Social Media

Instagram Reels: a guide to the short-form video

In today’s digital era, the increasing importance of short-form video content is evident. Quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of social media content, short-form video is 60 seconds or less. During the pandemic, online audiences grew to prefer short content and bite-sized videos became an important tool to capture attention and deliver messages. 

Studies show that video content engages the target better than text. Its accessibility and ease of creation have allowed individuals and businesses to connect with their audiences. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube offer simple tools to make your own short-form videos such as behind the scenes or community spotlights and share them. 

Image BTS of the GOrendezvous team photoshoot

In 2020, Instagram introduced Reels to compete with TikTok. In July 2022, Instagram merged standard videos and Reels so all video content published would now be Reels.

What are Instagram Reels?

Reels are vertical short-form videos that can be up to 90 seconds long if you record them in the app and up to 15 minutes long if it’s an upload of a pre-shot video. Users can edit clips, add music and post the result on their feeds. 

Fun fact: Instagram Reels were first introduced in Brazil in 2019 as “Cenas”. It was then released to the world at large during the pandemic.

How do Reels go viral?

There is no recipe to make a video go viral. However, here is everything you need to know about Reels and some tips to put the odds in your favour!

How does the Instagram Reels algorithm work?

Here are 4 important factors that influence the Instagram Reels algorithm:

  1. The posts you’re interacting with: When you interact with a person’s content, such as liking or commenting on their posts, you are more likely to see their content again in your feed. 

  2. The type of content you engage with: For example, if you like massage therapy content, the algorithm will show you that type of content more often. 

  3. When was the content posted: New Reels are prioritized over older ones. People want to see what’s new! Posting regularly is beneficial for your visibility.

  4. The popularity of the content: A user that has a very engaged audience gives a signal to Instagram that people are interested in this content. 

Are Instagram Reels better than Instagram Stories?

  • Stories are better for reaching your current followers
  • Reels are better for attracting new followers
  • Stories last 24h
  • Reels are available until you delete them

Are Reels better than regular posts?

  • Regular posts are better for reaching your current followers
  • Reels are better for engagement
  • Regular posts are more likely to be seen by your current followers
  • Reels are preferred and pushed by the Instagram algorithm

Tips when creating Reels:

  1. Create original content: To increase your engagement rate, your Reels should be original. The best way to do this is to find your niche. Nowadays, we can see professionals like physiotherapists with millions of followers who are known for their original content! The algorithm favours original content that people are more likely to engage with.

  2. Be consistent: Accounts that post consistently have the best engagement. If you have the time, aim to post 4-7 Reels per week. To do this, make an editorial calendar. This will keep you organized and prepared to post. For example, if you know that  you have an appointment with a client on Monday, having an editorial calendar will remind you to film a “come to work with me”. 
    Image of a Social Media Content Calendar
    Keep in mind that Instagram favours quality content over quantity because quality will make users want to engage with your posts.

  3. Include hashtags and closed captions: Ideally, you should include up to five hashtags in your Reels’ caption. This will help the algorithm better understand your content and share it to the users interested in your type of content. If you want to learn more about hashtags, read our blog Hashtags: How to improve your Social SEO
    Closed captions are a great way to make your content accessible to everyone, including people with a hearing disability. Also, keep in mind that around 20% of people watch Instagram Reels with the sound off!
    Image of the Closed Captions functionality on Instagram
  4. Avoid horizontal video: When it comes to Reels, Instagram will reward you if you’re posting vertical videos. The size of your Instagram Reel should be an aspect ratio of 9:16. If you decide to add horizontal images or clips, Instagram will add black padding on top and on the bottom, which won’t be as aesthetically pleasing.

  5. Collab with other creators: In 2021, Instagram added a new feature called Collabs that lets you share credit with other creators. This way, your Reels will be posted on your and the collaborator’s pages. The advantage is that you can extend your reach to their entire following, which will increase your engagement.
    Image of the GOrendezvous and Antonia Lambiris Collab on Instagram
  6. Finally, keep track of your competitors and trends: For example, using a sound your audience is familiar with is a great way to capture their attention. Also, look at what your competitors are posting to see if they hopped on a trend that boosted their engagement!

Why are Reels important for your business?

Reels are an efficient way to get people to know you and your business. You can use this information to your advantage and make creative content that will showcase the brands’ values and personality. Making Reels to show your business’ behind the scenes or to present your employees and customers are good ways to achieve this! 

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