Instagram Reels | The Ultimate Guide

Instagram Reels Graphic | L. Rae Design

Facebook-owned Instagram announced today (See Instagram’s announcement here) that they have officially launched Instagram Reels. Reels is their direct response, and a very familiar concept, to the Chinese app, TikTok.

But it’s not exactly a new Instagram app, rather an app within the Instagram app. It’s described as the perfect way to create, edit, and share short videos with friends and the Instagram community all in one place. So let’s break down the details, the how-to’s and explain how exactly you can use it to benefit your brand and audience.

Quick FAQ’s

What is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is Instagram’s take on Tik Tok. It’s a social platform to create, edit, and share short videos with friends and strangers alike – all in one app.

Why did Instagram launch Reels?

TikTok has quickly become a social media staple and one of the fastest growing apps in the world with over 2 billion downloads and 238 million more users than Instagram. But their audience is evolving. Millennials are joining at a rapid pace and make up more of TikTok’s audience than they ever have before, peaking advertisers interest and creating an urgency among titans like Facebook to throw their hat into the short-video ring.

Reels is Facebook/Instagram’s way to appeal and win over Gen Z and TikTok influencers, increase overall competition, answer the consumer demand for options and their overall chance to join in the short-video fun.

What are some key differences between TikTok and Reels?
  • Application: You have access to basically two apps in one – Instagram and Reels vs. TikTok’s one.
  • Time-limits: Reels has a 15 second time limit while TikTok’s limit is 1 minute.
  • Music: Facebook has not made a statement regarding the type of music or audio coming, and the library available, but they have stated that it’s coming soon.
How long can my Reels videos be in length?

15-second multi-clip videos.

Who can see my Reels videos?

You can share your Reels videos with your followers on your Instagram newsfeed, in your story, or if your profile is public, on the newest community space in Explore.

L. Rae Design Instagram Reels Graphic

How to get started

Open your Instagram Story camera and swipe left to choose the Reels section at the bottom of your screen. As with a regular Instagram Story, pressing and holding the capture button records your video clips. Lifting your finger off the button will stop the recording. Swiping up allows you to choose saved videos from your camera roll. In contrast to the capture button, the progress indicator has now moved from the capture button to the top of your screen.

Editing Tools

Instagram Reels Editing Tools

You’ll see multiple editing tools on the left side of your screen including:

  • Audio: Search for a song from the Instagram music library. You can also use your original audio by simply recording a reel with it. When you share a reel with original audio, your audio will be attributed to you, and if you have a public account, people can create reels with your audio by selecting “Use Audio” from your reel.

  • AR Effects: Select one of the many effects in our effect gallery, created both by Instagram and creators all over the world, to record multiple clips with different effects.

  • Timer and Countdown: Set the timer to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you press record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.

  • Align: Line up objects from your previous clip before recording your next to help create seamless transitions for moments like outfit changes or adding new friends into your reel.

  • Speed: Choose to speed up or slow down part of the video or audio you selected. This can help you stay on a beat or make slow-motion videos.”

Who can you share your Reels with?

Reels sharing is broken down into two parts.

Public Accounts | If you have a public account, you can share your videos to the Reels section of Explore. This will allow your videos to be discovered and shared through the diverse Instagram Explore community. You can also share your videos by sliding/enabling the Also Share to Feed icon over to the right.

*Broadening Your Reach: Any use of video effects, songs or hashtags, can broaden your videos reach by appearing on pages for those dedicated categories, or shared to other pages if someone clicks on any of those specific effects, songs, or hashtags, or chooses to then also share/use those same effects on their Reels videos.

Private Accounts | If you have a private account, Instagram follows your lead and keeps your Reels videos/channel private. You will be able to share your Reels video to your Feed or Story, however it will not appear in Explore. Additionally, no one will be able to share your video with anyone who doesn’t already follow you, or use any of the featured effects, original audio, hashtags in the video itself.

How-to share your Reels

Instagram Reels Sharing Reels

Once you’ve edited your reel and feel it’s ready, you tap through to the share screen. This is where you can save your reel as a draft, change the cover photo, add captions, hashtags and tag accounts.

*This is where you can choose to upload it to your Reels channel, your Insta Story, or your Feed. A combination of any of those options OR all three. If you share to your Story, it will disappear after 24 hours. It will not be uploaded to the Reels Explore page or appear on your profile grid.

Tap Share and your video will be uploaded. After the video has successfully uploaded you’ll see the addition of the Reels icon/tab on your Instagram profile page. This is where all of your Reels will live and where people can find the reels you’ve shared. Your reels will also be shared both on your Feed and profile grid if you chose that option in the share screen.

*You can archive or delete any of your Reel videos at any time.

*As with regular Instagram videos, you can also share your reel in a DM or your Close Friends list.

Reels Explore

Instagram Reels Explore Mockup

The Reels Explore is very similar to the original Instagram Explore section. It’s Instagram’s designated section to expose you to original content. They curate content that they think you’ll find engaging and entertaining. It allows content creators or anyone who wants to become a content creator, the perfect platform.

Where to find the Reels Explore section? Tap the same magnifying icon on your Instagram home row to access Explore section. Furthermore, you’ll find featured Instagram videos coupled with Reels videos. You’ll be able to discover a similar variety of Instagram Reels videos and Instagram Reels channels. You still have the option to scroll vertically as well. If you find content love, you also can like, comment, or share identical to the original Explore section.

Additionally, Reels videos also have the opportunity to be labeled “Featured” and placed in the Explore section. If this happens to any of your Reels videos, you’ll receive a notification.

Instagram Reels and your business

Reach, reach, reach. Joining Instagram Reels gives your business and brand a fun new way to expand your overall reach, increase brand engagement, grow your existing community, and allow your content to reach new audiences. It’s also a smart way to pull new and existing audience members over from Reels to your Instagram profile and vice versa. It’s like a guided engagement map for Instagram users. For example, an Instagram user can view your Reels video then from your video they can head to your page, watch your Story, scroll your grid, visit your website, and direct message you ALL IN ONE PLACE. That’s a tremendous opportunity for a back and forth with your target audience. You don’t have hope they see your content on their Facebook feed, watch your videos on Instagram, and somehow potentially find your website address and contact you. It’s all there and all available to them. It just takes the right content planning, strategy, and execution.

What audiences are looking for


With 15 second time limits, Instagram Reels is designed for fast, easy, and fun digestible content. There are a ton of effects and editing features that allow a video creator or business to show content in a much more authentic way, without the pressure of being “Instagram perfect.”


Are you an expert in your field? Do you have quick tips for a great cocktail or recipe? Can you show off your nightly skincare routine using your favorite products? Walk your clients through your top three arm or leg exercises?

Pin point your target audiences needs and educate them. Add value to their daily life and make them come to you as the expert.

Show off

Show off your products or services

Much like the Pinterest Story feature, you can use your products, services, or expertise to curate more content.

  • Guide your audience through a step-by-step on how to best use your products.
  • Show off your new product collection or give an exclusive never-before-seen sneak peek on new products.
  • If you’re service-based, give viewers a look into a design project, your creative process or a mind-blowing before/after

Spend a little time brainstorming and get creative. Viewers want to get to know YOU and your business. Allow them to get to know what your business is capable of or the value they can expect when they hire you. Provide authenticity and value and I’m positive it will expand your reach, grow your community, and create brand loyalty.

Are you looking for an expert and need to upgrade your own social media, branding, or website? Let’s chat! | Schedule a call with me

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Lauren Klahold

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