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A Quick Guide To Instagram Reels

Here’s a guide to Instagram Reels that will help you make sense of this new tool on Instagram. It might seem overwhelming to be trying to learn about yet another feature on Instagram, but once you get the hang of it it’s easy and a lot of fun.

What are Instagram Reels?

Reels are basically a rip off of Tik Tok.  Instagram knows that Tik Tok is huge competition for them, so they’ve invented a version of Tik Tok and added it to Instagram. 

Reels are 15 or 30 second videos that you can put on your grid that also exist in a separate Reels channel as well.  You can splice together several shorter videos within that video, or you can just create a stand alone 15 or 30 second video. You can add text, music and stickers.

Where do I view Reels on Instagram?

It might seem a little tricky to find them until you know where to look. Here are the four places to view Reels:

  1. At the top of the Explore page – a selection of Reels currently dominate the top of the Explore page as you’ll see in the picture below
  2. Reels are featured on the top left corner of all hashtag pages
  3. Reels can be found via a Reels icon on people’s account pages
  4. Reels appear in your feed when you are scrolling through Instagram

Have a look at the pictures below for a clearer idea of where you need to look for Reels.

Reels on the Explore page

Instagram Reels on the explore page.
Instagram Reels are at the top of the explore page

Reels on hashtag pages

Instagram Reels on hashtag pages.


Instagram Reels are featured at the top left of hashtag pages

Reels on account pages

Instagram Reels on account page.


Look for the Reels icon on account pages

Reels in the Instagram feed

Instagram Reels on the feed.


You can view people’s Reels when you scroll through your feed

Why Should I bother with them?

  • Firstly the algorithm is incredible at the moment.  If you create a Reel, even if it’s rubbish, Instagram will show it to lots of people outside your audience.  I’ve created 5 Reels so far, and each one has had over a thousand views.  An average IGTV for me probably gets 300 views, so to jump to over 1000 views on a Reel is a big leap. Instagram is clearly pushing Reels at the moment, so take advantage of the algorithm!
  • Secondly, Reels are fast paced and fun and people are being very creative with them. So it feels like a party worth joining.  Get involved with the good vibes!
  • Thirdly, Reels are quite similar to Stories in feel and length – but you can’t share Stories to your grid.  However Reels you get to share on the grid.  I’m enjoying sharing that Stories sillines and energy on my grid.
  • Finally, Reels are generally really fast to make, which is always a winner for me.

How do they work?

First of all open your Stories tool in Instagram, and bottom right you will get the option to create a Reel.

Create Instagram Reel by opening Stories feature.

Once you’ve selected Reels, you can record your videos with the white button at the bottom of the screen with the Reels icon on (see image below).

There are a number of features you can use at this stage to add effects to your Reel including audio, video speed, filters and a timer. The timer is particularly useful because if you want to splice together several videos within your 15 second video, the timer allows you to segment it evenly.

The effects available when you create an Instagram Reel.

Once you’ve recorded your first video, you have a further function available called alignment. This allows you to do a change of outfit video for example. So you could record yourself in your dressing gown, then when you move onto the next section of the video, press the alignment button (see below) and then when you’ve changed into your new ‘outfit’ align your body and face with the previous video using this tool.

The alignment feature on Instagram Reels.

Once you’ve created several mini videos, press the white arrow and you can add text.

How videos appear on Instagram Reels.

Add your text and align it to the correct bit of video by using the trimming feature at the bottom. You can add different bits of text to each section of the video.

How to add text to Instagram Reels.

Finally add a caption, and if you want add a cover from you camera roll. Pick the image carefully as when the cover appears on the grid it will be cropped as a square image. You also have the option at this stage to share it to your feed – which I would recommend that you do as it will get far more views if it appears on your grid.

How to add a cover to Instagram Reels.

What should I do Reels about?

If you run a business, I think the simplest thing you can do is create a ‘tips’ reel like I did here.

Or if you want to keep things really lazy – just do a straight 15 second video that relates to your business – Jamie Oliver has done one here about cucumbers!

Or you could do a speeded up ‘How To’ Reel like this (you can speed up your videos within the app)

And there’s a lot of fab recipe Reels out there if you fancy making one yourself. @maxlamanna has done loads of clever ones. Check this carrot top pesto Reel out:

Am I ready to post my first reel?

I’d really encourage you to give one a whirl. You could just do it as a draft and you never need to post it. It’s taken me a while to get the hang of it, but after lots of messing about with it, I’m feeling a lot more confident now! It’s like anything in life – if you give it a go and do a few rough drafts, you just get better and better. And it is good fun!

Do send me a dm on my Instagram account and let me know how you get on. You can tag me in your Reels as well if you’d like me to have a look!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this you might like to read My Instagram Audit For Small Businesses.


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