how to beat ingrown bumps and texture using their products:
Coupled with a clear caption to support the clip, the post garnered over 23K views and inspired a chatty comments section – proving that value is ultimately where the heart is on Reels.
#3: Hop on Timely Trends
Whether it’s dances, audio, or challenges, following trends are a major part of creating viral Instagram Reels.
Which means being immersed in Reels content is key.
That way, you can identify new trends and incorporate them into your overall strategy and niche.
For example, photographer Aurora jumps on a trendy audio and bonus points: since Instagram has confirmed the algorithm prioritizes, “entertaining, funny, and interesting content” her comedic timing makes this Reel a smash hit.
TIP: Carve out some time to comb through the Reels feed, peruse what pops up on the explore page, and note any trends that catch your eye!
And that’s it!
Whether you’re a brand, business, or creator, adding Instagram Reels to your marketing strategy is a surefire way to increase your reach, build trust, and connect with your audience.
Equipped with a plan, some creativity, and an effect or two, you’ll be reaping the rewards (cough, engagement!) of Instagram Reels in no time.