This time last year, life was very different on social.  Some of us thought a dancing puppy GIF was as snappy as a piece of social media content could get.  Then came a bunch of new words – COVID, lockdown, furlough and Tik Tok, the ultimate boredom buster.  But in August, Instagram launched Reels – what they call ‘a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram’.  It meant we could create all this fun stuff we thought we were way too old for, but in the comfort of our own cosy social media environment.  And, on the plus side, it seems a lot less likely to get banned than Tik Tok.  Which is a bonus 👊

What you need to know about Reels is simple.  It’s yet another fun way of bringing your products and services to life on social.  The first time you use it, you’ll find it fiddly.  You’ll wonder why on earth you bothered as you just can’t position that text in the spot you want it.  But once you start thinking of ideas, you’ll soon grow to love the creativity it gives you ❤️

Where do I start?

The first thing to do is check out how other people are using it, so here are some examples of recent Reels to give you some ideas about how to showcase your own brand on Instagram.  Here’s some fun pieces of content which will inspire you to give it a go.

Proper Props

Fashion house Balmain went crazy with the props for this Reel, showcasing a fashion week, a quirky location and, most importantly, a brand new product all in one snappy Reel.

Show it off, show it off

You could use Reels to promote new products or trends at whatever stage you’re at – Miley Cyrus used the platform to tease her brand new single, ‘Midnight Sky’. 

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(Yes, it’s a little ‘Strictly’, but this was the least risque of them.)

And TopShop regularly showcase their new products, managing to squeeze several outfit changes into their 15 seconds.

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Feeling cosy, looking chic. 📸 @_marisamartins_ #TopshopStyle #firstreels #reels

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It’s a lot more fun than a static image on a website, or those corny catwalk videos, and it makes you think you’re watching an awards show, without lasting hours.  Win win.

Sprechen Sie Insta?

Thinking of new ways to communicate?  This Reel about British Sign Language is fantastic.  It’s informative, fun and the perfect example of how to communicate several pieces of information using just the tools within Reels.  Not only do you have the ability to cut clips together, you can also add words and stickers to make it pop. 

Make current affairs funny, like comedian Kae Kurd – short, sharp clips always create dramatic effect. 

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How people wear masks

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Or break it down into simple steps (like this Bobbi Brown UK tutorial.

Or just have some fun while supporting a good cause – Fearne Cotton is starting a #bigbounceback campaign for breast cancer CoppaFeel – so she’s bouncing.  Obvs.

Reuse, recycle, repurpose 

If you have existing archive footage, like this BBC Earth clip from Deadly 60, use it on Reels!  Add some music and – hey presto – brand new content (which was, like, actually filmed in 2012.) 

Member of staff’s birthday?  Pull out some stuff from the archives to celebrate, just like Glamour UK did with Beyonce.

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Happy birthday #QueenBee 🔥 Beyoncé turns 39 today, so here’s a reminder of just how iconic she is. #BeyDay

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And lastly.  There’s literally no purpose to this Alfie the Alpaca video – but we loved it.  It’s on the official Instagram feed no less.  Just try to watch it without saying ‘boop’ for the next half hour.

Remember, remember…

Keep it short – like Stories, it needs to be 15 seconds long, or quicker 💨

Make it vertical – it just won’t work otherwise.  All existing video content needs to be shot in portrait to fit in the Reels template.  Otherwise you’ll lose half your beautiful backdrop or a whole business partner 🙈

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Fit for Business from 24 Degrees… a Reels intro 😉 Featuring @ollieberquez and @littlepiggyuk 🙌

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Listen up – don’t be too disappointed if you can’t add music.  Although this is one of the more fun elements of Reels, Instagram has always been inconsistent in this area.  If you have a business account, the chances are, you’ve never been able to add music to a Story.  The small number of businesses who can add music are like gold dust.  And nobody knows how to become a chosen one (unless you’re Mourinho).  Unfortunately the same applies to Reels.  But beware.  Don’t be tempted to make the swap back to a personal account – you’re likely to lose all your insights, and those super valuable tools you use to work out whether your beach selfie really worked on the business profile 👙

Love at first sight – don’t forget to choose a cover image before posting (in fact, this goes for any Instagram video content) – that second where you have your eyes closed and mouth wide open?  It’s probably not the image that’s going to encourage people to stick around 😍

Feature length – if Instagram chooses your Reel as a ‘featured’ piece of content, the reach can be phenomenal.  Check these out via your Explore area every now and again by clicking on the magnifying glass for ideas.  Just don’t get stuck down the rabbit hole and forget what you were looking for 🔎

New versus recycled – you can use the Reels tool to film new clips, but you can also use it to edit an existing video or pull a few together to create one brand new Reel.  Still images need not apply – IT. HAS. TO. BE. VIDEO 🎞️

Caption that – if this is going to appear on your grid, you need to add a caption like you would a usual post 📝

So, if IGTV passed you by, and you’re scared of Stories, throw yourself in the deep end and have some fun with Reels.  Remember, it’s still in its infancy and you won’t know if you love it until you try it.  Plus there’s no such thing as a bad Reel.  Really.

PS: Want to give it a go but need a helping hand or two? Book in for your free social media consultation and we’ll get you *reeling* with excitement in no time. Sorry not sorry.