The Beginners Guide to Instagram Reels: Everything You Need to Know as a Small Business Owner

Statistics show the popularity of video for consumers will not be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, 99% of marketers in a recent survey said that video will be (or will continue to be) an important part of their marketing strategy in the upcoming year!

Capitalizing on the video craze, TikTok exploded onto the scene in 2016 and has since grown to 800 million users. This, of course, caught the eye of marketers and small business owners everywhere. It became evident that users enjoyed the creative freedom provided by TikTok to create unique, short, edited, and easily shareable videos. 

Instagram took notice too, and recently released their answer to TikTok: Instagram Reels.

What is ‘Instagram Reels’

Instagram has long been a photo-focused platform. When it launched in 2010, it was set apart by being the first platform to offer in-app photo editing. Shortly after Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012, they expanded their video features by offering ‘Instagram Stories’. Stories enabled users to share multiple photos and videos in a slideshow format. The photos and videos would then disappear within 24 hours (similar to Snapchat).

Reels is a brand new functionality on Instagram that allows users to record 15-second multi-clip videos. They can then edit the videos with audio, effects, filters, and more and share them via their profile or through Instagram’s Explore Page (with a public account). 

Because Instagram users were already utilizing the platform's editing features for their photos and videos, Reels seems like a natural next step! 
It’s also opening some new doors for small businesses…

What can Instagram Reels do for small business owners?

The biggest asset for small business owners in Instagram Reels is the Explore Page. This page (which is visited by 50% of Instagram users each month) allows users to find other accounts they might be interested in following. 

Instagram uses an algorithm that shows results to users on the Explore Page based on the accounts that the user currently follows, and the posts they like. 

This means anyone, with any size following on their account, could potentially show up on an Explore Page and subsequently reach new customers. Since these new customers have already shown interest in accounts similar to yours, they offer reach to somewhat of a targeted demographic — for free! 

Instagram is rumored to be giving extra attention to accounts that begin using Reels during these early days. So, how can you start using Reels right away to your small business’ benefit?

Let’s look at some ways:

Getting started with Instagram Reels 

Getting into a groove with Instagram Reels might require a bit of effort and some trial and error. But it can also be a lot of fun! This feature really allows users to get in touch with their creativity and produce some unique content. 

In order to use Reels:

  • Select Reels at the bottom of your Instagram camera in your account
  • Record your 15-second clip
  • Use the editing tools to edit your filter, audio, AR effects, speed, transition, and more. 

We’d suggest doing a couple of practice videos and playing with the editing tools before committing to your first post. Be sure you’ve explored all the functionalities so you can utilize Reels to the fullest. 

Browse what other companies are doing with Reels and get a feel for what you like. Then, it’s time to start planning! 

Planning your Instagram Reels content 

Some small businesses have an easier time planning and producing video content than others. For example, if you run a small clothing boutique, it’s obvious that you can use video to showcase your product in different ways. On the contrary, if you run a consulting firm, the brainstorming for how to use Reels might take a bit more effort. 

However, there are plenty of opportunities to use video (for any business or industry) if you’re willing to get creative! 

If you already have a marketing or social media calendar, use it to plot out ideas for Reels and capture any good opportunities that come to mind. To get the creative juices flowing, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my goal of using Instagram Reels?
    • Am I trying to reach new clients/customers?
    • Am I trying to sell a product?
    • Am I trying to build or showcase my company’s brand or culture?

Once you have your goal in mind, think about what potential customers might want to see from your business. For example:

  • If your goal is to reach new clients and customers, you could:
    • Record and edit a Q&A video about your product/service
    • Use video to showcase how the product is made 
    • Ask your customers to record short testimonials 
    • Record a video comparing your product or service to your competitors

  • If your goal is to sell a product:
    • Record some videos of customers using the product 
    • Showcase the strength or durability of a product using fun stunts
    • Record different or unique ways of using your product
    • Record a video about any promotions you have running
  • If your goal is to showcase your company culture or brand:
    • Ask your employees to record short video testimonials about your workplace
    • Showcase your office space and the perks of working there
    • Record any office events or happy hours 
    • Record a video that talks about your company values 

Really, the sky's the limit on how you can let your creativity shine with Reels. Our biggest advice is just to have fun with the feature! Reels was meant to be an entertaining and engaging add for Instagram, so keep those two guidelines in mind and you can’t go wrong.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of learning yet another new social media feature, we can help! 

Our social media management package is perfect for small business owners who want to take advantage of everything Instagram has to offer, but don’t have the bandwidth to do it solo. You can learn more here

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