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How to Use Instagram Reels (for Reals)

Celeste Grant

Instagram has been driving the platform steadily towards video-first for years (IG TV anyone?) with Reels at the forefront of the movement since its debut in August 2020. The drive to make video the star of the app is unsurprising given the overwhelming statistics that show the  popularity of video content as well as the popularity of Instagram’s key rival: TikTok.

While both Reels and TikTok offer short-form video content, they go about it in very different ways.

So, let’s cut to the chase. What is Instagram Reels, and how can you use it for your brand?

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels gives users a quick way to create and discover short, entertaining videos. You can share reels with followers on your feed or publish them to the Reels space on the Instagram Explore page. If you’re a marketer, this is great news because it gives your brand an opportunity to reach a larger audience.

Introducing Instagram Reels

How to create an Instagram Reel

There are two ways to make a Reel: by uploading content to the app or by filming and editing content in-app; we'll walk you through the latter.

To make a Reel in-app, launch your Instagram app and open the in-app camera. Tap on the word “Reels” at the bottom of the camera. From here you can shoot up to 90 seconds of content just like you would shoot an Instagram Story.

Tip: to view all of the Reels on a profile, tap on the movie clip icon above the grid.

T3 Instagram default tab screenshot
T3 Custom Instagram reels tab screenshot

The difference between Stories and Reels is that you can film longer content, slow down or speed up footage, add words that appear and disappear, and set timers for how long the clips should be. You can do all this from the camera view.

Step-by-step guide on how to create your first Instagram Reel:

1. Open Instagram Stories and select the Reels tab. This opens the video recorder.

1. Select Reels tab in Instagram Stories

2. Select the audio you want to use by tapping the music icon. You can play music or sounds in the background to bring your reel to life.

2. Click the music icon to select audio

3. Choose the section of the song you want to use for your Reel. Get creative and match the energy of the music to the context of your video.

3. Choose the section of the song

5. Press and hold the record button to capture your footage. If you have pre-recorded video to use, you can also choose to upload it from your camera roll.

4. Hold the record button to capture footage

6. Have fun. Use filters, play with the speed, and add music and gifs. Once you’ve perfected your reel, tap “post” to share it to your feed.

5. Have fun with filters


Telling your story through Reels

Remember: Instagram Reels are short, 90-second videos. Reels are meant to be fun, in-formal, and real! We love this feature because it takes the pressure off of posting impeccably edited, perfect, flat images. Now you can reach a new audience that values creative content over a perfectly manicured feed.

The most important part of using Instagram Reels is telling your story creatively. Your brand should speak human. Creating content that resonates with your audience is critical for building trust online. Reels gives you the tools to do just that—with quick, creative ways to help you create captivating content.

Reels also empowers businesses to show their human side, which helps build authentic communities and relationships. You can use it to share educational content, an inspirational message, or even showcase your products (but don’t be pitchy).

No matter your industry, there’s an opportunity waiting for you on Instagram Reels.

Need help building a content distribution strategy or a plan to get the most out of your content with atomization? We can help—reach out to set up a free consultation.

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