When Instagram Reels came out back in 2020, a lot of us were half expecting it to fail because it was just a blatant TikTok rip-off. But turns out, it was just less like IGTV and more like Stories. So now that we know Reels are here to stay (and have been for a couple of years at this point), what are the best practices we’ve seen for Reels in 2023? Let’s dig in and find out.
Reels Best Practices
Keep it vertical
This should be a no-brainer, but Reels should be filmed vertically. You’d be surprised to see how many people, marketers included, forget about this. Anything filmed in landscape will either have to be posted with black around the edges, preventing the video from being full-screen, or will require users to turn their phone sideways to view the content. Which, who does that nowadays? Vertical video will create the best viewing experience, which will help your content reach more viewers and perform better overall.
Text and captions
For years, statistics have indicated that only a small amount of viewers will turn the sound on when watching video content, which means that the addition of captions and on-screen text to your Instagram Reel is important — not only for accessibility reasons, but also to simply allow your content to be enjoyed by those who would rather watch in silence (thank you, everyone, who doesn’t blast their phone in public places).
Perfect the first few seconds
We’d be lying if we said our attention spans haven’t tanked into the ground over the past several years. Because of this, the first few seconds of your Reel are instrumental in determining whether a viewer will keep watching your Reel or swipe away to something new. To keep your audience hooked, your Reel needs to get to the point as quickly as possible and open with something concise, interesting, or even just visually appealing. Try to make it immediately obvious what your Instagram Reel is about to keep your target audience engaged.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
Keeping up a steady stream of social media content will always help to grow your channel. Keeping Instagram Reels as a recurring content format in your social media strategy will allow you to stay on a growth path by continuing to create the content that your followers enjoy most. This doesn’t mean that you should only post Reels, but they should definitely be a part of your strategy. Consistent posting will also help you with social media algorithms, which reward those who post frequent and high-quality content.
Whether your call-to-action is verbal, written in the caption, or left as a comment on your Reel, it’s an effective and incredibly simple step you can take to achieve your social media goals. A CTA may be used to encourage your viewers to watch more of your content, follow your page, or click a link in your bio.
Join in with trends
If you can spot an opportunity to engage with trends that are relevant to your niche and on-brand for your channel, then you should do your best to get involved. Trends are trending for a reason. Sharing your take on certain trends can be a great way to show your audience that you can be fun, current, and responsive to the ebb and flow of social media culture.
Reels Best Practices for Businesses
While those are just general best practices for Reels, let’s now look at some best practices and content ideas for businesses to follow.
Don’t be too sales-heavy
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to Instagram Reels is making them too promotional and sales-focused. When creating your Reel, your primary focus should be on creating content that your audience will enjoy, not content to satisfy your ulterior motives.
When creating social media content, you should aim for no more than 30% of your content to be focused on your business and its products or services. However, for influencers who may be more reliant on their income from social media and have less control over when sponsored content is going live, the goal should simply be to put creativity first so that even your promotional content brings entertainment and value.
Behind the Scenes
If you’re a business, showing the behind-the-scenes of how your business operates can give your audience (and customers) an authentic sneak peek at how your products come to be. This can help your audience feel more connected to your business and more likely to support and make purchases from you in the future.
A Day in the Life
Similarly, Instagram Reels that showcase “a day in the life” can be a great way for anyone, business or influencer, to let their audience get a more intimate look at what life is like for the person behind the Instagram account. Vlog-style content will always be popular, and Instagram Reels that provide a more concise version of a traditional vlog can be very enjoyable.
Get to know you
If you’ve recently seen an increase in your followers, then now is the perfect time to reintroduce yourself. Whether you’re the owner of a small business, or a social media influencer, an Instagram Reel covering the basics of who you are, where you’re from, what you care about, and what your life looks like can help to build a real connection between you and your followers.
As a business, you’ll want to avoid becoming too promotional in your content. However, people who are genuinely interested in your products or services will always appreciate the occasional product showcase to explain how best to use your product and get the most effective results.
If you find yourself flooded with DMs, then creating an Instagram Reel to answer all of your FAQs can save a lot of time, as well as give you a resource to send to those who have questions in the future. This doesn’t need to be a lengthy sit-down video. Don’t be afraid to be more creative in how you present this information and consider how you can use on-screen text and trending audio to keep things fun and engaging.
If you’re a business, customer stories can make a huge difference in persuading others of the value and effectiveness of your products. Use Instagram Reels as an opportunity to showcase customer success stories whether you feature before and after pictures, screenshots of positive DMs from customers, or even an interview with one of your top customers.
Instagram Reels have been steadily rising in popularity since their release in 2020 and they’re certainly here to stay. If you’re new to short-form video content then don’t be intimidated, Instagram’s built-in Reel editing features will assist you in creating an effective and engaging Reel that you can proudly share with your audience.