What is Instagram Reels?

By: Richard Michie

Instagram have launched a new feature called ‘Reels’, the new way to create short and entertaining videos. Users can record and edit a 3 to 15-second multi-clip video, with audio, using effects and creative edits to make engaging content.

Users can share Instagram Reels with their followers across news feeds, stories, and now, in the new Reels tab on the user’s profile, just like IGTV. For users with public accounts, your creations will be found as a new feature on the Explore page. This gives these users the ability to become creators and reach new international audiences on Instagram.

Sounds Familiar, Right?

If you’re thinking “I’ve heard of this before”, you are not alone. In fact, TikTok retweeted the post launching Reels to the world, commenting that the new feature looked all too “familiar”.

Tiktok Tweet

This should come as no surprise. We’ve been here before, when Instagram introduced stories to compete with Snapchat, after a failed acquisition by owners Facebook. Instagram Reels is another attempt to dominate the social media world, this time, with playful easy to create video.

It would be short sighted to assume that Instagram have not noticed the incredible response TikTok has received in the last 12 months. With a loyal demographic of generation z’s and millennials glued to the video app, and older generations jumping aboard the bandwagon, it’s no surprise that Instagram want a slice of the action and this hugely valuable market.

The timing, for Instagram, could not be better, as political leaders in the US and Australia consider banning TikTok country-wide, following India who have successfully implemented the ban.

Creating an Instagram Reel

instagram Reels

To create a reel, select the “Reels” option, located at the bottom of the Instagram camera, along where ‘Live’ and ‘Story’ are located. Here, you’ll see a variety of different editing tools to help create your video.

Here there are four different actions:

Audio: Select your jam! Now you can select a song for your reel from the extensive Instagram music library, or use your own audio by creating and embedding it into the video. This original recording will then be associated to the user. If you have a public account, other users can use your original audio by selecting “Use Audio” from your reel.

Speed: Helping to offer flexibility over how you’d like the video to look, Reels enables you to control how fast or slow the video will record. It’s up to you. Get creative!

Effects: The control doesn’t stop there, with filters and effects available, created by both Instagram and creators, you can customise your reel endlessly. Effects can be found by selecting the effects tab and scrolling right, and more can be found by browsing “all effects”. You can also record and change the effects throughout the video, whilst adding stickers and text just like Instagram stories.

Instagram Reels Effects

Timer: Reels have a maximum length of 15 seconds. Select the duration of clip you want to make, and when the timer is set, wait for 3 second countdown, and in 3, 2, 1, you’re on!

Align: To make transitions throughout your reel, select the option to make multiple clips in one video. A transparent filter will appear on the last recorded frame to make the transition look smooth and seamless, a feature currently missing from TikTok. Making uninterrupted videos is easy, thanks to Reels.

Sharing Instagram Reels

Where to find Reels

The visibility of your reel depends on the type of account you have.

If you have a public account, you can share your reel in the Explore page where your post can be discovered by a wider Instagram community. On the other hand, if you have a private account, only your followers can see the content you post.

Once you have created your masterpiece, write a caption, and use relevant hashtags to target your post. You also have the option to share it to your news feed, story or profile.

Is Instagram Reels useful for Business?

Instagram Reels are an innovative new way to build your community engagement, and to grow and reach new followers on Instagram. A creative, fun and entertaining approach to share video content with your audience, Reels provides exciting opportunities for businesses. If you already have an Instagram business profile and are already using IGTV or Stories, try Reels today!

  • Create content that is relevant to your target market
    Reels, by design, is a fast and full-featured tool, full of special effects to enhance your content. Create authentic and captivating Reels relevant to your audience, and you’ll find this a fantastic way to strengthen your brand community.
  • Share Educational Content associated with your brand
    Establishing your brand’s positioning within its industry is key, and educational content regarding the business and sector is a great way to achieve this. This content is also popular with users, especially in the form of tips, step by step tutorials, and formats that facilitate the sharing of ideas.
  • Show your product range
    Instagram Reels can be a great lead generator for brands and businesses who utilise the tool to expose their products and services in a creative way. To ensure you make the most of the international marketplace accessible by the Explore page, be sure to use hashtags and captions to target prospective customers.

Lots of marketers will be looking at Instagram Reels and be thinking “That’s not for my brand” and they may be right, but how many of those same people looked at the original Instagram and didn’t think they would ever use and now reliant on it?

As always you need to be aware of new development and then work out of they fit with your marketing strategy, if not them move on and concentrate in the right places.

If we can help you to reap the many benefits of effective Instagram marketing, video marketing, or if you’re looking to step-up your social media marketing generally, we’d love to help you.

Interested in speaking to The Optimists?

Right from the beginning of our time working with The Marketing Optimist, they’ve taken the time and effort to get to understand Sharp Consultancy as a business and not just a client. We’ve seen a huge increase in the effectiveness of our social media strategy, particularly on Linkedin and we’re delighted with the impact it’s had on the business.

Jamie Caulfield

Regional Director, Sharp Consultancy

It was a pleasure to work with The Marketing Optimist on this project. It felt like a true collaborative effort on the day and they made the interviewee's feel at ease whilst talking about their journey on our RISE programme. The final video was professional and engaging, we have received great feedback around the quality and creativity of the case study. Including the video in our presentation made it come to life, with real humans sharing their stories, so thank you to the Marketing Optimist!

Hannah Prole

Impact Manager, Better Connect Limited

Case Studies


Marketing for Local Government

Moresby Hall Hotel

Hotel Rebranding

Sharp Consultancy

B2B Social Media for recruitment

The Edit LDN

Managing advanced eCommerce SEO

Better Connect

Digital PR and video production for events

Tango Networks

Marketing support for a global telecoms business

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