October 5, 2022

When it comes to Instagram marketing for brands of all shapes and sizes, Instagram Reels are where it’s at right now. 

Reels are short, vertical video posts that are similar to TikTok videos, Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts. They’re meant to be pithy and attention-grabbing. 

Instagram’s Reels tend to vary in style and content, from humorous lip sync trends to beautiful visual art. There’s a little something for everyone out there, which means there’s a Reels strategy to fit every brand, too. 

Wondering what types of Instagram Reels you can use to attract new followers? Read on. 

Why You Need to Use Instagram Reels 

Reels on Instagram launched in 2019, and are now getting more reach on than any other type of post on the platform. Overall, they have a strong engagement rate of 1.50%

That’s not all, though. Reels actually get 22% higher engagement than other video posts on Instagram. So if you’re planning to invest more time in posting video content to the platform, Reels is definitely where you want to be.  

If you want to check out some Reels to get an idea of the types of content out there, you can find them on Instagram’s Explore page. Tap the magnifying glass in your Instagram app to take a look around.

Reels will appear on the Explore page as vertical videos. They’ll stand out from the other square videos and photo posts, so they’re easy to spot.  

The Basics of Instagram Reels: Getting Started 

It’s easy to get started with creating content on Instagram Reels. Ready to learn how? 

Setting up your Reels is quick and simple. You can get to the tools right from your Instagram profile. First, you’ll need to navigate to your profile, then tap the plus sign in the top right-hand corner of the screen. 

Next, Instagram will show you a Create menu. Tap Reel.

After that, Instagram Reels will open your smartphone’s camera. You’ll now see a set of tools you can use to record and edit your Reel.

Now, you’re ready to create! If you want a more detailed tutorial that shows you how to use more of Instagram’s creation tools, we’ve created one for you here

When you create your Reels, keep in mind that they’re primarily designed to be short and snappy. You don’t want to squeeze too much content into one Reel–that would be overwhelming for both you and your viewers.

Although Reels started out with a 15-second cap, they can now run for up to 90 seconds. This isn’t nearly as long as TikTok’s new 10-minute limit, but it definitely gives creators more time to work with than before.

9 Types of Instagram Reels to Attract New Followers 

If you’re ready to create some Instagram Reels of your own, there are many types of videos you can experiment with. Let’s take a look at a few.  

1. Lip Syncing 

Lip syncing videos are a signature feature of the content you’ll often find on Reels. You’ll often see them paired with trending sounds, and they can be used for all kinds of accounts.

Often, lip-syncing videos are paired with dancing, but that’s not always the case. If your brand’s social media marketing strategy doesn’t call for dancing or singing (or other performative content), you could create lip sync videos using inspiring quotes or other trending sounds. 

2. Lists 

Lists have been popular in online content for a long time, so it’s only natural that they’d show up in Reels, too. Your brand could potentially create a large amount of content from short, punchy lists alone. 

Sit down for a brainstorming session and see what your team can come up with. Lists can cover all sorts of topics, so you’re really not limited when it comes to ideas. 

3. Challenges 

Challenges are a great way to boost engagement for your Instagram Reels. Your brand can launch its own challenge with a branded hashtag (like #smcmarketingchallenge, for instance), or participate in an existing one. 

For example, a fitness brand or influencer might participate in a fitness challenge on Reels. Or, a cookware brand could create a cooking challenge, and then have followers tag its account with their culinary creations. 

Find challenges in your niche by conducting hashtag searches on Instagram and paying attention to trends. If you create a challenge of your own, have your followers tag you and use your hashtag for greater reach. 

4. Before & After Shots 

Before & after shots are Instagram Reels gold. They’re a great way to show your product in action so your followers can see exactly what they’ll get when they shop with you. 

You can package your before & after Reels in many different ways. Use a set of images, or create a video that shows how the product works in real time. Incorporate customer testimonials if it makes sense for your brand, and if you have the content (and permission!) to do so. 

5. How-To’s & Tutorials 

Video how-to’s and tutorials are a great addition to many content marketing plans. While long-form video tutorials are great, short Reels with actionable how-to tips can inspire your audience to take the next step. 

Take a look at how Etsy incorporates how-to tutorials into its Reels content. While the brand often showcases its handmade goods for sale, it also features how-to Reels. This kintsugi repair kit is a fantastic example. 

6. Educational Content 

Sharing educational content on Reels puts valuable information in front of your audience in a quick, easy-to-digest format. It’s an excellent way to help users feel like they’ve learned something important in a short amount of time. 

Educational content works great for brands focused on learning, history, news, and much more. It’s also useful for brands that want to raise awareness around specific causes or topics, but need to educate their followers further. 

7. Story Times / Direct Narratives 

Telling a story or setting up dedicated Reels for “story time” helps your audience feel more directly connected to your brand. If you have a brand representative who can help make the experience more personal, even better. 

Elyse Myers’ casual, candid style is a great example of how well a strong story time Reel works. This style of Reel can also work well as behind-the-scenes footage for your brand. With the right ingredients, a well-told story can potentially build greater brand recognition and attract a wider audience. 

8. Jump Cuts 

Jump cuts are a style of video transition that work great for Reels. This kind of video edit simulates a quick transformation from one state to another. 

One example of a jump cut might be a how-to video where the time between steps has been cut down. This saves the viewer time but still gets the point across.

More extreme jump-cut transition Reels feature the subject “jumping” from one outfit or location to another. In the case of athlete Joel Mattli, he “dives” into his hotel bed and into the ocean. 

9. Skits 

Skits are a great way to add a little humour to your brand’s social media marketing strategy. These can feature lip-syncing, costumes, music, dialogue, dance, and more. As long as your skit is on brand, you can have fun with it. 

Sparknotes posts fantastic literary skits on its Reels feed. The parody style keeps things interesting while highlighting the classic literature featured in its catalogue. 

7 Examples of Brands Crushing Their Instagram Reels

Exploring other brands’ Instagram Reels can give you plenty of ideas to bounce off of. Let’s take a look at some top brands that are crushing their Instagram Reels game. 

1. Shake Shack

Thirsty for a milkshake? You will be once you watch Shake Shack’s Instagram Reels. 

The brand features videos that show mouth-watering shake prep, happy customers, and even happy pets. They regularly feature user-generated content (UGC), too, which helps to boost their reach. 

UGC is a great way to build more content for your Reels. Have your followers tag you whenever they post Reels featuring your brand. (But be sure to ask for permission before you post!)

2. Sephora

Sephora has been crushing social media for a while now, and its Reels are no different. The makeup and self-care company features how-to tutorials, before & after videos, interviews, and a variety of other empowering content. 

One area where Sephora really shines is in featuring a diverse array of people in its Reels. This creates an opportunity for viewers from a wide variety of backgrounds to feel connected with the brand. 

If you’re marketing a product-based brand–especially products with aesthetic or self-care appeal–then emulating Sephora’s approach could work well for you. 

3. Amazon Prime Video Sport

Everyone loves a front-row seat to their favourite celebrities and sports stars. Reels from Amazon Prime Video Sport feature up-close takes of athletes, fans, and pivotal moments in recent sports history. Similarly to Amazon Prime Video’s Instagram feed, their sports Reels feel approachable and fun. 

While some of Prime Video Sport’s Reels are snippets of interviews and games viewers can find on the streaming platform, others are amusing. Take a look at this close-up of a cute pup attending the US Open. 

4. Madewell

Clothing brand Madewell shows off its casual, comfortable apparel with equally relaxed Reels. Madewell’s Reels are a combination of video and images. Some of their videos feature models, while others showcase features like the custom fabrics shoppers can request. 

For their Instagram Reels, Madewell largely follows a natural light aesthetic, with a lot of white and neutral colours. This helps their denim and light, earth-toned apparel to really stand out. 

5. Starface

Starface creates cute, sticker-like acne patches for teens and young adults. Their Instagram feed, including Reels, are brightly-coloured and energetic. That helps the brand feel attractive to younger customers, like preteens, who could use a little help making acne care more fun.

Reels from Starface are a great example of branded video content that appeals to the young at heart. If your target audience consists of kids or adults who are in touch with their inner child, then approaching Reels from this angle could work well for you. 

6. Netflix

Netflix has an active presence on Instagram, including Reels. It uses Reels to repurpose video content (such as trailers), getting the word about its shows and films out to a wider audience. 

The brand also showcases behind-the-scenes footage and interviews on its Reels and feed posts. These teasers entice viewers to log on and watch in their Netflix apps–or to sign up for an account if they don’t already have one. 

If you’re building a social media strategy for a media-driven brand, such as a film production company, you may want to take cues from accounts like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. 

7. Converse

Converse is killing it when it comes to Instagram Reels. It features diverse people, artistic video, skits, and footage with high production value. This brand clearly knows and embraces the culture and lifestyle it has built around itself over the years. 

If your brand has a solid budget for video production, take a look at how Converse is creating Reels. Large brands with plenty of funding for media would benefit from investing the extra time and money in producing their Instagram Reels content.

Final Thoughts

Instagram Reels have become a crucial part of marketing on Instagram over the last few years–arguably the most important. A well-produced Reel gets viewers’ attention, effectively directing it toward your brand and increasing awareness and engagement. Ultimately, your Instagram Reels could help you grow your following and your revenue overall. 

Investing time in creating Reels with stellar entertainment value, actionable information, and audience engagement could help you build a more successful Instagram presence. Most importantly, remember to keep your content true to your brand–and have fun while you create. 

Need help boosting your Instagram skills and levelling up your social media marketing strategy? Take a look at our Instagram Marketing Short Course. It’s a powerful way to put more oomph into your Instagram marketing, including your Reels strategy. See what it’s all about and enrol here

About the author 

Ana Gotter

Ana is a strategic content marketer specialising in business, finance, and marketing writing, though she's worked across a range of industries. She works from her home in Orlando with her three dogs.

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