Instagram Reels lets you produce and share short, fun, and engaging videos that — unlike Instagram Stories — don’t vanish after 24 hours.
Although Instagram took heat for copying TikTok, the positive feedback from brands, influencers and audiences points to short form video as a winning format. As online audiences give more attention to short videos, Instagram is rewarding brands and creators that produce Reels content and help it earn those eyeballs and compete with TikTok.
Brands like Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Netflix, Walmart, and ASOS are benefiting from Reels. Creators are embracing Instagram Reels alongside TikTok. And, audiences are engaging with Reels at a higher rate than with photography content.
Now that you can combine short form video with the brand discovery power of Instagram, will Reels be your next big growth hack?
So what are Instagram Reels?
How do they work?
How can you — as a brand or influencer — use them to market your business?
What Are Instagram Reels and Why Do They Matter?
Instagram Reels are videos of up to 60 seconds. Users can post them on their Reels tab, Stories, and feed.
Like TikTok, Reels offers editing tools that let users crank out fun and engaging videos. Reels video clips can include captions, filters, stickers, and/or interactive backgrounds.
Instagram Reels offer marketing that appeals to younger demographics. Per the Pew Research Center, 75% of 18 to 24-year-olds use Instagram and 47% of 30 to 49-year-olds.
Plus, Instagram video content generates 49% more engagement than static images. The binge appeal of Reels can help to promote your products to these younger audiences.
In short, if you are selling products online, Reels deserve your attention.
How Can Brands Benefit From Reels?
Video Generates Higher Content Engagement
When Facebook unpacks a new feature to its social networks, they usually prioritize that feature. And that rings true for Instagram Reels.
Users are experiencing better reach and engagement on Instagram Reels compared to other content formats on the platform. This happens even with similar or same content posted in different places.
What’s more — video is also the best way to increase Instagram post engagements. One study found the average number of comments on Instagram videos to be more than double that of images:
When you publish Reels content, many factors determine if you get audience attention. For instance: it’s important to know the best times to post on Instagram for the best exposure. Also, you can add stickers and hashtags, add a call to action, or tag your top fans.
Reels are budget-friendly. At 60 seconds or fewer, there's no need to stress over advanced production methods or big budgets.
Video Encourages Consumers to Buy
According to Animoto survey data, videos have a positive effect on online buying decisions and create brand engagement. Based on the survey:
73% of consumers are more prone to buy after watching videos describing and clarifying a product or service
96% of consumers benefit from videos when making buying decisions online
71% of consumers report that watching video content created by companies offers them a positive impression of the brand
In short, if you want to sell via Instagram videos, Reels may be your best bet.
According to eMarketer, 62% of consumers report they’re more likely to buy an item after seeing user-generated photos and videos.
When asked why they look for user-generated content (UGC) -- like customer videos or photos -- they replied with:
Reels Are Easy to Create
Often, video content demands a big investment — money, time, and production. But much like TikTok, Reels are short videos — a maximum of 60 seconds — which don’t need much investment and can be made inside the app.
Besides being easy to create, they are quick to consume. Thus, viewers can learn about your brand without spending much time.
Reels Content Is Permanent
Unlike Instagram Stories, the Reels content is permanent. And since the content is quick to create, it’s advisable to set time aside to batch-create many different reels and publish them over time.
Reels Can Increase Your Traffic and Conversions
You can create how-to and product videos on Reels to drive traffic and boost conversion.
How-to videos: How-to videos find consumers with prime buying intent. The viewer either has a problem they want to solve or something they wish to learn. It’s your duty to teach them how to do it. In fact, about one-third of millennials report they bought an item after watching a how-to video about it.
Devise and share the uses of your product. For instance: show how to tie a tie or how to put a harness on your cat. Avoid selling your product or service in such videos. Rather, focus on educating.
Conversion-boosting videos: Since website visitors are 64% to 85% more likely to buy an item after watching a video about it, produce short videos to show benefits and features of the items and publish them on your Reels.
For instance, if you own a pet food store, rather than just putting out photos in your Reels, add a video of a cat eating your food. And if you offer services, use videos to describe which problem your service solves and how it does so.
Showcase Brand Personality or Relatability
Does your brand need a dose of personality or humanizing? Try creating Instagram Reels with a human face in them.
Consumers want to be seen and treated as human beings. Authentic content with a relatable human face can help build the relationship with your brand.
Reels Content is Recyclable to Other Platforms
Like other content you produce, Reels can be repurposed. You can share them on your Story, if relevant. You can also download the video and publish it on your TikTok account or Stories through other platforms.
If it seems fitting, then add it to your site or portfolio. The most efficient marketers are those who understand how to recycle content.
15 Ways to Use Instagram Reels for Business
Now that you know how beneficial Reels can be for business, here are 15 ways to jumpstart your Instagram Reels content creation:
1. Showcase New Products
Promote new products or line extensions using well-written captions and AR (augmented reality) overlays. Reels can help introduce a wide range of new products from apparel, to pet food to beverages or consumer electronics. You can show product benefits or teach how something works. A mix of photos and video snippets can help offer insights into your products.
2. Answer Common Questions
Create short how-to videos to help solve customer problems. For instance: if you sell pet treats, create a video for how to use treats when training a pet. Or, if you sell pet crates, create Reels on how to “crate train” your puppy.
Tip: Your customer-facing employees are a great resource for uncovering common customer problems.
3. Publish Insider Tips and Tricks
Tips and tricks make engaging, valuable content for Instagram Reels. Below are some guidelines to help you with this:
Don’t stress if your advice is straight and super simple. Something obvious to you might be transformational for a consumer.
Create content based on your customer queries. Think about the frequently asked questions your customers ask.
Keep the tips relevant to your business. For example, if you sell fast fashion, content on how to style the latest fashion trends may be more relevant than how to recycle vintage clothing.
Ask your audience for feedback in the comments. Users are a great source of content ideas. Remember to ask what topics they want to see next.
Add visuals if possible. It’s one thing to describe how to create a flower arrangement in 3 easy steps, and it’s another to show it.
4. Suggest Use Cases
Be creative here. For example:
Besides talking about the shoes you sell, offer styling ideas for the different colors. User-generated content can be useful for this.
Merge user-generated Instagram Reels. For example, show how sharing your favorite snacks helps new college students to make new friends.
Show an air purifier in different rooms of a home, with different users, and even with the family pet as you educate about the use cases for this appliance.
Influencer endorsements can boost product awareness and earn credibility for your brand. Therefore asking relevant influencers to make and share content for you is an excellent choice.
Influencers can create short reviews, state how the product helps, and show how it fits into their lives. These promotions can offer social proof, boost your credibility and authenticity as well as educate your audience.
What's more, you can recycle influencer content for your ads, newsletters, social accounts, and website. The relatable content of influencers can boost ad performance and increase website conversions.
6. Post Behind-the-Scenes Videos
Posting behind-the-scenes content humanizes your business. And Instagram Reels is perfect for sharing these videos.
Show a simple moment at the office, in a store, or on the production floor. Or demonstrate how your team collaborates and gets tasks done. You can even show occasional clips of family time or vacations.
7. Share Exclusive Deals / Sales
Instagram Reels are excellent for posting discounted product offers. Also, you can collaborate with other businesses (e.g., offer a special value) to get exposure to their audience. Think about a business that is complementary to yours. For instance, apparel brands can collaborate with jewelry businesses, or gift shops with booksellers. These collaborations establish trust and awareness between your consumers and other businesses.
8. Tease Upcoming Events
Reels can help generate awareness of upcoming training sessions, workshops, and other events. You can attract new followers by offering short previews of new product launches.
9. Get Into the Trend
There are a handful of ways to get trending (and possibly go viral) with Reels. Add trending hashtags, AR effects, or famous audio clips to earn eyeballs from your audience.
Look through the Reels in your app’s Discover tab to find a trending content format. And when you see a format that you think will appeal to your target audience, go for it. This is one of the fastest ways to grow your business with Reels.
10. Be 100% Authentic With Your Consumers
Much like the behind-the-scenes Reels — genuine content gives your consumers the vibe of being part of a group or community. Be frank and straightforward with your audience by making an Instagram version vs. a reality version video.
Also, try sharing a simple time-lapse of doing things you’d normally not share to give that insider feel.
11. Create a Before and After
Reels are hard to put down because of the instant gratification they offer. Consumers can watch the whole thing happening in 60 seconds max, which keeps them glued to the screen and leaves them wanting more. Use this opportunity by making before and after clips.
Plenty of products use cases are suitable for before and after videos, including:
Arts and crafts
12. Tell Your Story
Does your business have an inspiring or purpose-driven story? Instagram Reels are perfect for telling your "About Us" story.
An introductory Reel humanizes your business and helps consumers relate to your brand.
It can be intimidating to open up on the Internet, so keep it casual as though you’re talking to a friend.
Additionally, remember that you don’t need to limit yourself to just one 60-second clip. It’s completely fine to make the intro over 3 or 4 Reels for users to watch sequentially by navigating to the Reels section of the IG profile.
13. Showcase Your Products in Action
Have you ever bought something on the Internet and been disappointed when it arrived? We’ve all been there. Save your audience such heartbreak by displaying your items in authentic videos.
If you’re selling athletic shoes, film somebody walking around in a public place or style them with a variety of attire.
If you are an illustrator selling prints, show how your work looks after being framed and hung on the wall.
If you’re selling recyclable shopping bags, show the amount of fruits and vegetables they can carry.
Before hitting publish on your Reel, include purchase instructions in the caption. It can be something like: “Click the link in my bio to buy!”
14. Make a List
When in doubt, make a list. Listicles are quick and easy to create. For instance, you can simply share:
Your top 3 favorite combinations
Your top 5 bestsellers
Your favorite recipe for each holiday
Experiment with adding text to explain the visuals, clipping together images and videos, and adding a voiceover. Simple.
That said, relevancy is essential. Unless you’re a solo influencer, ensure the lists you share resonate with the consumers and are relevant to your business.
15. Re-Share Evergreen Content
You don’t need to create non-stop content to engage your consumers on Instagram. Go back to your grid and find your previous popular video content. Do this on other platforms too: Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Download the top-performing content, and share on Reels again.
But ensure your content is evergreen before re-sharing — meaning the content is always relevant and accurate.
Here's a pro tip for sharing TikTok clips on Reels. Although it’s fine to publish the same content on both networks, watch out for the apparent TikTok watermark in the corner. What’s the workaround to this? Simply save your TikTok clip as a live photo. Then go to the camera roll and save that photo as a video. The watermark will remain, but it won’t be as big.
Instagram Reels vs. TikTok
Since these two platforms are competitors, let’s discuss which aspects they share and where they differ. The objective of Reels and TikTok is the same: offer users a creative room to make and publish short video clips with others. Since they include creative tools, both enable users to make their best imaginable videos.
Just a feature inside the whole Instagram platform
A whole platform
Video can be a maximum of 60 seconds
Video can be a maximum of 3 minutes
Reels shared as Stories will vanish after 24 hours
Videos stay permanently on TikTok
All that said, Instagram is the number one platform customers use to follow brands. So it can give you a massive edge over TikTok.
Over 1.15 billion people use Instagram actively each month
90% of all Instagram users follow at least one brand account
83% of Instagram users find new items and services on this visual-first social network
50% of Instagram users get more intrigued about a brand after seeing ads on Instagram
59% of micro influencers feel they receive the best possible engagement on Instagram
What’s more — millennials are on Instagram more than all other social platforms. According to research, 60% of Instagram users are between 18 to 29 years, and 42% of those users visit the platform once every day. In fact, certain studies find that millennials spend more time interacting on social networks compared to real life. Due to such massive attention on the platform, you can’t ignore this customer base.
How to Produce Reels Content
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make an Instagram Reel:
First, select the camera icon located at the top left of your home feed.
Scroll and go to Reels located at the bottom of the screen.
Press and hold the center bottom recording button to record, or press to begin recording and press again to end the video.
Also, you can add a clip from your camera roll by pressing the camera roll in the bottom left corner of the screen.
To watch, delete, or trim the past video you recorded a moment ago, press the left-pointing arrow.
To add text, drawings, or stickers on the reel or save the reel to your phone / computer, press the right-pointing arrow. Use the slider at the bottom to edit when you wish the text to show up in your Reel.
After that, press the right-pointing arrow, and then press Cover to change the cover photo
Next, write out the caption and incorporate hashtags
Then choose where you’ll share the Reel. Press Stories if selecting Stories rather than sharing to Explore
Press Share and after that, press Done
Influencers can be authentic in a way brands can’t. Because of that, an increasing number of brands are flocking to influencers for social media content. If you’re already working with a team of influencers, try Instagram Reels to build even more awareness, engagement, and thus more conversions for your brand. And that’s how you can benefit from Instagram Reels at scale.
Brands That Are Conquering Instagram With Reels
Reels are ideal for short, entertaining content. And since few brands and businesses are using Reels, the early-birds are already milking it to their benefit.
Since IG Reels show up on the Explore Tab, users who don’t even follow a brand can see their Reels. It’s a massive growth hack!
Each time you publish, your content gets exposure to a new group of consumers. When your Reels views rise, your follower count may rise too.
Louis Vuitton’s Reels are top-quality, incredibly creative, and gorgeous — and it’s working for them! Their Reels receive an average of 5 million views each.
This international fashion house uses Reels to get eyeballs to new collections. Their Reel campaigns are similar. Each one has the exact same caption with a different model and LVCruise bag.
Let’s talk about the binge-watchers favorite place for a moment. Reels provides Netflix an alternative -- rather than previews -- to advertise shows.
Reaching your audience through the influencers they follow is a brilliant strategy. Walmart crams its social media feed with influencer collabs that resonate with their consumers.
This British fashion retailer now has amassed massive followers on Instagram and TikTok. For Instagram, they simply had to re-share the best-performing TikTok content on Reels, and within a few days, the Reel got over 4.4 million views.
Get Started on Instagram Reels today
Social media networks are ever-evolving, and continue to grow in popularity. Each new feature of social media platforms is a new opportunity for companies to win the hearts, minds, and business of consumers.
If you’re ready to align your social marketing strategy to where young people go for brand discovery, give Instagram Reels a shot.
With Reels, you get a quick way to create and share tips, inspire, teach, relate, and engage. And you don’t need to be a renowned brand to get the eyeballs.
About the Author
Lynne Clement is the Director of Marketing at ApexDrop, with 10 years of corporate marketing experience at Procter & Gamble. When she’s not connecting with amazing brands and influencers, Lynne enjoys exchanging pranks with her husband, kids, and co-workers, and rooting for Penn State teams. Lynne welcomes connections on LinkedIn and questions at Lynne@apexdrop.com.
ApexDrop is a micro influencer marketing agency. We help product marketers (and agencies) scale micro influencer campaigns. We’re different in that we pay influencers with your product gifts only (not cash) making our campaigns more authentic, and also more affordable. For as little as $150 per post, we provide a managed-service. If you’re considering paying for a platform to identify influencers, let’s talk. We not only identify influencers for you, but we also do the labor-intensive work of vetting, selecting, and communicating with influencers, ensuring they post, reporting, and providing you with a file of license-free content. Learn more at www.apexdrop.com. Or schedule an intro call: www.apexdrop.com/schedule-a-call