Want to create engaging short-form video on Instagram? Have you heard about Instagram Reels?

In this article, you’ll discover what Instagram Reels is, learn how to create a reel on Instagram, and discover how to use Instagram Reels for business.

Instagram Reels: What Marketers Need to Know by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.

What Is Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels rolled out to the majority of users in August 2020. The feature is touted as a response to the popularity of TikTok and a way to create similar content within the Instagram platform.

Unlike IGTV, Instagram realized that for Reels to be effective and used regularly, the feature had to be built into the existing Instagram interface. In this way, Reels is very similar to Instagram Stories—and you even access the Reels camera from the same Stories camera.

Here are some quick highlights about reels:

Chances are you’ve seen reels on Instagram already, even if you didn’t realize it. Reels can be uploaded to Stories or the feed in addition to a Reels gallery on your profile, and they can even appear on the Explore page. They’re pretty much everywhere!

You’ll recognize an Instagram Reels video by the icon in the lower-left corner of the video when scrolling through your feed, or in the upper-right corner when looking at someone’s Instagram profile. If someone you follow uploaded a reel, you’ll see that video in your 九游娱乐下载home feed as you scroll through.

instagram reels icon shown on a feed post an on a profile grid square

You can also see the reels for an account by going to their profile. If they’ve uploaded a Reels video to their feed, you’ll see the cover image in the grid on their profile like any other post. In addition, the Reels tab on their profile will display any reels they’ve uploaded, including those they didn’t share to their feed.

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example of the reels tab on the instagram profile of @perfectionchocolates

You can also discover reels from other accounts on the Explore page on Instagram. The top of the Explore page will show a big Reels video selected for you. As you scroll through the Explore feed, you’ll see more Reels videos interspersed as vertical videos and labeled as Reels.

example of reels on the explore page of instagram

Once you view one video from the Explore feed or your 九游娱乐下载home feed, you can swipe up to scroll through more videos within Reels and find fun new content from other creators.

Businesses Uses for Instagram Reels

Now that you know what Instagram Reels is, you may be wondering how to use this feature for your brand or business.

It’s worth pointing out that not all reels (or TikTok videos for that matter) are just dancing or music. In fact, because business accounts don’t have the music option, you’re most likely going to have to find other ways to use these videos.

If you do tutorials or step-by-step videos for products or tips in your industry, you can definitely create similar-style videos for Reels. You could do some quick behind-the-scenes or meet-the-staff videos to showcase what your company is doing.

example of an instagram reel showing a step-by-step drawing tutorial

If you’re in the fashion industry, there are lots of fun ideas out there for showing off clothing combinations and styles.

Stop motion videos, where one scene ends and jumps into the next, are really popular. If you have a product that requires assembly, you could create a fun video that shows the progression of building the product from start to finish.

It’s worth noting that most people watching reels aren’t going to read a caption, especially a long one. If you have a call to action (CTA) or key point to stress in your post, make sure it’s in the audio and any text overlay on the video so the viewer does see and hear it.

example of an instagram reel with a clear, bold call-to-action on the video

#1: Create an Instagram Reel

Before you jump headfirst into creating reels, I recommend scrolling through the Reels feed on the Explore page and looking at the reels of other accounts or brands you like. Get a feel for what works, what you like, and what inspires you to create.

When you’re ready to get started creating your own reels, here’s what you need to know.

You access the Reels camera from the original Stories camera. You can get there by swiping right from your Instagram 九游娱乐下载home feed (not from your profile). At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see three options: Live, Story, and Reels. Scroll to Reels to open the camera.

reels menu option at the bottom of the instagram stories camera

Once the Reels camera opens, you’ll see navigation tools on the left side of the screen. At the top left is the Settings gear icon, which retains the same settings as for your Instagram Stories. The icons in the middle of the screen are for shooting and editing your videos.

If you want to add creative effects to your clips, you have to select them before you record. You can’t go back and add or edit clips for these features after you’ve recorded a reel.

Instagram business profiles will have access to these three features along the left edge of the screen:

screenshots showing the instagram reels timer option and settings

Instagram personal and creator profiles will have access to the same three features plus the audio (or music) feature on Reels. You can search through suggested audio clips, popular music, or genres to use in your video.

screenshots showing the instagram reels audio options and several sample songs available

Once you’ve selected your effects, it’s time to record an Instagram Reels clip. Press and hold the large shutter button at the bottom of the screen to record.

You can record multiple clips, up to 15 seconds total. As you record, you’ll see a progress bar move across the top of the screen (from left to right) as you approach 15 seconds. After you record your clip, the progress bar will indicate the total length of your video and the number of clips you’ve recorded so far.

screenshot showing progress bar at the top of the instagram reels screen, indicating how many clips have been recorded, and how many more seconds are available for your current clip

Once you’ve filmed your clip, you’ll see two arrows on either side of the shutter button. The left-pointing arrow is a replay of the clip you just filmed.

left arrow menu button allowing for instagram reels clip review and editing

If you tap on the left-pointing arrow, you can trim or delete the clip.

To trim the clip, tap on the scissors icon. You’ll see a timeline for the clip on the next screen. Drag the start and end bars of the clip to mark where you want the video to start/stop. When you’re done, tap on Trim in the upper-right corner.

screenshots of instagram reels trim menu options and the trim screen view

If you want to discard the clip, tap the trash can icon and confirm your choice to discard the clip. Tap the right-pointing arrow to return to the Reels camera.

trash can menu option to discard a clip from your instagram reel

In addition to filming with the Reels camera, you can upload videos from your camera roll. The platform only supports videos so you can’t upload images.

To access your camera roll, tap on the small square at the bottom-left corner of the screen, which shows your most recent camera roll item. Scroll through your camera roll to the video of your choice and select it to import it into Reels.

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If you import a video that’s longer than 15 seconds or the amount of time left in your current Reels video, the imported video is cropped to the allowed time. Select the portion of the video to upload and then tap Upload in the upper-right corner to add it to your Reels creation.

menu option to upload video to your instagram reels creation

If you want to film another clip for your Instagram Reels video, tap and hold the shutter button, repeating the steps above to film your next clip. Remember that if you want to add the same music or effects to the next clip, you have to select them before you begin filming.

To line up your shot with the last one you took, use the Align tool (the icon with two squares) on the left side of the screen. This will create a translucent copy of the last frame of your last clip so you can line up the new clip and create a more seamless transition between clips.

example of how the align tool works when creating your instagram reel

When you’re happy with your complete video clip, tap the right-pointing arrow next to the shutter button to move to the next stage of creating your reel.

Now you can use the icons at the top of the Reels camera to add stickers, text, and doodles to the clip, much like you’re accustomed to in Instagram Stories. Tapping the down-pointing arrow in the top toolbar lets you save the video clip to your camera roll.

instagram reels tools bar showing menu options including the option to save the video clip to your camera roll

#2: Post Reels Content to the Instagram Reels Feed, Your Feed, and Stories

When you’re done creating your reel, tap on the right-pointing arrow at the bottom of the screen next to the frame-by-frame player of your video. You’ll be taken to the Share screen to format your video for sharing to Reels, your feed, and/or Stories. You’ll see two tabs at the top of this screen: Reels and Stories.

screenshot of the instagram posting screen showing the reels tab allowing for reels to be shared in explore and to your feed

Important: If you want to share a reel to your story, you have to share it to your story first from this Share screen. Once you share it to your feed or Reels or save the video as a draft, you’ll no longer have the option to share it to your Stories.

To share an Instagram Reels video to your Stories, tap on the Stories tab on the Share screen and tap the Share button next to Your Story. You can also share it to your Close Friends list or as a direct message to an individual or group.

screenshot of the instagram posting screen showing the stories tab allowing for reels to be shared to your story or close friends list

When you tap the Share button to share the reel to your story, the video is uploaded as-is. You can’t add stickers, tags, or anything else to the post.

Tap on the Reels tab to edit and format the video for upload to your feed and/or your Reels gallery. To edit the cover image for the video, tap on the thumbnail image where it says “Cover.” The selected cover image is the large image in the center of the screen.

Drag your finger across the video player at the bottom of the screen to select the ideal video frame as your cover image. The cover image in the display will update when you choose a new frame. When you’re finished, tap Done.

screenshot showing what it looks like to update the cover image for your instagram reel

Now add a caption to your video. You can use up to 2,200 characters and 30 hashtags, just as you would in a regular feed post on Instagram.

Warning: If you exceed 2,200 characters or the 30-hashtag limit, your video won’t post with the caption. Make sure you don’t exceed those limits. And you may want to copy your caption before you post the video just in case.

Once your post is ready to upload, you can choose where to share it. It will automatically go to the new Reels gallery/tab that appears on your Instagram profile. You can also share it to your feed for your followers to see when they’re scrolling through their feeds. If you don’t want to share the video to your feed, tap on the slider for that option so it will only upload to your Reels tab.

If you’re not ready to share the post publicly but want to save it for later, tap the Save as Draft option at the bottom of the screen. This will save the video file as-is. You’ll then be able to go back and add more clips, update your caption, and so on at a later date.

To access your saved drafts, go to your Instagram profile and tap on the Instagram Reels icon directly above your grid of posts. You’ll see a placeholder for Drafts. Tap on that to access your saved drafts and select the video to edit. Continue editing using the steps mentioned above.

screenshot of the instagram reels tab on a profile showing the placeholder for reels drafts

#3: Delete an Instagram Reel Video or Remove It From Your Grid

Once you’ve uploaded at least one Instagram Reels video to your profile, you can tap on the Reels icon on your profile to access the videos. They’re displayed chronologically and the view counts for each video are shown on the cover image. The view counts are visible to anyone looking at your account or Reels videos.

If you tap on the three-dot button next to the like/comment/share icons at the bottom of your video (in the full video player mode), you can access additional functions for that video. From here, you can:

screenshot showing the menu options under the three dots icon at the bottom of your reels video in full player mode

Limitations of Instagram Reels

As with any new feature, there are currently a significant number of limitations to using Instagram Reels. If you’re familiar with TikTok, you’ll notice a lot of TikTok features aren’t available in Reels. Even if you’re accustomed to using Instagram Stories, you’re going to feel like Reels is missing some key functionality.

In addition to the warnings and suggestions listed above, here are some other limitations to be aware of:


Instagram Reels was much anticipated and a lot of brands are looking for ways to capitalize on this platform. While many people are repurposing their TikTok videos to Reels, if you really want to stand out, focus on creating unique content for Reels that works within the scope of your brand voice and style.

Make sure to test creating content and get used to the limitations of Reels before you’re too committed to creating your brand content as well. Once you have a grasp of the process to film, edit, and upload videos, have fun!

What do you think? Have you created any Reels videos yet? Are you going to give it a try after reading this? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments below.

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