Skip to main content

Instagram Tips & Resources

Instagram Reels in 2022: The Ultimate Guide


By Jessica Worb

Published February 7, 2022

15 minute read

Everything you've ever wanted to know about Instagram Reels, all wrapped up into one, information-packed guide.

Last Updated April 19, 2022

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

The secret to viral growth on Instagram right now? You guessed it: Instagram Reels.

“Since introducing Reels to our Instagram channel last year, we’ve seen our engagement grow by 280%,” shares Later’s Social Media Manager, Mel Brittner.

But landing the perfect Reels strategy — and knowing how to use *all* the different features — is no mean feat.

We’re sharing everything you need to know about Instagram Reels in this ultimate guide:

Table of Contents:

  1. What Are Instagram Reels?

  2. How to Make Reels on Instagram

  3. How to Add Audio to Reels

  4. How to Access Instagram Reels Insights

  5. How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works

  6. What Are Instagram Reels Bonuses?

  7. 5 Things You Need to Know When Creating Instagram Reels

What Are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels are short-form, vertical videos that can be up to 60 seconds long.

Instagram users can record and edit together video and photo clips set to music and share them to their Feed, Stories, and the Reels explore page.

The popular video feature is available in the United States and 50 other countries.

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. 

And what makes Reels different is that instead of user’s only seeing Reels from accounts they follow, users see Reels from all Instagram accounts on the Reels tab.

​​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!

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:

  1. Storyboard Concept

  2. Shoot Instagram Reel

  3. Preview and Add Effects

  4. 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: 

  1. The Reels tab

  2. Your Instagram home screen

  3. 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.

2022 Reels Guide

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.

create instagram reels

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”:

2022 Instagram Reels Guide

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. 

create instagram reels

To shoot footage internally in the Reels app, hold the recording circle in the middle of the screen.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

You can also select which part of a song you want to feature.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

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.  

create instagram reels

To access effects, tap the three stars icon above the record button. There you can browse Instagram’s effects gallery. 

create instagram reels

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”.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

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.

create instagram reels

You can also rename your audio (if you’ve created your own), add a location, and toggle “Recommend on Facebook” to increase your reach. 

create instagram reels

Finally, tap “Share.”

create instagram reels

And just like that, you’ve successfully posted your very first Reel – job done! 

Instagram Reels Dimensions: Recommended Aspect Ratio and Video Size

Much like Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels are designed to be viewed vertically, full-screen, and on mobile.

With this in mind, it’s best to create content with an aspect ratio of 9:16, and with a size of 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels.

Shooting and editing directly on mobile is a good way to stick to the optimal dimensions.

Remember, the bottom fifth of a Reel is where the video caption is displayed. Avoid having important visual elements in this section if possible.

Should You Shoot and Edit Reels in Instagram? 

When it comes to the Instagram Reels algorithm, creating original content for IG Reels is best.

But, that doesn't mean you have to shoot and edit all your footage within the Instagram app.

If you’re looking to master transitions and edit content to a specific beat, it could be easier to save footage to your camera roll and edit it using a third-party app – before uploading to Reels. 

The most beginner-friendly apps for editing Reels include: 

For the best results, add on-screen text, captions, voiceovers, and audio in Instagram after you’ve uploaded your edit – this will help the Reels algorithm to accurately categorize your content, and will also make sure your video is shown on the relevant audio discovery page.

TIP: Instagram’s algorithm deprioritizes content that is visibly recycled from other apps (such as TikTok), as well as low-quality video content.

So, it’s best practice to create Reels content on Instagram rather than TikTok. 

Create a free account and start scheduling your Instagram posts with Later today – it’ll take less than five minutes. 

How to Find and Add Audio to Instagram Reels

Music is a huge part of Reels – just like on TikTok.

There are a few ways to find and add audio to your Instagram Reels:

  1. Scroll through Reels to find trending audio and select “Use Audio".

  2. Use Instagram’s music library or browse your saved audio. 

  3. Search for specific audio clips.

  4. Check out Later’s weekly Reels trend resource.

Once you find a good soundtrack, 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.

Why Can’t I Access Instagram Reels Music?

If you notice your account doesn’t have access to the entire Instagram music library, this could be due to your location, account type, device settings, or business account category.

The majority of business account categories have a restricted library due to copyright terms and conditions, but “Entrepreneur” categories have full access.

If you still don’t have access to Instagram Reels music, there are ways to work around it.

Either record original music and audio or edit your video outside of Instagram Reels.

NOTE: If you upload original music outside of Instagram Reels, your videos might not be displayed under the associated Audio page – which will reduce the visibility of your Reel. 

How to Access Instagram Reels Analytics

You can access insights for Instagram Reels. Insights are available in two areas:

  • On individual Reels

  • The Instagram Insights tab

How to Access Instagram Reels Insights on Individual Reels:

To see how a specific Instagram Reel is performing, follow these steps: 

Visit the Reels tab on your profile page and open a Reel you want to see insights on.

From here, tap the three dot icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and select “Insights.”

Instagram Reels Insights

Here, users can see metrics including:

  • Plays: The exact number of times your Reel has been played.

  • Accounts Reached: How many Instagram users saw your Reel.

  • Likes: How many users liked your Reel.

  • Comments: The number of comments.

  • Saves: The amount of times your Reel was saved.

  • Shares: How many Instagram users shared your Reel with another Instagram user or on Instagram Stories.

How to Access Instagram Reels Insights:

To see how your Reels are performing overall, head to your Instagram profile and select “Insights.” 

From here, you can browse through and see how your different Reels videos are performing alongside one another. 

You can organize your Reels insights by:

  • Comments

  • Likes

  • Saves

  • Reach

  • Plays

  • Shares

  • Reels Interactions

How Does the Instagram Reels Algorithm Work?

Since Instagram Reels feed is entirely made up of suggested content, knowing how the Instagram Reels algorithm works is a major advantage. 

The Instagram Reels algorithm favors Reels that: 

  • Have high engagement (such as comments, likes, shares, saves, and watch time).

  • Use creative tools like text, filter, or camera effects.

  • Have vertical dimensions.

  • Use music from the Instagram music library and/or original audio you create or find on Reels.

With these positive indicators in mind, it’s worth creating Reels that:

  • Are entertaining and fun (i.e. delights people, grabs their attention, makes them laugh, or has a fun surprise or twist).

  • Are inspiring (i.e. starts a trend that others can easily participate in).

  • Are experimental! Try something new, be yourself, and see what works for you.

On the flip side, the Reels algorithm does not favor Reels that:

  • Are blurry due to low-resolution.

  • Are uploaded with a border around them.

  • Have the majority of the image covered by text.

  • Do not meet  Instagram’s Community Guidelines.

  • Are visibly recycled from other apps (containing logos or watermarks).

With this in mind, it’s worth creating high-quality Reels directly in Instagram. 

How to Earn from Reels With Instagram Reels Play Bonuses

According to Instagram, “Reels Play bonuses are opportunities for creators to earn money directly from Facebook and Instagram for creating content that their communities love."

It’s simple: creators can make money based on the amount of plays their Reel gets.

As long as you have a business or creator account (and access to the program) all you have to do is share Reels to Facebook and Instagram. Instagram will pay out on Reels that get at least 1,000 views over a 30-day period.

NOTE: The Reels Play bonus program is currently only available to select creators in the US. 

5 Tips for Creating Viral Instagram Reels 

#1: Use On-screen Text and Captions 

We know 85% of video on Facebook is watched without sound, so adding on-screen text and subtitles to your videos is a no-brainer when it comes to reaching more users.

Plus, not only are subtitles great for people who watch without sound, but they’re invaluable for those with hearing difficulties.

To add video subtitles you can use Instagram's closed caption sticker.

Tap on the sticker icon and select "Captions."

It may take a few seconds for the audio to transcribe. Once they've pulled through, you can go through and edit the text to make sure it's all correct.

TIP: Make sure your closed captions are visible in every part of the Instagram app by positioning them in the center of your screen.

#2: Use Trends as Inspiration

Similar to TikTok, Reels come and go quite quickly.

To hop on a trend before it becomes old news, take a few minutes each morning to scroll through the Instagram Reels tab and other creators’ profiles to see what they’re sharing.

Is there anything that seems to consistently pop up — a particular song? An audio clip? A dance trend?

If so, click on the music to see how many other creators have used the audio. Scroll through the videos to get an idea of what the trend is.

Or, bookmark this Reels trends resource updated weekly.

#3: Drive Traffic by Encouraging Viewers to Head to Your Link in Bio

The best way to drive traffic from Reels is by including a clear call-to-action (CTA) that encourages people to head to your link in bio.

This could be with on-screen text placement, a verbal call-out, in your video caption, or all of the above.

You can use a link in bio tool, like Later's Linkin.bio, to create a mini landing page with multiple link buttons and clickable images:

This is a great way of getting more value from your link in bio, and it only takes a few minutes to set up.

Make the most of your Instagram link in bio with Linkin.bio by Later — get started today.

#4: Find Your Niche and Post Consistently

One of the best ways to gain virality on Instagram Reels is by finding your niche and posting consistently.

There are so many Instagram users with a wide range of interests and hobbies. No matter what your brand or business does, there’s a niche for you!

If you’re a skincare brand, you could product tips tips like @glowrecipe. And if you’re a bakery, you could go behind-the-scenes in the kitchen like @jennaraecakes:

And even if your first few Reels don’t garner a ton of traction or engagement, keep going! Just like anything else on social media, it’s all about trial and error.

#5: Include 3-5 Hashtags

Including 3-5 hashtags can be a great way to help the Instagram algorithm “understand” your content and serve it to relevant audiences.

For example, using hashtags like #easyrecipes, #mealideas and #dinnerinspiration will indicate to the Instagram Reels algorithm that your content is about food — which may increase the likelihood of it being served to users who are actively engaging with similar content.

Every little helps!

Whatever your brand or business, there’s a creative opportunity waiting for you with Instagram Reels.

Ready to jump in and create your first Instagram Reel? Here are our top five resources on the Later blog to help you get started:

  1. How to Create + Upload Your First Instagram Reels in 3 Easy Steps

  2. How to Hack the Instagram Reels Algorithm – According to Instagram!

  3. 15 Instagram Reels Ideas to Post Today

  4. 7 Instagram Reels Predictions for 2022

  5. The Top Instagram Reels Hacks You Need to Know

Level-up your social media strategy with Later — plan, schedule and automatically share Instagram posts to your feed, for free!

Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!

RELATED ARTICLES

11 min read

15 Instagram Reels Ideas to Post Today

By Jessica Worb

9 min read

How to Create Instagram Reels like a Pro in 4 Easy Steps

By Amanda Demeku

3 min read

How to Hack the Instagram Reels Algorithm – According to Instagram!

By Jillian Warren