Crafting Instagram Reels for Maximum Engagement

Embracing Innovation: Instagram Reels
Crafting Instagram Reels | Amwork

Instagram, renowned for its adaptability and keen eye for emerging trends, made headlines when it introduced Instagram Stories, mirroring Snapchat's concept. Now, they've once again demonstrated their ability to evolve by capitalizing on the rising popularity of TikTok, giving birth to Instagram Reels.

Innovation knows no boundaries, and whether viewed as “borrowing” or pioneering, Instagram Reels has firmly established itself as a dynamic engagement tool within the platform.

Whether you're an adept Reels creator or someone who has recently asked, “What's an Instagram Reels,” this comprehensive article has you covered. We will guide you through everything you need to know to leverage Instagram Reels effectively, enhancing your account's engagement and growing your following.

Let's commence with the basics: What exactly is an Instagram Reels?

Exploring Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels consist of short video clips, typically ranging from 15 to 90 seconds in length, although extended videos of up to 15 minutes are also possible. These clips can be shared as Stories, regular posts, or featured on a dedicated Reels tab within your profile.

To access Instagram Reels, simply click on the play-like button located at the center of your navigation bar. This button opens up a dedicated Reels feed where you can discover a wide array of content. Additionally, Reels can also appear on your home tab and the Explore page.

Businesses and individual users alike leverage Instagram Reels for various purposes, such as showcasing products, making announcements, expressing creativity, and simply having fun. As you scroll through your Reels feed, you'll encounter a diverse range of content, from entertaining dances to heartwarming baby announcements, and everything in between.

Much like other content on Instagram, the visibility of Reels is determined by an algorithm that users often seek to decipher. While Instagram hasn't explicitly disclosed the criteria for featuring certain Reels over others, we can make educated assumptions (we'll delve into that shortly).

The Rise of Instagram Reels: Why Now?

TikTok's continued surge in popularity is undeniable, maintaining its position as the most downloaded social app, with a staggering 672 million yearly downloads. However, TikTok predominantly caters to a younger demographic, at least for the time being, while Instagram has a broader user age range.

Recognizing the opportunity, Instagram entered the scene, aiming to provide its users with a comprehensive social network capable of satisfying their diverse content consumption preferences.

Instagram's commitment to Reels is so profound that the platform has transitioned all its video content to Reels, effectively retiring IGTV. Consequently, every video you upload to your Instagram account instantly becomes a Reel, reflecting the platform's dedication to this dynamic format.

Creating Your Own Instagram Reels

Ready to dive into creating your very own Instagram Reel? You're in luck—it's a straightforward process.

Instagram offers three main entry points for creating Reels: the “Your Story,” “New Post,” and Reels tabs. You can follow the same process from any of these locations, but to keep it simple, let's start from the Reels tab.

Step 1: Upload a Video

If you have a pre-recorded video that's perfect for Reels, begin by clicking the square icon with a plus button located at the bottom of your home screen. This button allows you to switch between Post, Story, Reel, or Live. For our Reel, click on the Reel tab, which will lead you to Instagram's Reels editor interface.

Instagram Reels also accommodate the upload of multiple videos or photos if your final video requires various clips. If you wish to include a backdrop in your video, ensure you activate the “Green screen” toggle icon (assuming your video was filmed against a green screen).

Pro tip: Instagram's “Remix” feature is reminiscent of TikTok's functionality. Navigate to the Explore Reels tab and click on the three dots next to a video to import the content into your Reels editing view. Here, you can comment and “re-edit” native content. Note that this feature is available only for Reels created on the platform that allow the “Remix” option.

Step 2: Choose Your Music (or Audio)

If you plan to shoot your video within the Instagram app, it's best to start with your choice of music. Music plays a pivotal role in shaping short-form video trends, so selecting the perfect audio snippet is essential for garnering views. Look for a song that aligns with the theme of your video or your brand's identity.

When you click on the “music” option, Instagram will suggest popular and trending songs automatically. You can also save songs that have worked well in previous Reels or import your own “original audio.”

Pro tip: To include a voiceover in your Reels, tap the arrow editing icon after adding your music. By tapping the microphone icon at the top of the screen, you can access a voice recording window to integrate into your Reels.

Now that you've covered the initial steps, you're well on your way to crafting engaging Instagram Reels that resonate with your audience.

Step 3: Choose an Effect

The star icon unlocks a world of creative possibilities, offering a wide array of effects ranging from subtle filters to playful animations. This is where your creativity takes center stage as you explore and experiment with effects that will make your Reels truly distinctive. Similar to music, you can save your favorite effects and explore trending ones available on the platform. Keep in mind that Instagram consistently introduces new effects to keep your options fresh and exciting.

Pro tip: If you come across an impressive effect (or audio) in a Reel, you can easily find it by clicking on the video, and it will be prominently listed at the top of the video.

Step 4: Choose Speed, Layout, and Time

Before you begin recording, take the time to customize your Reel further with these essential settings:

  • Speed: Tailor the speed of your Reels, ranging from .3x to 4x. This feature is perfect for creating timelapse Reels or adjusting the pacing to your liking.

  • Layout: Experiment with different layouts to present your video content creatively. You can seamlessly stitch together multiple videos to fit within your chosen time frame. For instance, consider our Reel below, where we employ a straightforward layout (along with captions) to showcase two subjects in a podcast interview.

  • Timer: Select the duration of your Reels (15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 60 seconds). This is also where you can activate a timer for hands-free recording.

Step 5: Record and Share

Tap the Reels icon button to initiate the recording process. Tap it once more to conclude the recording.

And that's it—your Reels is ready.

Upon completion, you'll have the opportunity to preview your video and make additional edits. You can fine-tune the music, add effects, overlay text, freehand draw, and more.

Share your finished Reels to Stories, post it to your feed, or do both.

Pro Tip: Utilize Gesture Control to commence and halt your recording with a simple wave or hand gesture. You can also employ the Dual feature to record using both the front and outward-facing cameras, akin to the functionality found in the app.

Dos and Don'ts of Instagram Reels

Creating a Reels is relatively straightforward, but crafting one that gains traction and goes viral can be a challenge. To set you on the path to Reel success, here are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind:


  1. Use Vertical Video: Vertical video is essential for a seamless Reels experience.

  2. Grab Attention Quickly: Create content with a captivating hook within the first two seconds to engage viewers from start to finish, as skipped Reels can negatively impact your ranking.

  3. Get Creative: Experiment with creative tools such as filters, effects, text, and music to make your Reels visually appealing and entertaining.

  4. Include Closed Captions: Many viewers watch without sound, so adding closed captions can enhance accessibility and engagement.

  5. Be Original: Find inspiration from others but strive to create unique and original content that sets you apart.


  1. Avoid Watermarks: Refrain from publishing Reels with watermarks from other platforms like TikTok.

  2. Steer Clear of Blurriness: Upload clear and high-resolution videos for a polished look.

  3. Limit Text Overload: Avoid overwhelming your video with excessive text, ensuring that the visuals remain the focus.

  4. Adhere to Community Guidelines: Ensure that your content aligns with Instagram's Community Guidelines to maintain a positive and compliant presence.

  5. Avoid Repetition: Keep your Reels fresh, fun, and creative. Avoid falling into a repetitive pattern, as Reels are meant to be dynamic and engaging.

Using Instagram Reels to Boost Engagement

Instagram Reels are currently in the spotlight, prominently featured as soon as users open the app. Leveraging Reels effectively can lead to increased engagement, whether you aim to raise awareness, drive sales, or grow your following.

While the intricacies of Instagram's algorithms remain a bit of a mystery, it's evident that Reels are a high-priority item for the platform. By consistently sharing high-quality and engaging Reels, you may find that Instagram also gives more visibility to your Stories, Feed posts, and even your Instagram Shop.

Although not a confirmed fact, it's a reasonable assumption given Instagram's current emphasis on Reels.

Moreover, Reels have an inherent viral quality due to their brevity. Unlike articles or longer videos, Reels are consumed in seconds, making it easier for users to watch, like, and share.

Curious about how to use Reels to boost Instagram engagement? Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Build Your Instagram Following: Engaged followers lead to more engagement, which, in turn, expands your reach. Appearing on the Explore tab can expose your brand to a new audience, potentially leading to brand-new interactions.

  • Incorporate Keywords and Hashtags: Include relevant keywords and hashtags in your Instagram Reels to increase discoverability through the platform's search function.

  • Raise Awareness with Subtle Branding: While viewers primarily seek entertainment, subtle branding elements like logos, brand colors, captions, text blocks, and stickers can enhance brand awareness without being overly intrusive. This leaves a lasting impression on viewers.

By applying these strategies and staying creative, you can use Instagram Reels to foster engagement, grow your audience, and make a lasting impact on the platform.

Drive Sales with Product Features

Experiment with showcasing or announcing products in your Reels to generate excitement and potentially boost sales. Keep in mind that Instagram Reels primarily serve a consumer-focused function on a social networking platform, rather than being an e-commerce-centric tool.

While it's not the core purpose of Reels, it's worth testing the waters to gauge your audience's response. If you notice increased engagement and see a rise in sales stemming from Instagram, it could be a strategy worth exploring further or integrating into your regular content. On the other hand, if engagement declines, consider refining your approach before revisiting this tactic.

Add a Single Call to Action (CTA) to Your Reels

When crafting Reels, there are moments when you simply want to entertain or inform your audience without specific action required. However, there are also instances when you want your viewers to take action based on your content.

Leverage stickers, GIFs, and text to guide your audience's actions. Encourage them to click the link in your profile, follow your account, or explore additional content.

Focus on one clear CTA at a time to avoid overwhelming your viewers. Provide them with valuable content and then ask them to like, comment, share, visit a link, or engage in a specific way. Simplicity and clarity in your CTA can be highly effective.

Instagram Reels Features in 2023

In April 2023, Instagram introduced several notable updates to Reels to compete more effectively with TikTok's creator-centric approach. These updates include:

Reels Trends: Instagram now offers a central hub for Reels trends, allowing you to explore the types of content and videos currently trending on the platform. By following these trends, you can adapt your content to align with popular music, audio, or formats.

Editing Ease: Reels' updated editing interface simplifies the process of cutting and combining multiple clips and music tracks. The new editing features resemble those found in traditional editing software, saving you time and potentially reducing the need for third-party editing apps.

Instagram Gifts: Similar to YouTube, Instagram has introduced a feature where your audience can leave tips or gifts through the platform. Users purchase “stars” to leave these gifts, and Instagram provides you with a share of the payout. While Instagram Gifts are a new addition to the platform, it's important to approach this feature with caution and avoid excessive solicitation of gifts from your audience.

These 2023 updates to Instagram Reels offer enhanced functionality and opportunities for creators and businesses to engage with their audience in innovative ways.

Instagram Reels FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the use of Reels for your business or personal brand:

Should I make Reels and TikTok videos separately for my brand?

Yes and no. It's not advisable to simply upload a video edited on TikTok to Reels or vice versa. The platforms may penalize you for this. It's recommended to plan your video, shoot it on a phone in advance, and then edit it within the native platform.

What type of music can I use on Reels?

You can use only licensed audio that has been approved by Reels and properly attributed to the artist(s). The same rules apply to audio uploaded by creators.

Can I use other people's Reels?

Yes, you can remix other creators' videos and audio in your own Reels if the creator has a public account. Conversely, you can also allow others to use your Reels. When you download a video, all licensed music and audio will be removed from the Reel.

Should I allow other people to remix my brand's Reels?

While the saying “any press is good press” applies here, remember that when you upload a Reel for your business or personal brand, it becomes fair game for Instagram creators to utilize.

Is Reels better than TikTok?

The verdict is still out. TikTok is the pioneer of short-form video, but Instagram quickly caught up with Reels. Now, other platforms like YouTube and LinkedIn are incorporating “shorts” into their offerings. As with all social platforms, it's essential to invest your efforts where your target audience is most active. Short-form video has proven to be an effective way to rapidly grow an audience, and the emerging buyer demographic (age 16 — 35) is spending increasingly more time on Reels and TikTok.

How do I make a Reel that gets views?

  • Think like an individual, not a brand: Consider what makes you laugh or engage with Reels as an individual, and incorporate those elements into your content.
  • Test and Learn: Reels are consumed quickly, so don't hesitate to experiment with different approaches and content ideas.
  • Use Existing Content: Pull video clips from YouTube interviews, customer testimonials, or other sources, and remix, edit, and enhance them with fresh effects.
  • Less is More: Sometimes, simplicity is key. Even with access to a full video studio, creating a Reel with minimal production can still be highly effective in engaging your audience.
  • Creating engaging Reels that resonate with your audience and build your brand while entertaining viewers can be challenging. Here are some suggestions:

By keeping these strategies in mind, you can create Reels that capture attention and drive engagement on the platform.

Becoming an Instagram Maestro

Indeed, Instagram holds immense potential as a business tool, but mastering it can be a complex journey, with numerous intricacies and priorities to navigate.


Samantha Davis

Samantha Davis


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