How to Make Reels on Instagram: The Only Guide You'll Need

Everything you need to know about Instagram Reels. From how to upload a Reel to how to brainstorm ideas. Dig in!

by
Mako Young
How to Make Reels on Instagram: The Only Guide You'll Need

Table of contents:

Instagram Reels is arguably the best way to propel your IG account into stardom. But how do you make Reels on Instagram and how can you effectively use them to get more customers and followers?

This article has everything you need to help you become an Instagram Reels wizard.

With VEED, you can master social media applications like Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram all in a day’s work. We’re all about making sure that your social media videos are the best they can be. You can even check our complete guide on Instagram’s video dimensions and formats.

Today, we’ll be going over:

  • What are Instagram Reels
  • Instagram vs TikTok: Why Instagram launched Reels
  • Everything about the Instagram Reels interface
  • Creating and uploading your professional Instagram Reel
  • How you can use Instagram Reels for your brand
  • Everything about Instagram Reels Algorithm
  • What are Instagram’s next plans for video

By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll be posting eye-catching Instagram Reels in no time. 


Instagram Reel Myths

Let’s start by debunking some of the most famous Instagram Reel myths. Social media is always full of false information and misconceptions that give new updates like Instagram Reels a bad name. Here are a few of the most prevalent ones that plague the internet.

Instagram Reels are Only for Entertainment

Instagram Reels are not exclusively for dancing, funny, and entertaining videos. Although its format highly encourages that, it also offers a lot of value for informational and educational content as well. Reels are for everyone on Instagram and are especially rewarding for trendsetters and videographers that have their own style.

It’s all about how you structure and present ideas that matter. That being said, this article will also go over the basics of publishing and making an Instagram Reel—so strap yourselves in. 

Instagram Reels are Hard to Make and Intimidating

This couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Reels was made to be simple, easy to use, and accessible to everyone wanting to make professional videos in just a couple of taps (like stories). We’ll be going over how to navigate around the interface later on. 

Another point that’s often feared is that it’s intimidating to make an Instagram Reel. This fear is particularly rooted in the fact that Instagram Reels are shared on a public timeline for all Instagram users to see, so perfecting your videos can feel intimidating.

Thankfully, you can always avoid showing your face by doing voiceover work. Editing and publishing Reels with voiceovers is easy to do, and even easier to edit with VEED.

What are Instagram Reels

To start with the basics, Reels is Instagram’s answer to the TikTok competition and a way to provide more entertainment for Instagram’s regular users. It’s a video feature that lets you create longer videos with more effects, like built-in audio, voiceovers, cool video effects, and more.

Users can record up to 60 seconds of video clips and share them on their Story and IG Feed at the same time. This is a game changer for advertising your content, because Reels play on your Story while staying on your Feed forever. You can even save these Reels as highlights if you want.

What makes this special from the random videos you post on Instagram is that Reels has its own IG page. You can browse through the Reels of other IG users, search by song, category, hashtag, and more. This publicizes your videos and lets other users watch your Reels even if they don’t follow or know about you in the slightest. Plus, it’s an absolute joy to scroll down these Reels and be entertained for hours.

Just by using a popular song, being related to a famous video, or riding on a trending hashtag, you can find your Reels on the front page of Instagram as well. Making sure your Reels are seen has a lot to do with the Instagram algorithm. We’ll go over everything we know about the Reels algorithm later on, so stick to the end!


Instagram VS TikTok: Why Did IG Launch Reels?

If you haven’t heard already, TikTok is quickly becoming a huge competitor for Instagram. 

Due to Instagram's previous focus on photos instead of videos, it became a challenge for IG to offer more ways to entertain its users. Even Instagram’s Head, Adam Mosseri, released a Twitter video explaining how Instagram had to change and adapt to the rising competition.

It’s no surprise that Instagram is feeling threatened by other entertainment apps like TikTok and YouTube. Due to the rapid changes and move to the digitization of everyday life, the online market is constantly full of users throughout the day.

This isn’t the first time Instagram has copied a feature from other apps, like Snapchat and Stories. And with how much Instagram Stories succeeded, we’re excited to see what Instagram does with Reels.


How to Use Instagram Reels

You can use Instagram Reels to advertise products for your business.

Whether you’re launching your own shop at home or are in charge of leading a social media campaign for your company, Reels is an absolute beast at advertising. By giving users a platform to create professional-quality and authentic content, IG accounts can quickly hook potential customers with just a Reel.

Another popular use for Reels is to jump on trends for free publicity. A quick video using a trending song can increase the chance of your video going viral. Although this sometimes requires you to dance and be on camera, that's part of the fun!

Reels are the perfect way to show the human side of your business without the pressure of having to “look professional” on camera. On social media anything from sharing memes in sweatpants to sharing market trends can be considered professional.

Navigating the Instagram Reels Interface

Easily access Instagram Reels by swiping left, the same way you would access your Instagram Story. When you’re there, simply swipe right to the REELS tab at the bottom side of your phone. It should be down there, grouped together with POST, LIVE and STORY. 

Here’s where you can edit, film and upload Instagram Reels directly. Yes, that’s right. You can edit videos with the Reels feature, but the experience might feel lackluster and weak. That’s why we recommend VEED’s Instagram Video Editor for a more powerful experience. You can even export the video file in a preset that was designed for Instagram, which preserves your video’s quality.

Instagram Reels has seven major options that you can use to edit your videos. Here’s a short list of the features available:

  • Add music
  • Recording length
  • Video speed
  • Effects
  • Touch up
  • Timer
  • Add text

Now these features are fairly straightforward, but there’s a time and situation when each of them shines. 

Add Music

This is the most important feature when it comes to increasing the chances of your Reels going viral. 

Instagram has a glossary of songs that you can easily add to your Reels as background music. A lot of these songs will likely be trendy and users can search for other videos that are using the same songs as yours. Finding popular songs that are trending on Instagram Reels is a great way to increase the chances of your Reels going viral.

Record Length

Since your Reels can also be posted as a Story, it’s important to know that a Story is 15 seconds long at most. 

Instagram lets you record Reels exactly 15, 30, 45, or 60 seconds long through the Record Length feature. This helps make your stories more compact, without having to worry about an extra one or three seconds that make your Instagram Story feel unplanned.

Record Speed

Yes, you can record slow-mo or sped-up video.  

Slow-mo shots are perfect for goofy situations, a slower and more detailed video, or for beautiful scenery. If you have a business that often uses fast machines, a slow-mo video of that process would make for an awesome Reel. On the other hand, sped-up videos are great for time-lapses like packing a product, decorating an entire room, or preparing the shop for service.

Effects

This option lets you add visual effects to your videos in multiple ways. 

There are a ton of options here and Instagram loves to change them every so often, so experiment a lot and see what works best for your audience and brand. Don’t be afraid to let loose here, Reels are meant to be entertaining so do your best to capture the attention of your viewers.If you aren’t finding the effects you want to use, you can always check the effect’s library. You can access that by tapping on the title or name of the effect you’re currently using, and then navigating to Browse Effects.

Touch Up

Having baby-smooth skin is a great way to substitute makeup and hide scars on your face. 

The Touch Up feature simply smoothes out your face to clear up any blemishes, blackheads, and other acne-related areas. The feature is straightforward but can be resource-intensive, so having it enabled might cause your videos to lag. If your recording does lag, we recommend lowering the level of the Touch Up feature until your camera records in silky smooth 60 FPS. 

That being said, just because your phone can handle the full Touch Up effect doesn’t mean you should use it often. It can look fake and unnatural to have a very smooth face, so aim for a texture that looks attractive but not weird.

Timer

Finally, we have the Timer feature as the last button. 

This option lets you choose a timer that counts down when you press the record button. When the timer is finished, your Reel will begin recording. This is a useful feature if you need to record yourself away from the phone and need time to position yourself correctly.

Add Text

This option lets you type up text to overlay on your video. There is also a caption text option where you can choose from a small variety of fonts to caption your videos.

How to Create and Upload Your First Instagram Reel

Stumped on what to create? Here are some ways you can validate your ideas.

  • Instagram Story Poll Stickers: talk about the topic on stories and use poll stickers to gauge if people have an interest in it
  • Instagram Story Question Stickers: Host an AMA (ask me anything) session and use the questions as inspiration for a reel
  • Look at your comment sections and competitor's comment sections to see what questions are a recurring theme you could cover
  • Observe what's trending on TikTok's sound library. If the content around a trending sound is relevant to you, consider covering it in a reel.

Validating your ideas is a smart way to decide if something is worth your time or not. Give this a shot next time you make anything!
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Ways to Upload Reels

You can upload an Instagram Reel in two ways. You can either record it on the spot or upload a video from your gallery.


Now that you know how the Instagram Reel interface works, it’s time to put them to work. If you’re posting your first Instagram Reel, we recommend doing a short introduction to your business or a teaser. You’ll have to brainstorm ideas for your first Reel to make sure it stands out and sets the standards for future videos.

Recording your Reels on the spot can be a powerful and simple way to capture fun memories, a rare moment, or a spontaneous video for your audience. That being said, it can be extremely hard to get it right on the first try. That’s where uploading a video from your gallery becomes the better option.

Uploading a video lets you:

  • Edit a video to your needs
  • Cut and replace bits of the video to add coherency, make it faster-paced, and feel much more professional
  • Add video effects outside of Instagram Reels to give your Reels an edge over the competition. 

How to Upload an Instagram Reel from your Gallery

From the front page of Instagram, just swipe right to access your Instagram Story. From there, tap on Reels at the bottom-most area of your screen to go to Instagram Reels. 

Another method that you can do is accessing it through your profile page. Simply tap on your profile icon at the bottom-right corner of your screen. When you’re there, press the plus icon (+) at the top-left corner on the opposite side. 

When you’re at the Instagram Reels interface, simply tap on the gallery icon at the bottom-left corner of your screen. Your gallery of videos will be brought up, where you can upload them as a Reel.


Instagram Business: How to Leverage Reels for Your Brand

Now that you know how to create and upload Instagram Reels, it’s time for you to leverage those videos to promote your business.

Reels have their own page on Instagram and are quickly becoming one of the main features of the social media app. Instagram has mentioned multiple times how Reels is going to be prioritized more over traditional content, like videos you post on your Feed with hashtags. 

Leverage Reels for your brand by:

  • Hopping on trends that are contextually relevant to your brand
  • Creating tutorials and other educational content
  • Sharing the behind the scenes of your day to day
  • Look at what competitors are doing and do your own improved take on their winning topics

Just by using popular songs as background music, you can let Instagram put your Reels on the front page. There are hundreds of thousands of users on Instagram who are continually scrolling through IG Reels to pass the time. That means there’s a large market of consumers who would love to see what you’re all about, starting with an Instagram Reel.

To guide you more on this, we’ll talk about the best practices for Instagram Reels in the next method.

Instagram Reels Best Practices for Shooting & Editing Content

There are a lot of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to Instagram Reels. Although it’s a platform that encourages new talent, learning a few tried and tested video strategies will help you market your Reels better.

Remove Watermarks From Other Apps

Promoting your brand on both TikTok and Instagram is fair game and a great business decision. However, Instagram doesn’t appreciate the TikTok watermark on your videos. According to several credible articles and influencers, Instagram’s algorithm will be on the lookout for watermarks to other applications, like TikTok.

If you want to boost your chances of getting picked up by the algorithm and onto the front page of Instagram, remove your watermarks. You can easily remove TikTok’s watermarks through several online tools on the internet. Taking that extra step can mean the difference between going viral or not.

Solve Problems or Educate

Instagram Reels that educate or solve problems have a better chance of being shared to friends with the same problem. Whether it’s a fun fact, a random trivia, or a life hack that’s relevant to your business, a video that solves a problem will be a goldmine of happy resolutions.

Educating is also a popular method that you should also try and implement. There are hundreds of misconceptions out there and having a leading voice that debunks those myths can make you a go-to for reliability and factual products. For example, if you’re in the fitness industry, then debunking weight loss pills or fad diets in simple, bite-sized Instagram Reels can be sensational for views. Trust us, it's not all about dancing trends!

Create a Hook and Add Suspense 

This sounds much simpler than it is, but learning about it is the first step to a better video.

Creating a hook means finding a way to get your viewers “hooked” to your video. You can do this by talking about something exciting, shocking, or interesting right at the start. Forget about introducing yourself or where you’re from, talk about why you’re important. Something like “Here’s how I…” is a great and classic hook, but let your creativity come up with other unique ways to catch attention.

Finally, don’t forget to add suspense in your videos so that your viewers are always waiting for the punchline. Even if people tap and like your Instagram Reels, making sure that your video is being watched all the way to the end is also something you have to consider. YouTube is very particular about watch time with their videos and we think that Instagram is no different. 

Adding suspense to your Instagram Reels makes viewers watch your videos longer and feel satisfied when they reach the punchline. Just make sure it isn’t cheesy or tackily done, and you’ll find that this recipe is a great way to get views and become viral.

Understand Instagram’s Video Dimensions and Formats

We’ve already linked a guide to this above, but understanding Instagram’s video specs is a crucial part of being on top of your game.

IG video dimensions change depending on how it’s being viewed, so learning about the aspect ratios help you frame your Reels for the better. In fact, Instagram’s specs are so important that simply uploading the wrong video format can cost you in video and sound quality. If you haven’t yet, check out our complete guide on the best Instagram video dimensions.

Know Your Audience

Lastly, knowing your audience will play a huge part in the success of your Reels. Create opportunities to get to know your audience so you never have to guess what they want and who they truly are.

If you’re selling a tech product, doing TikTok dances on your Instagram Reels isn’t going to get you more customers. Instead, you should try talking about your product, the real-life situations it can be used in, and film those events instead.

What’s Next For Instagram’s Future with Video?

Instagram has been taking a larger focus on video and ramping up its entertainment factor.

With the rise of video-sharing platforms like YouTube and TikTok, it’s not hard to see why Instagram is adapting to the competition. Video appears to be the future of Instagram, with IGTV and Reels leading the way. With the internet becoming much faster for everyone, loading videos is no longer a heavy task that Instagram users scroll past through.

Posting and sharing your brand through videos definitely seems like the way to go and Reels is the best way to do it right now.

How to Make Reels on Instagram: The Only Guide You'll Need

Mako Young

Mako is a freelance tech writer with a passion for writing about the best tools in the market. Make your life better one article at a time.