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Let’s Get Reel: What, Why and Best Practices for Instagram Reels

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

There’s no doubt about it–video content is what’s driving social media platforms. It’s here, it’s now, and it’s not leaving any time soon. As consumer demands increase, their attention span seems to continuously decrease, literally, fueling a thirst for short form relatable content (keyword here is… relatable).

THIS, my friends, is why you cannot sleep on Reels. Reels are Instagram’s latest short video launch, allowing users to create 15-second videos and share them with their audience.

Taking advantage of Instagram Reels is one of the most effective ways to quickly propel your social media marketing game forward and don’t worry- I’m going to explain why (and the how, etc.) so stick with me.

You’re may be thinking- neat, what does this have to do with me again? How does a short video help my business? The primary benefit of Reels- for you and other business owners- is brand awareness.

Whether you’re a service-based, product-based, coaching, or e-commerce-based business, Reels are the latest, greatest, and most relevant way to showcase your expertise and amplify your brand’s personality across Instagram.

Before diving into the nitty gritty of this hot feature, we’re going to Reel you in and go over the WHY, HOW, and HACKS behind the world of Instagram Reels (see what I did there?!). 😉

What are Reels??

Instagram Reels are full-screen vertical video clips that can be up to 90 seconds long. Don’t freak out- shorter videos are effective, too. You don’t have to become a major screen presence to make Reels work for you.

If you’re not into recording videos, you can use still images to create a short video, too. Then the videos are shared via your feed, Stories, and the Reels explore page.

Reels come with many unique editing tools and an extensive library of audio tracks (featuring everything from trending songs to snippets of other users’ viral content).

On top of sounds, Reels can include multiple video clips, filters, captions, interactive backgrounds, stickers, and more.

Why Use Reels

So how does using Reels impact your existing content strategy? It can make a world of difference, if you use them the right way…

Optimal reach and visibility.

Social media is constantly evolving and offering new ways to reach your target audience. The Instagram (IG) algorithm can be tricky to navigate (that’s putting it lightly, right?!), but since Reels are the newest feature on the platform, Instagram is heavily promoting this feature.

This means by utilizing Reels content, your account is more likely to reach a significantly larger audience and get much more engagement from new people than through any other channel or avenue on Instagram right now.

Like any Instagram feed post, Reels can also get pushed to the Explore page.

If you get enough interaction - comments, likes, shares - Instagram will process this content as high-performing (“oooh our users are really liking this content, so let’s show it to more people!”), and then push your Reel to the Explore tab where followers as well as other users not currently following you, can potentially see your content.

This leads to more awareness of your brand and what you are featuring in the video. With a cleverly placed CTA, either in your caption or using a sticker, you also push people to your link in bio to make a purchase, sign up, or other desired call to action for your business.

This is important because after the user interface changes in January, organic reach on image-to-caption posts dropped significantly to an average of just about 120 accounts being reached via our client’s instagram posts. Insert creative use of Reels and we have seen reach skyrocket into the 4,000+ total accounts reached mark on just one post.

Show off you and your company’s personality, keep it relatable.

YOU (your story and your WHY) are what makes your business unique. Short-form video content is a great way to show off your company’s personality, culture and key differentiators. It also adds a more personal touch that’s more likely to make an impact on your audience.

Studies have shown that people resonate more with faces than stock images or just products by themselves.

Try incorporating team members or customers into your videos, along with photo assets, for increased relatability.

Multi-purpose content.

We’re all about efficiency over here! Reels are the same as any other content you create because you can repurpose it. You can re-share it in your story any time you feel like an old Reel you made is relevant or share it with someone who can relate to it at the time.

You don’t even have to leave your content on Instagram, you can save the video and post it on your TikTok account or stories across other platforms. If it makes sense, add it to your website or portfolio. The best marketers are those who know how to repurpose and optimize their content.

How to Use Reels

Ready for the nitty gritty breakdown? Here’s our simple guide to creating a successful, relevant Reel!

  1. Focus on your ideal customer - WHO are you talking to? Second, what is a pain point, challenge, want or need they have that you can address in your Reels story? Incorporating customer-centric Reels into your existing strategy will help you continue to build trust and respect and lead them to take action to choose YOU.

  2. Research trending audio & templates (you can do this by simply scrolling through Reels on IG and saving those you feel could amplify your services or products - keep ideal audience in mind here)

  3. Open the Instagram app and tap the camera icon, select Reels

  4. Gather relevant photos/videos and upload them to your desired editing platform (directly in-app, Canva, etc) or record in-app

  5. Select your audio & template, add desired media (pro tip: choose a pre-made template from Instagram and all clips will be automatically edited to the correct length!)

  6. Add researched hashtags and caption, upload to feed & Reels section

  7. Bonus step: save to your camera roll to use on other platforms (Facebook, TikTok, etc)

Don’t have a ton of videos to use? No problem! We’ve found that clients that don’t have Reel-worthy video footage can use photos to get the job done with massive success. Simply upload your photos and add words, live captions, stickers, etc to bump up the visibility and align with the algorithm.


Our agency often uses Temply or Canva to put the Reel creative together. This allows for maximum editing capabilities and tends to be a little easier to navigate. We then upload into IG and find a viral song to increase reach. Or, if you prefer, you can create the entire Reel in the platform if you’re working in the spur of the moment.

Carving the time out to create your Reels in advance is a great way to ensure you’re posting regularly and tends to take less time.

We recommend dedicating a couple hours at the beginning of the month to complete research, save trending audios/templates, and put together the creative. From there, you can use a scheduling platform for complete ease or build the posts into your monthly content calendar.

Best Practices

Like everything related to digital marketing, there are always best practices we recommend following in order to drive long-term success. For Reels, make sure you know your audience, have a solid message you’re trying to convey, and take the time to create a story around it with quality videos and/or photos.

Follow these easy tips to create algorithm-friendly IG Reels content:

Avoid Random.

Reels should be a part of your overall content marketing and social media strategy. Try to keep things thoughtful and consistent– who are you speaking to, why should they care, and what’s the objective?

Think through how you will leverage Reels and use them consistently. To amplify your game, try story-boarding your team’s concepts and ideas.

Always offer random.

If you thought Reels were only for the latest dance trends, think again. There are tons of creators going viral by sharing informative, value-based content.

Whether you are aiming to educate your audience on a new product or service or offering professional advice and tips, Reels are an excellent way to narrow in on your audience and give them exactly what they’re looking for all while building trust and respect in you and your company.

Bring the fire!

Humor, Emotion, and Sharing Tips that position you as an expert are great topics to incorporate into your Reels to showcase your personality and build respect among your community members.

Drive traffic to the link in your bio.

Remember to sprinkle in Reels that drive your audience to take specific action(s) - i.e., include 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.

Create content directly on Instagram.

Instagram has confirmed that they deprioritize Reels that are visibly recycled from other apps — meaning they’re less likely to appear in the Instagram Explore Page and the Reels tab.

If using a third-party app to create your video, for best results, we recommend you add on-screen text, captions, voiceovers, and audio in Instagram after you’ve uploaded your Reel creative – this allows the Reels algorithm to accurately categorize your content, and will also make sure your video is shown on the relevant audio discovery page.

Use music/audio from the Instagram library (not a third party app) and we recommend you use trending audio! To explore trending sounds on Instagram, head to the Reels tab – take scroll and note any tracks that have the “trending” arrow for your next clip. You can also search for specific audio clips in the search bar on Instagram.

To add that extra splash of personal flair, try creating custom audio. This is a great way to drive the connection between you and your audience even closer, and could even go viral if it resonates with others! Although, it’s important to mention that studies are showing that Instrgram still awards more reach to treding audio vs. original audio.

Avoid outdated ideas by hopping on trends quickly.

To hop on a trend before it becomes old news, take a few minutes during the week 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. You can also keep a pulse on TikTok to stay up to date on new trends.

Share Reels to both your feed and story.

In case you didn’t know, sharing Reels to your Instagram feed is one of the best ways to boost their views and increase their chances of going viral.

So with this in mind, make sure you opt to share your Reels directly to your Instagram feed and/or your Story. Otherwise, there’s a chance your Reel will go unseen by your community.

Carefully choose a cover photo.

Be very intentional here. The cover photo is what will live in your grid, so make it a good one! When uploading and editing a new Reel, always be sure to choose a high-quality cover image.

Keep learning and stay on top of your Insights.

As marketers, data is gold! To see how your Reels are performing overall, head to your Instagram profile and select “Insights.”

  • 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.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to build Instagram Reels into your marketing strategy, grow your brand awareness, social media and/or utilizing other forms of content marketing to grow your business, we’d love to chat through your ideas and see if we’re the best team to help you achieve your goals.

SLW Media is an award-winning social media and content marketing agency led by Sara Wright. Sara and her talented team of word wizards partner with company owners in the design+build, trades, and luxury home services industries to completely remove the burden of social media and content marketing from their task list with quantifiable results – freeing up their time and resources to focus on other key profitable areas of the business.

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