A Guide to Instagram Reels

Written by Courtney Raguso, Social Media Content Creator

Launched back in August of 2020, Instagram Reels has grown in popularity for creators and brands alike, offering users a new way to create fun, engaging short form video content on their profile and fuel trends. With a 15-30 second limit, you can record multi-clip videos and edit them with audio, AR effects and creative tools. You can share content with your followers on your Feed, or through a space called Explore, if you have a public account. Similar to TikTok’s For You Page, Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to go viral and reach an unlimited audience. It also has a Duet-like feature called Remix which allows users to effectively interact with other clips and create their own versions of the trend. Although it has grown major popularity in India due to the TikTok ban that was enforced last year, these new tools allow many creators across 50 other countries to diversify content across their platforms instead of always heading to TikTok for its interface and features. It was also recently reported that Instagram is even offering TikTok stars new contracts to produce exclusive content on its platform instead. So Reels can be a potential game changer for many people here.

How it works is simple. The content is favored when it’s authentic, entertaining, and creative. What you see is likely curated by who you follow, what content you interact with, and where you’re located, however, the TikTok “For You Page” is very customized to your interests, whereas the Instagram Reels Explore Page is more of a melting pot of content. It’s recommended that you try to make use of the tools, text over video, the AR effects, and keep the camera vertical. It’s a good idea to use hashtags and descriptive captions to let Instagram know what you’re talking about. Videos that are not legible or meet community guidelines, or contain logos or watermarks, are less discoverable on the Reels tab. When it comes to the reasoning behind Reels, it’s more than just mimicking another app that’s come up with a successful feature, but also the market cap for advertisers. According to recent studies, Millennials are now surpassing Gen Z in TikTok’s user base. Knowing that Millenials make up the largest consumer demographic, it’s clear to see that they have a lot of buying power. Instagram tends to be more of a Millenial hub than it is for Gen Z, but by adding the informal TikTok-like feature, it offers the best of both worlds. Unlike IGTV, what makes Reels special is that it fills the gap for informal content and has a longer shelf life than 24 hours. Instagram has been used for posting pretty photos and showing off a bit. However, Reels encourages more authenticity and rawness from creators, which in the long run, can be a very beneficial thing for brands, especially since they can sell directly on the app. 

With over 1 billion active users already on Instagram, Instagram Reels offers a great opportunity for brands to build their community and increase reach. It also allows them to build genuine relationships within their community and reveal that not-so-perfect side of the brand, whether it’s showing the craziness behind the scenes or just your humorous personality. Remember, people are behind the brand, so you have to show what it’s made of. Customers look for authenticity in a brand, and right now trust is at an all time low when it comes to consumers’ attitudes towards brands. That’s why Reels is such an important feature; it allows people and brands to really show off their true self and build trust with their audience. It’s also helpful to post educational content and showcase the products in a creative way. Educational content is considered valuable entertainment, which is the key to successful content. Sharing helpful tips, hacks or how tos can help put you in the spotlight as an expert of your field, which would attract people interested in that niche topic and are looking for solutions your content can provide them. Now if you want to increase sales and traffic to your IG Shop, showcasing your products in your Reels is a great way to do that. That can be a how to video or styling tips depending on your product or service. The addition of shoppable products is another great tool that offers a way to tag your products directly, which makes it easy for shoppers to shop on your page.

Sometimes when something works, even if it’s not your idea, you just have to admit it works. Just look at Snapchat’s story feature. Instagram and Facebook hopped on that trend not long after they realized it was really picking up with users. Then Snapchat, Instagram and even YouTube copied TikTok once short form vertical video gained traction. People want to share and not always have to be so formal about it. We are impatient creatures and consume content at a fast pace. As Instagram states, “Reels gives people new ways to express themselves, discover more of what they love on Instagram, and help anyone with the ambition of becoming a creator take center stage”. For brands, it can become transformative especially with ads. Since beginning last month in Australia, Brazil, Germany, and India, Instagram has extended Reels ads testing to Canada, France, the UK, and the U.S. Brands that will be part of the new test. As of right now, Instagram is starting to test a feature called “Bonuses” that will incentivize creators to earn money through Reels that go viral, creating an opportunity for brands to work with creators and grow their reach even more. So it’s pretty clear that Reels is something with which you should start experimenting. As we have said in the past, when you diversify your content, you will begin to see what works and what doesn’t and focus on taking those opportunities out there and applying it to your brand. If you want to get started with Reels, reach out to our team, and we will get you up and running!

At MSM DesignZ, we put in the time and energy needed for success, so you can ensure you are using every dollar for maximum return. With over 20 years in the business, we have watched marketing evolve from traditional to digital. Whether you need a website refresh, more attractive email, or a quality online presence, we can do it all. When we take on a client, we put in 110% and treat every brand as if it’s our own. We will always continue to place our clients’ needs at the heart of our operations. From web development to social media management, we’ll work directly with you to build a personalized strategy to not only retain but also gain business. We are assisting in all areas for our clients. Visit our contact page at, and we’ll work with you to devise a custom plan that will keep your brand alive and well. We look forward to working with you!