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May 17, 2023

Instagram Reels Best Practices for Marketers: A Beginner's Guide

Intro to Video

Instagram Reels is a feature within Instagram that allows creators to shoot and share short videos up to 90 seconds in length. With its user-friendly interface and a wide range of creative tools, Reels enables marketers to produce engaging content that captures attention and encourages interaction. Very ideal for social media marketing and video marketing. Let’s explore the best practices for leveraging Instagram Reels to maximize your marketing efforts and connect with your audience in a meaningful way.

Scene by Scene: A Table of Contents

1. Why is Reels Useful for Brands?

2. How Does the Algorithm Work?

3. Technical Recommendations

4. Content Recommendations

5. Recommendations for Brands

1. Why is Reels Useful for Brands?

Instagram Reels presents several advantages for brands looking to enhance their social media marketing strategy:

  • Increased Reach: Reels have the potential to reach a broader audience beyond your existing followers, thanks to the 'Explore' page and the 'Reels' tab.

  • Boosted Engagement: The interactive nature of Reels encourages users to like, comment, and share, leading to increased engagement rates.

  • Authentic Branding: Reels provide an opportunity to showcase the personality and values of your brand, fostering a deeper connection with your audience.

  • Creativity and Versatility: With an array of creative tools such as filters, effects, and audio tracks, Reels allows marketers to experiment with different formats and styles.

  • Staying Relevant: By leveraging the latest trends, music, and challenges, Reels helps your brand stay current and connected with your target audience.

2. How Does the Algorithm Work?

Understanding how the Instagram Reels algorithm works is essential to ensure your content gets maximum visibility. The algorithm sorts Reels based on several key factors:

  • User Interactions: The algorithm considers the accounts you frequently engage with, prioritizing their content in your feed.

  • Content Preferences: If you consistently engage with specific types of content, such as beauty or fashion, the algorithm will curate Reels tailored to your interests.

  • Posting Time: The timing of your Reels plays a role in determining its visibility. Posting when your target audience is most active increases the chances of reaching more viewers.

  • Originality and Quality: The algorithm favors unique, high-quality content and deprioritizes recycled content from other apps like TikTok.

For a more detailed understanding of the Instagram Reels algorithm, you can refer to this awesome resource by Hootsuite.

3. Technical Recommendations

Prioritize Vertical Videos

To ensure a seamless viewing experience, prioritize shooting vertical videos for Instagram Reels. Users are accustomed to consuming content in portrait mode, and shooting vertically allows your videos to have a native look and feel. By aligning your content design with user preferences, you enhance the chances of your content being well-received and therefore increase your brand visibility. As always, be sure to follow the recommended specs and use a 9:16 aspect ratio for your videos.

Time Your Videos

Shorter reels tend to perform better on Instagram. Aim to keep your videos under 20 seconds to hold your audience's attention effectively. Remember, the first few seconds are crucial for hooking your viewers and enticing them to watch the entire video. Grab their attention from the start and deliver your message concisely.

Shoot High Resolution, Avoid Low Quality

Invest in shooting high-resolution videos for Instagram Reels. Aim for 4K resolution if possible, as it optimizes viewer engagement and provides a visually appealing experience. High-quality videos are more likely to capture the attention of your audience and leave a lasting impression. The latest smartphones offer excellent camera technology, so make the most of them to create high-quality content.

Recommended Specs:

Adhering to Instagram's recommended specifications ensures your videos look their best on the platform. Here are the key specs to consider:

  • Aspect ratio required: 9:16 (a normal smartphone screen) is highly recommended. However, you can also use a 1.91:1 aspect ratio

  • Recommended resolution: 1080x1920 (minimum resolution requirement is 720x1280)

  • File types: .MP4, .MOV

  • Max file size: 4GB for 60 seconds of video (more than you’ll ever need). It’s recommended to stay below 15MB to reduce upload time

  • Max video length: 90 seconds

  • Text-safe area for Instagram Reels:

    • Top margin: 220 pixels

    • Left margin: 35 pixels

    • Right margin: 35 pixels

    • Bottom margin: 420 pixels

4. Content Recommendations

Make a Strong First Impression

To grab your audience's attention, make a strong first impression with your Instagram Reels. Capture their interest within the first few seconds of the video by using eye-catching visuals, intriguing captions, or a captivating opening sequence. By immediately piquing their curiosity, you increase the chances of viewers sticking around to watch the entire reel. @Steven at The Diary of a CEO Podast is a MASTER at using hooks to draw people into watching his content. Have great sex every time?? Tell me more.

Craft Compelling Stories

Use Instagram Reels as a storytelling platform to engage your audience. Develop a narrative arc within your videos that resonates with your viewers and leaves a lasting impact. Whether it's sharing a personal anecdote, showcasing your brand's journey, or highlighting customer success stories, storytelling adds depth and relatability to your content.

Create Original Content for Each Platform

When it comes to Instagram Reels, authenticity is key. Avoid cross-posting from TikTok, Youtube Shorts, or other platforms, as users appreciate content tailored specifically for Instagram. Adapt your ideas and create unique, engaging content that aligns with the preferences and expectations of your Instagram audience. By providing fresh and original content, you can establish a stronger connection with your followers and foster a loyal community.

Keep Important Elements in the Center

To ensure optimal visibility and focus, keep important elements of your Instagram Reels video in the center. This approach prevents essential details from being cut off or overshadowed, allowing viewers to fully appreciate the content you are sharing. By maintaining a balanced composition, you can enhance the visual appeal and overall impact of your videos. In the recommended specs above, we've included margins for text-safe areas within your Reel, which are not only helpful for text or captions, but the video content in your Reel as well.

Captions & On-Screen Text

Captions and on-screen text are powerful tools to convey your message effectively on Instagram Reels. By adding concise and engaging captions, you can provide context, enhance accessibility, and increase viewer understanding. Additionally, on-screen text can reinforce key points or highlight important information, making your content more accessible and engaging for viewers who watch videos without sound. Be creative with your captions and text, utilizing a mix of humor, curiosity, or concise statements to grab and retain attention.

Call to Action: Drive Traffic to Your Bio Link

Leverage the potential of Instagram Reels to drive traffic to your bio link. By including a compelling call to action in your videos, you can encourage viewers to visit your profile and click on the link provided. Whether it's directing them to your website, blog, or a specific landing page, a clear and enticing call to action prompts viewers to take the desired action. Make sure to emphasize the value or benefit they will gain by following the link, inspiring them to engage further with your brand.

What's Trending?

Stay in the loop with the latest trends on Instagram Reels and leverage them to enhance the visibility and reach of your content. Incorporate trending music, popular sounds, or popular challenges into your videos to tap into the existing audience and engagement associated with these trends. By joining the conversation and aligning your content with what's popular, you can increase your chances of reaching a wider audience and gaining more exposure. Instagram has a great resource called the Creator Lab where popular creators share what they've learned on their path to success, so your path is easier. Worth checking out!

Use The Tools Wisely

While Instagram provides a plethora of creative tools, it's important to use them wisely. Filters and visual effects can add a touch of uniqueness to your Instagram Reels, but excessive use can distract viewers from the core message and diminish the impact of your content. Find a balance that aligns with your brand's aesthetic and resonates with your audience. Focus on enhancing your content rather than overwhelming it with unnecessary distractions. Remember, simplicity often has a greater impact.

5. Recommendations for Brands

Content Ideas for Brands

When it comes to creating compelling content on Instagram Reels, brands have endless possibilities. Here are some content ideas to inspire your marketing strategy:

  1. Offer a glimpse into your daily business operations and workspace or provide an insider's perspective on how your products are made or services are delivered (just like Vidyard's Reel post above). People love to see the human side of brands, and sharing authentic moments can build trust and loyalty.

  2. Highlight your team members or partners and allow them to introduce themselves. Introducing the faces behind your brand humanizes your business and fosters a sense of connection with your audience.

  3. Display your customers and share their stories. Testimonial content is a powerful way to demonstrate social proof and engage with your community. Testimonials, reviews, or creative uses of your products are all excellent examples under this category.

  4. Create concise how-to videos to educate your customers. Sharing valuable knowledge and tips can position your brand as an expert in your industry while providing value to your audience.

  5. Offer exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming product launches or exciting news. Teasers and exclusives can generate buzz and anticipation, driving engagement and creating a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out).

All About Hash Tags in Posts

To increase the reach and discoverability of your Instagram Reels, it's essential to include relevant hashtags in your posts. Here are some best practices for using hashtags effectively:

  • Choose 3 to 5 hashtags that are popular within your niche or industry. These should be hashtags that your target audience is likely to search for or follow.

  • Avoid using overly generic or broad hashtags that have millions of posts associated with them. Instead, opt for more specific and targeted hashtags to attract the right audience.

  • Regularly research and update your hashtag strategy. Trends change quickly on social media, so staying up-to-date with popular hashtags can give your content a better chance of reaching a wider audience.

  • Create a branded hashtag unique to your business. Encourage your followers to use it when sharing content related to your brand, which can help build a sense of community and increase brand awareness.

Word Count Matters

When creating Instagram Reels, it's important to include a sufficient amount of text in your video posts/description. Including at least 30 words in your video posts allows viewers to engage with your content beyond just watching the video. They can read the text and get a better understanding of your message. This can also provide SEO benefits as Instagram's algorithm can analyze the text in your video posts to determine relevance and rank your content in search results.

Post Consistently

Consistency is the key to maintaining a strong presence on Instagram. By posting regularly, you can cultivate a loyal following and ensure that your content remains fresh in the minds of your audience. However, it's important to note that consistency should never come at the expense of quality. Aim for a posting frequency that aligns with your business goals and resources, while still delivering high-quality content that resonates with your audience. Don't start by overestimating how many days of the week you can post, or how much content you'll be able to create. Set a posting schedule you'll be able to maintain.

Strike the Right Balance of Entertainment and Promotion

While Instagram Reels provide an excellent platform for showcasing your products or services, it's essential to strike a balance between entertainment and promotion. Viewers are drawn to Reels that entertain, inspire, or educate them, rather than overtly promotional content. Incorporate elements of storytelling, humor, or creativity into your Reels to captivate your audience and build an emotional connection. By focusing on engaging and entertaining content, you can subtly promote your brand without alienating your viewers.

Understand Your Audience and Create Content for Them

To succeed on Instagram Reels, it's vital to have a deep understanding of your target audience. Spend time analyzing their demographics, interests, and preferences. By understanding what resonates with your audience, you can tailor your content to meet their needs and desires. Conduct surveys, engage in conversations, and monitor feedback to gain valuable insights that will inform your Reels strategy. Remember, creating content for your audience, not the algorithm, is the key to driving meaningful engagement and fostering brand loyalty.

Collaborate with a Video Production Agency

If you're looking to take your Instagram Reels to the next level, collaborating with a video production agency on video content creation can be a game-changer. Agencies possess the expertise, equipment, and creative vision to bring your ideas to life and build a video strategy that works. They can help you craft visually stunning and engaging Reels that align with your brand identity and resonate with your audience. Working with a video marketing agency allows you to tap into their specialized knowledge and technical skills, ensuring that your Reels stand out from the competition. It also takes one less thing off your busy plate! We got this.

Author: Brandon Hardy

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