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What Is Instagram Reels & How To Use It To Give Your Account A Boost

By Laurence L.

What is Instagram Reels and how to use this feature for your business

You may have noticed this August that Instagram launched Reels, a feature that allows users to record 15-second videos with audio, effects, and creative personalization. Users can record a series of videos in 15-second increments each, making Reels a similar platform to TikTok. What’s special about Reels and how can you utilize it into your social media marketing plan for your business? Let’s take a look.

What is Instagram Reels?

Introducing Instagram Reels

Photo Source: Instagram

Well, as we noted above, Reels seems to be Instagram’s answer to TikTok. However, with its limit of 15 seconds a clip, Reels doesn’t provide as long a time as TikTok’s one-minute limit. But it’s Instagram’s own version of a built-in video feature that can give users a similar experience to TikTok. It should be noted that Reels was released during a time where TikTok faced much scrutiny, even with a possibility of being banned from the U.S. (this has since changed with a purchase by Walmart and Oracle). Thus, it’s seen by many as Instagram even trying to replace TikTok during a turbulent time.

What’s the difference between Instagram Reels and TikTok?

Since they’re somewhat similar, you may be thinking: what is the difference between this and TikTok, then? They both allow users to film content, edit it with timing effects and visuals, and post, right? Right — but there are still some technical differences and contrasts in features.

To start, TikTok is an entire platform in itself and its only function is for users to upload video clips. Instagram, as many of us know, is more dynamic, with regular photo posts, video posts, and Stories. Reels is just a built-in feature for you to utilize should you want it.

Also, TikTok is notorious for letting users post together (known as “dueting”), but Instagram Reels does not currently support this feature.

An example of TikTok dueting

Photo Source: Advertisemint

TikTok users can also upload their own music into the app itself, while Instagram doesn’t support this, instead, offering a selection of licensed music to use (similar to what is offered in Instagram Stories).

And lastly, the most obvious difference is length of video clips, with TikTok allowing users up to one minute per clip while Instagram sticks to 15-second limits.

How do you create an Instagram Reel?

Want to try out Reels? It’s simple. Just go to your camera when in the Instagram app and select the “Reels” option.

Creating an Instagram Reel

Point and shoot at what you want. Try out filters to add effects to your shot, but take note that some require a human face to be in frame for effect.

Applying filters to an Instagram Reel

You can also browse the Music option to add a track to your shot.

Adding music to your Instagram Reel

Going to do a dance or something where all hands are needed? Simply set the timer option on Reels and have everyone get in frame.

Setting timer options for Instagram Reels

Once you finish your reel, you have the opportunity to caption it and choose a cover image for the clip. You can share to specific followers or post it directly to your feed.

Writing a caption

Photo Source: Instagram

Like with Instagram Stories, your Reels (if posted to your Stories) will vanish after 24 hours. However, you can also post them to your regular feed, where they will permanently stay.

How do you watch Instagram Reels?

Reels appear in a person’s regular post feed, and you can identify what posts are Reels based off of the Reels icon (note on desktop, the Instagram feed still uses a regular video icon though).

Mobile Feed

How Instagram Reels are displayed in mobile feed

Desktop Feed

How Instagram Reels are displayed in desktop feed

Or to just make things easier, simply click the Reels tab to view all a profile’s Reels.

Viewing all profile's Reels

Want to explore a wider variety of Reels? Hop into your Explore tab on Instagram to see a randomly-generated Reel based off of currently trending posts.

Exploring the Reels

Tap in to view and scroll downwards to view a feed of other Reels (Instagram oddly does not have a full feed page for Reels, and just a vertical browsing option for these).

How to use Instagram Reels for your business

So if you know how to use Reels, you might be left thinking then: how can I utilize this to leverage my business? And do I need to?

Generally speaking, just having an Instagram account for your business with regular content that is a balance of sales-driven and informational, entertaining content is already great. Using Stories every once in a while is great for connecting and netting engagement and impressions.

But with Reels, it really depends on your industry and what type of product or service you provide. And your audience is crucial too, since Reels aims for quick, digestible content. Generally, everyone likes quicker, more succinct content — but let’s say you are a company specializing in tutoring or servicing people with computer skills via demos; Reels might not be the best choice for you since your video content tends to skew longer.

An example of using Reels to promote a trailer

Netflix uses a Reel to promote a 15-second trailer for a show.

But what are some industries that could fare well with Reels?

For example, if you sell furniture that requires minimal assembly, Reels is a great way to showcase a step-by-step assembly process — you can utilize the editing tools inside Reels to create stop-motion clips (clips where one scene ends and jumps into the next) or use the speed-up feature to create a timelapse-like clip. Or if you are a fashion company, you can utilize Reels to showcase a quick pick of outfits or stylizing choices in 15 seconds. Or if you are a media company, you can harness the power of 15 seconds to put out teasers or quick-bite content.

The editing power of Reels gives it a punch that Stories, for example, does not have (unless you have a team to pre-produce video in advance for you to upload).

An example of using Reels to collaborate with an influencer

Walmart partners with musician/TikTok star Jack Wright for a fashion-focused Reel.

If Instagram Reels is a fit for your company, you can, like with Stories and regular posts, partner with influencers to produce bite-sized content. This can bring in money and exposure to your brand to the right audience.

An example of reposting content from TikTok

Netflix reposts a TikTok video to poke fun at the transition from September to October.

And if you’re already a user of TikTok, you can already repost your videos from there onto Instagram Reels. This type of cross-promotion can help bring your audience from Instagram over to TikTok if they’ve not already joined or interacted with your brand on there.

SUMMARY: Instagram Reels is a fun, built-in feature inside Instagram that allows you to shoot and edit 15-second video clips: quick, easy-to-digest content for your audience. It’s an alternative to TikTok in an already established platform, which is great. It offers another avenue for pushing out promo content, and it’s up to you to decide if it is a right fit for your brand.

By Laurence L.
Laurence is a copywriter and editor at AliDropship. Having graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, he has worked in marketing and ecommerce for over 8 years. He loves to educate and teach audiences about tips for dropshipping and social media marketing.

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