How to make Instagram Reels and why brands need them

Since its inception, Instagram has largely been recognized as a photo-sharing platform. But now more than ever, it’s clear that video content is one of the unstoppable breakout trends of this decade. To tackle this trend and keep up with the rising popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched its own short-form video feature in late 2020: Instagram Reels.

Social media users are now consuming more video content from the brands they buy from. In fact, the number of online videos an individual consumer has watched has almost doubled since 2018. A 2022 study by Wyzowl shows that at least 88% of people are convinced to buy a product or service after watching a brand’s video.   

So as a brand, how do you keep up with ever-changing social media trends and incorporate video content in your marketing strategy? With the right approach to Instagram Reels, your brand can leverage its high viewership and make your presence felt on one of the hottest social networks.

What are Instagram Reels?

According to Instagram, "Reels are a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.”

For more context, this is a feature that allows any Instagram user to create and share short, captivating videos, “Reels,” to their profile. Users can record new videos in-app or pin together short video clips from their camera roll and edit them with Instagram’s unique filters and enhancements. Reels can be up to 90 seconds long, and popular Reels may be made discoverable by the algorithm in other users’ explore pages, home feeds, and the dedicated reels feed.

The feature has a ton of customizable options that let you add a unique flair to your content. For example, one of the most popular functions is the option to record and edit a video next to another user’s video. This feature is reminiscent of TikTok’s duet feature that’s often used to interact with or share one’s take on another creator’s post.

Complete with a database of audio clips to add to your Reel, these features are designed to encourage engagement with your community of followers and keep you on trending moments. 

Unlike Instagram stories, Reels follow an algorithm to appeal to the users’ interests and don’t disappear in 24 hours. This enhances engagement as people can access and explore videos at any time, helping you gain organic followers and improving your brand’s visibility on the app.

How to make Reels on Instagram

Now that you know what reels are, let’s find out how to make them. Here is a simple step-by-step guide that will see you make your first Instagram reel in under 5 minutes:

  • Step 1: Decide the content of the reel you want to make. This is the most important stage that should involve a lot of research to ensure that your reels follow current trends, are relevant, and appeal to your target audience. 

  • Step 2: Open your Instagram app and click on the + icon at the top of the page, then select “Reel.” 

  • Step 3: Record or upload your video clip/s. There are two options: Record your clip inside the app. You can record a series of short clicks and merge them later or record the whole video at once. Or you can upload footage from your camera roll (one or multiple videos). 

  • Step 4: Edit your Reel. Once you have your clip/s ready on your editor, you can add audio, stickers, drawings, or any other edits to make your content as unique as possible. The Reels editor features built-in creative tools so you can do all your editing from one interface.

  • Step 5: Adjust the settings and post your reel. Once you are done editing your video clip, tap next, and you will be able to adjust things like your reel cover, update your location, tag people, enable Facebook recommendations, and more. Tap the Share button once everything is set. 

How to Make Reels on Instagram

Why do brands need Instagram Reels?

Instagram has one of the biggest and most active audience bases that every brand can utilize to increase conversions. Effectively harnessing the power of Reels, you can easily and effortlessly get your content in front of a large number of potential customers.  

Additionally, Instagram Reels allow you to experiment and be as creative with your content as you want. If you follow Instagram Reels best practices, your organic Instagram strategy may see some serious growth.

Basic Instagram Reels facts

  1. Instagram has been the number one most-downloaded app for 3 consecutive years.

  2. At least 91% of active Instagram users consume Instagram videos weekly.

  3. The most popular Instagram reel has over 289 million views.

  4. Instagram has a 1.5% engagement rate for videos.

  5. Instagram reels have the highest engagement rate, with a global average of 53 minutes of viewing time/session.

  6. According to Statistics, a viral Instagram Reel can reach 675.3 Million Users.

  7. Instagram Reels video provides 8% more visual real estate than TikTok does.

  8. 61% of Gen Z TikTok users are likely to spend more time on Instagram Reels.

  9. Instagram users spend an average of 30 minutes on the app.

These statistics show that all brands should consider using Instagram Reels as part of their social media marketing strategy. 

This goes for companies from not-so-exciting industries that typically find it difficult to market on social media as well. Whether you’re selling patient or customer communication software or tax preparation services, you can find a way to create engaging short videos on Instagram.

How to get value from Reels beyond Instagram

Leading brands on social media know the value of a successful post can go beyond the app it originated on. Brands can benefit from collecting user-generated content (UGC) posted by influencers and customers on social media, and showcasing it across their other channels (like website and email). 

Pixlee TurnTo [now Emplifi] recently launched an Instagram Reels functionality that helps brands collect and manage user-generated Reels in one place. This new addition allows you to harness the power of all types of Social UGC, including video, to feature more impactful, community-powered Instagram content across your customer’s journey.

With Pixlee TurnTo, brands can automatically gather and publish Instagram Reels to live displays on their websites, or reshare that content to their own social profiles. The feature also allows you to tag the videos with individual products to enable customers to shop directly from individual Reels. With social commerce slowly becoming the center of all marketing efforts, shoppable social posts are powerful tools for increasing engagement and conversions on the foundation of social proof.

Top 5 popular Instagram Reels trends

Just like TikTok, trends are key with IG reels. The best way to know what is trending is to spend some time scrolling through the videos to see what is popping up more often. Here are some examples of past trends that resonated well with audiences on Reels:

1. Transition videos

Various trending audios like the remix of Drake’s hit song “Nonstop” are perfect for capturing dramatic transitions in Reels. Create a video that perfectly syncs with the beats and try to match the transition at a designated point in the audio.

Revel Nail transition video example

Revel Nail uses its own original audio as well as audio from other users to showcase the brand’s color-changing polish with a transition from inside to outside in the sun.

2. Unboxing videos

Popular on YouTube and TikTok as well, unboxing videos are an example of a shopping-focused trend that’s more evergreen than one-off challenges or trending audio clips. Users share videos of themselves opening new purchases they’ve received from their favorite brands. 

Unboxing video examples

As a brand, you can reshare this type of content from your followers to generate buzz around new products like Mapiful and Nulo Pet Food do.

3. Daily vlog-style videos

Popular with influencers and brands, vlog-style Reels showcase a day in the life of different users and what products they value as part of their routines.    

Daily vlog-style video examples

Alo Yoga and nutrition brand Allmax work with content creators to showcase how their products can be incorporated into daily life.

4. Behind-the-scenes videos

Brands active on Instagram Reels often tend to share behind-the-scenes, exclusive looks into the operations behind the brand, or through the lens of employees. This type of video humanizes the brand while providing educational, entertaining, or simply interesting content.

Behind-the-scenes video examples

Kally Sleep and My Mochi use Reels to showcase what goes into making their products while showing off the fun culture of the brands.

Brands using Instagram Reels for marketing

Many brands with a strong presence on Instagram are already utilizing Reels as a core element of their social strategies. Here are 5 examples of companies using short-form video on Instagram to engage their audiences. 

1. Morphe

The makeup and skincare industry is crushing it with reels. Morphe’s Reels typically show off new products and educate potential customers through tutorial and inspiration videos. The brand also uses influencer marketing to work with experts in the world of Reels who are passionate about Morphe products.

Morphe Instagram Reel video example

2. Alo Yoga

Alo Yoga is another excellent example of a brand maximizing the benefits of using Reels in its marketing campaign. Frequently featuring influencers and real customers from the yoga community in their Reels, Alo shows how their products are conducive to an active lifestyle.

Alo Yoga Instagram Reel video example

3. Yakima Racks

Yakima Racks is a great example of a non-apparel or cosmetics brand that succeeds on Instagram Reels. The brand typically shares tutorial videos and other content showcasing their products in action.

Yakima Racks Instagram Reel video example

4. Redbull

Redbull is another brand that has taken Instagram by storm by using reels as a tool to supercharge its community-driven marketing campaigns. Each reel they post is filled with energy, drive, and enthusiasm.

Redbull is always one of the first brands to adopt popular Instagram trends and use them to its advantage. Here is one of its most recent reels that has gathered massive attention from its audience.

Redbull Instagram Reel video example

5 tips to create winning Instagram Reels

It’s no secret that short, focused, and entertaining video clips are taking over social media. Therefore Instagram Reels are a great way for your business to attract attention, boost engagement, and grow your sales. 

But this takes much more than recording and uploading a few clips to your business Instagram profile. You need to understand the hacks and what it takes to go viral on Instagram Reels.

1. Understand how the algorithm works

The success of a Reel is determined by how well you please the all-mighty Instagram algorithm. No matter what a masterpiece your video clip is, your chances of viral stardom depend solely on the algorithm. These are behind-the-scenes codes that single-handedly decide whether your video is good enough to serve up to the masses or whether it should be buried in obscurity.

Understanding how the algorithm works is crucial to achieving success with Instagram Reels. Simple tricks like adding the trending sounds, using the right hashtags, adding captions, and making videos bright and color-popping can help you get more views and engagement from the explore page and reels tab. 

2. Forget about selling for a minute

The truth is, users don’t usually click on reels hoping to see an ad. They may not even be on social media with the intention to discover products or brands. Instead, they’re looking to find new ideas, get educated, make new connections, and most of all, find quick bursts of entertainment to brighten their day. 

This is why you need to dump the ‘sales-y’ language and focus on making videos that entertain your audience. Always aim to inform, entertain and delight your audience instead of selling to them. Featuring or emulating UGC is important to maintaining that authentic, non-ad-like video style that performs so well on TikTok and Reels.

This doesn’t mean that your reels shouldn’t be ads. But remember that in most cases, less-sales-y reels perform better than those packed with sales vocabulary. 

3. Consistency is the key

Same as with Instagram stories and normal Instagram feeds, consistency is crucial. Posting consistently pleases the Instagram gods — the algorithm — and increases your chances of going viral. However, your main goal shouldn’t necessarily be to “go viral” right away; in the beginning, you should focus more on building up a community of engaged followers over time who are interested in your content. Don’t stress over follower count and views right off the bat.

Additionally, posting often can help you figure out which content works and which doesn’t. The more you post, the more you learn about your audience’s tastes and preferences. 

4. Leverage your Instagram community

One of Instagram’s most powerful and underutilized tools is the Instagram community. A recent new feature called Collabs allows you to share credit with other users for posts within the platform. This way, you can share a reel with another creator and allow them to post it on their page as their own. 

For instance, as a brand, you can share your reels with influencers, brand partners, and other people in your community, increasing your reach and engagement. Marketing community-first should be your brand’s goal when approaching Instagram Reels, as the content you engage with and reshare from your followers can pave the way for increased reach and even potential brand ambassadors.

So there you have it. Brands can leverage Instagram Reels to grow their online communities and positively influence sales. Using social content management tools like Pixlee TurnTo, you can maximize this potential and increase your Instagram engagement and conversions tenfold. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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