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How To Guide - 10 ideas to improve your Insta Reel game.

Instagram reels - what does that do to you when you hear those words?! Love them, hate them, a shudder of fear maybe or perhaps a smile as you count the lost hours of dog/cake/fridge washing you've accidentally watched!?

Whether we like it or not, the 9:16 video format is here to stay. You might be using videos on both TikTok & Insta (more on that later) and feel that videos are really unlocking engagement or perhaps you've been trying a while and feel that you've not got the traction you hoped for.

Either way, there is some clear algorithm information we can learn from Meta to make the most of our efforts and there are some ideas and trends for 2024 that might just boost your video prowess.

Let's dive in!

  1. Insta Reels still have the highest reach rate (the number of accounts the reel ends up in front of) at nearly 31% and is x2 more popular than other Insta post types. Engagement on Reels has slightly dropped however, so (according to Sprout Social) we need to up our game in terms of attractive, inspiring and entertaining posts.

  2. The algorithm is ultimately trying to deliver reels to users based on what they think that user wants to watch. This will be based on what they've previously engaged with, what topics of content they've enjoyed (cooking, dogs, small business etc) and also when users are scrolling most often. This means we need to know our ideal customer very well. When are they likely to scroll (e.g. are they working & scrolling early or at lunch break), what their other interests are (e.g. you want them to be attracted to your earrings but they are likely to be boho, love nature & are fans of interior design so you can align to their vibe) and understanding what other brands they might love so you can get into their mindset. Here are some ideas:

  • Photo dump of the last month

  • Time-lapse of how you make/pack/work

  • A tour around your space/office/favourite haunt

  • Real time 'wish you were here'

  • Tips or steps that help in you sector

  • Your POV (point of view) or opinion

  • Add customer comments to your reel using stickers or text

  • Videos about what's gone wrong or funny fail

  • Before & after videos

  • Introduction to you using text or speaking to video (with captions)

  • Go through an FAQ and answer it

  • Share stats that might surprise or inspire

  • Solve a problem by sharing a great solution

  1. Insta is telling us that entertainment and inspiration are top winners in terms of reel content. This doesn't mean you have to do magic tricks or be on camera! However, it does mean we need to create little twists, ask questions, add text, create relatable content, provide real time peeks, offer opinion, give answers, share 'real' life and not necessarily just the polished stuff and (important one!) add our brand personality. After all, we want our reels to help folks get to know us.

  2. We know that Instagram downgrades any videos that have another watermark on them or have been obviously watermarked from other platforms. This means never post direct from TikTok folks! Try creating your videos in Canva then you can use similar content but send one to TikTok and one to Insta so that's it's bespoke for each audience type.

  3. Ensure that you always video in portrait and 9:16 mode. This means you're going to need to have landscape video for YouTube & possibly Facebook if you're using those platforms and portrait video for Insta and TikTok. Meta wants the reel experience to be immersive. So....make sure your day to day images and videos are in portrait mode so you have a good stock to use.

  4. Don't be afraid of templates! There are lots of 'trending' ones on both Instagram app and Canva for example. These allow you to slot in your images or video quickly and easily and edit text and colours to suit. Warning....ensure that the templates you choose are 'on brand' for your business and feel part of what your audience are looking for. Have some fun with them too. If a reel flops then you can simply archive it!

  5. Trending music really makes a different to engagement levels. Weird...because some of them are super annoying! However, think about your average reel scroller who is enjoying a certain type of music, vibe or voice over and will linger longer on their favourites.

  6. Use subtitles if you're speaking on your reel to make it more accessible and for those watching in silence. Simply do your VoiceOver for the video (in app) and use the 'sticker' option to auto generate 'captions'.

  7. The big question is how you get folks to more with your business? Try to remind viewers to head to your bio early on in your captions (the text underneath), maybe verbally in the video or as a sticker on the reel itself. Maybe you've shared a tip or idea that you can then drive folks to read in full in a blog, you want them to buy the product or service or sign up to an email.

  8. Use up to 5 hashtags in your reels too. This helps Instagram understand the content type to understand who might like it but also help your content be found by users using the search tool in app. If users are looking for handmade ceramics then be sure your chosen hashtags say exactly what you're sharing. Use the search tool yourself first to understand super relevant hashtags for you or check out successful accounts in your sector to see what they consistently use.

  9. Bonus tip! Make your reels saveable i.e. that the tip, idea or inspiration was so helpful that users save your reel for later. Think carefully about how your content could be useful or inspiring enough to save.


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