When you want to boost your engagement on Instagram, you’ve got to up your Reels game.
Unlike Instagram Stories, which are a series of short-form videos that expire after a certain amount of time, and IGTV, which are long-form videos that may be edited and produced, Instagram Reels are short-form videos that can be kept on your profile indefinitely. They can only be up to a minute in length. While Reels can be presented as a series, each video in the feed stands alone. You can find them on your Reels and Explore tabs.
If that sounds eerily familiar, well, that’s because Reels is very much like TikTok. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, especially since the Head of Instagram himself said that TikTok is their direct competitor right now.
Instagram Reels is a great place to show off a behind-the-scenes look at you and your brand, as well as unscripted peeks at your products or services. This feature on the app has a very laid-back nature, which might just remove some of the stress that comes with producing and editing a video or presenting a live video.
Of course, getting massive amounts of engagement on the content you’ll produce will require a lot of research and brain power. You never know if the content you worked so hard to develop will be featured on the Reels tab. That’s why we’ve compiled a few recommendations below to give you a better chance of increasing your exposure and generating more engagement.
Keep An Eye On Trends
When it comes to Reels, trends are your best friend. This allows you to view what’s trending on the platform in terms of video formats and sound effects. Then, if you create content in this manner, you’ll see an increase in both views and interactions. The trick is to act quickly when new trends emerge.
Keep an eye on what’s going on on TikTok. You can spot the current trends on the platform by scrolling through your For You Page. Those trends usually take a while to show on Reels, giving you a head start on creating material before the rest of the world.
Some of the best sources of trends are influencers on social media. They’ll jump on anything trending very quickly, so keep your eyes peeled.
Incorporate Unique and Creative Edits and Transitions In Your Reels
You might believe that 15 seconds is enough time for everybody to watch a video from beginning to end, but with people’s attention spans decreasing by the minute, 15 seconds can be too much time to invest in a boring video. Add some interesting editing techniques and unique transitions to keep viewers’ attention focused on your Reel for a longer time.
This can be especially useful if your video isn’t on the fun side, such as when you’re creating a recap of the trade expos or shows your brand participated in or when you’re launching a brand new product with an explainer video.
You don’t have to do anything super complicated, as edits can be as simple as stopping and starting the recording to create a cut. Then you can reposition yourself in front of the camera, record at a different angle, or zoom in on yourself or on your subject.
Use What’s Already There To Create Your Content
As much as possible, use the editing tools, music, and visual effects that Reels already has to make your videos stand out. Instagram even suggests that you utilize them. In true Instagram fashion, whenever a new feature is published, they want you to utilize it, and they will boost your exposure if you use it and the tools on the app connected to it frequently.
Maximize your reach by recording, editing, and adding effects to your Reels from within the app instead of uploading a video you’ve recorded elsewhere.
Don’t Upload Videos With The TikTok Watermark On Them
It’s hard to build a brand, especially when social media keeps evolving and coming up with new things. That’s why we want to work smarter, not harder. Because of this, we know it’s very tempting to just publish the same videos for both Instagram Reels and TikTok. Why not? It will certainly save you a lot of time when producing, recording, and editing a video. However, you shouldn’t shoot the video on either of those platforms because it will have a watermark.
Instagram has already stated that Reels with a TikTok watermark would not be promoted by its algorithm. This means you’ll have to record and edit your video in the native camera app, then publish it to each platform separately. If you really want to do this, you can use TikTok to record your video and look for a tool to remove the watermark.
Don’t Forget To Include Closed Captions
Everyone is in such a hurry to get their stuff out there that they forget to include captions in their Reels. But this just isn’t acceptable anymore. There are likely people in your audience who are deaf or hard of hearing and cannot hear what you’re saying. That means viewers won’t be able to watch your Reels unless they’re accompanied by captions. You’ll also need to keep in mind that some people scroll through their feeds with the sound turned off.
Instagram has made it simple for creators by letting them use the caption sticker in their Stories and Reels. Simply set the captions on your Reels in a place where they will not be obstructed by any element on the screen.
Customize Your Thumbnails
When you make a new Instagram reel, you can choose a thumbnail, which is the still image that will appear on your profile. You have the option of selecting a clip from your video or uploading a new image. A good rule of thumb is to give your Reels a consistent, branded look by designing a title template.
While these thumbnails will not appear on the Explore feed, people viewing your Instagram profile will. With these customized designs, it will make it easier for them to look for videos of interest, find answers to questions they may have, and get a sense of the type of content you post without having to scroll through all of your Reels.
Leverage Your Community’s Curiosity
Nothing beats the brainpower of your own community when it comes to coming up with content ideas.
Instead of through Stories or IG Live, try answering questions using Reels. With this, you’ll have an unending stream of content ideas if you end one of your reels with a call to action (CTA) for folks to leave more questions for you in the comments.
Just grab a question from one of those comments and incorporate it into your next Reel. If your community is curious, you’ll have an endless stream of content right under your nose. They’ll keep coming back for more because they want their questions answered. The cycle continues—the more questions you answer, the more questions you’ll get.
Engage With Your Audience
Communities are not one-sided. You have to be there for your audience, too. If your Instagram videos receive comments, you’ll need to answer quickly to keep the conversation alive.
As your Instagram following grows, your ability to respond to every comment will diminish over time. However, while you have the time, look through the comments and answer any viewers’ questions as often as you can without placing too much pressure on yourself.
One thing that will never change, whether you’re posting a Story, an IGTV video, or just a regular ol’ Instagram post, is the fact that you have to be consistent. Content creation revolves around consistency.
Showing up and showing up often is the best strategy to build your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your profession. You have to ensure that you stay top-of-mind for your audience by providing them with new and valuable information to consume.
If you’re serious about using Reels as part of your content strategy, post as regularly as you can so that more and more people will have the opportunity to see and interact with your content. It’s the most effective way to ensure that you’re getting the results you want to see when it comes to expanding your Instagram following.
Reels Are The Future of Instagram
With TikTok still rising exponentially, there’s no doubt that Instagram will continue to push video content, whether short-form or long-form, forward.
It’s a good thing Reels are really, really fun! They’re short and they challenge you to keep your content snappy but still sweet. However, Reels can also be really difficult, too, especially when you have to take consistency into account.
Get creative! Don’t be afraid to experiment, but also don’t forget that the content you have to produce should not only entertain, but also give value to your audience.
Chatty is a freelance writer from Manila. She finds joy in inspiring and educating others through writing. That’s why aside from her job as a language evaluator for local and international students, she spends her leisure time writing about various topics such as lifestyle, technology, and business.