Instagram Reels: the ultimate guide to captivating videos

11 min

Since their debut in 2020, Instagram Reels have taken the platform by storm, experiencing a remarkable 57.4% surge in usage by 2023. They now outperform other types of Instagram content with an average reach rate of 33.8%, compared to 29.9% for image posts.

Explore what makes Reels so popular, master the art of creating them, understand their technical details, and learn effective strategies to make them shine on your profile.

best time to post reels on instagram
This guide is for anyone looking to learn the latest hacks in Reel-making.

What are Instagram Reels? 

Trending Reels on Instagram are short, captivating videos that use popular music, sounds, and themes to grab attention. They showcase the latest trends, challenges, or viral moments, making them highly shareable and relatable. By jumping on these trends, Reels can significantly boost your visibility and engagement on the platform.

Here’s why they’re powerful:

  • Instagram’s algorithm loves trending content. Joining in on popular topics increases the chances of your Reels appearing on the Explore page, potentially going viral.
  • Trending Reels attract more likes, comments, and shares because they’re timely and relevant to what people are interested in right now.
  • When your Reels resonate with current interests, they’re more likely to be shared by followers, spreading your reach even further.
  • They also give you a chance to creatively interpret popular content, captivating your current followers and attracting new ones who appreciate your unique take.

Moreover, video content is widely favoured among social media users. According to Sprout Social, 54% of marketers find video best suited for social media posting, while Wyzowl reports that 87% of marketers confirm that posts with videos help increase sales. That’s why it is inevitable to master Reels trending.

Read more about it here.

what is a reel on instagram
Marketers agree that videos are perfect for social media posts, and they’ve been proven to boost sales.

Setting the stage for success

Know your audience

The first step is to understand your audience. It is crucial for mastering Instagram Reels and enhancing your social media strategies because:

  • Maximising reach: tailoring content to match your audience’s interests increases the likelihood of them discovering and engaging with it.
  • Improving engagement: creating content that resonates with your audience prompts active participation and interaction.

The second step is analysing user activity with Instagram Insights:

  • Demographics: knowing the age, gender, and geographic location of your followers helps in crafting targeted content.
  • Audience activity: identifying peak activity times enables you to schedule posts for optimal visibility.
  • Time zone considerations: for international audiences, adjusting posting times according to different time zones ensures broad engagement.
  • Scheduling tools: utilising automation tools to schedule posts at ideal times across various locations maintains consistent engagement.

When this analysis is made, creativity is in order. You need to know the best techniques to make engaging content.

Reel content brainstorming

Creating Reels that stand out requires a blend of creativity, analytics, and engagement tactics. Here are 10 steps to elevate your Reels:

  1. Capture attention with visuals: ensure high-quality visuals with good lighting, composition, and dynamic movements.
  2. Enhance with editing: use Instagram’s tools or third-party apps for effects, transitions, and text overlays to enhance engagement.
  3. Craft engaging captions: write captivating captions that complement your visuals using humour, storytelling, or intriguing questions.
  4. Effective hashtag use: research and use relevant hashtags to expand your reach and tap into trending topics in your niche.
  5. Call to Action: encourage interaction by including clear CTAs like «Follow for more tips» or «Tag a friend who needs this».
  6. Engagement strategies: incorporate polls, questions, and interactive elements to boost engagement and encourage shares.
  7. Utilise Insights: regularly analyse metrics such as reach, engagement, and demographics to refine your strategy.
  8. Join challenges: participate in trending challenges to increase visibility, adding your unique twist to stand out.
  9. Promote your Reels: share across platforms and collaborate with influencers to broaden your audience.
  10. Integration for growth: by implementing these strategies, you can create compelling Reels that engage your audience and foster significant account growth.

Use these strategies to create compelling, trending Instagram Reels that engage your audience, but keep in mind also planning tips to significantly boost your reach and account growth.

For additional information click here.

how long can reels be on instagram
You need to know the best techniques to make engaging content.

Planning your Reels

Content planning and creating a content calendar for Reels publishing are also important parts of success. Here are the best practices for posting times:

  • Choosing the right posting time on Instagram is more complex than it seems, influenced by various factors. For instance, posting consistently at specific times on weekdays generally grabs higher engagement due to users’ routine checks during commutes or breaks, typically between 7 a.m. — 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. — 2 p.m. However, you can also see higher activity on weekends when the audience is more active.
  • Surprisingly, 4 a.m. has emerged as an optimal time to post on Instagram in 2024, attributed to the “early bird gets the worm” effect, catching the attention of morning feed browsers. 
  • Consistency in posting schedules is crucial, cultivating audience anticipation and boosting engagement.
  • Segmenting your audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviours allows for tailored posting times. For instance, targeting lunch breaks for business accounts aligns with when users seek social media content, while personal accounts may find evenings more conducive to capturing user attention.
  • Considering global audiences involves accounting for time zones, and ensuring posts are timed for maximum reach. Tools like Hootsuite, Later, and Buffer facilitate scheduling across different regions, optimising engagement by reaching audiences when they are most active.

In essence, crafting an effective Instagram posting strategy demands strategic planning and audience insight. Don’t forget that preparing is not as important as making reels, so let’s dive into practice.

More about this topic is here.

how to make a reel on instagram
Content planning and creating a content calendar for Reels publishing are also important parts of success.

Mastering the Reels creation process

Accessing the Reels feature

To access the Reels creation tool on Instagram, follow these steps:

Option 1: from the Home screen:

  1. Tap the + icon at the bottom centre of the screen.
  2. A menu will appear with different content creation options. Swipe left on the bottom menu until you find Reel and tap to open the Reels creation interface.

Option 2: from the Reels tab:

  1. Tap the Reels icon (a clapperboard with a play button) in the bottom navigation bar.
  2. In the Reels feed, tap the camera icon at the top right corner of the screen to access the Reels creation tool.
  3. In the creation interface you’ll find various options to customise your video, such as audio, speed, effects, and a timer. Record your clip by holding down the record button in the centre. You can also upload video clips from your gallery by tapping the gallery icon at the bottom left.

The next step is to edit your Reel by adding text, stickers, and other effects. Discover some techniques before you start.

Recording & editing Reels

Reels creation tool has various options to edit your video, here are some of them:

  • After capturing your video, tap the text icon (Aa) at the top to add captions. Type your caption and customise it with various fonts and colours. You can then move and resize the text by dragging and pinching it on the screen.
  • To add music, tap the music note icon on the left before recording. Browse or search for a song in the music library and select the exact portion you want by dragging the slider to the desired spot.
  • For effects, tap the sparkles icon on the left side before or during recording. Explore the different effects and filters, and choose one to enhance your video.
  • Use editing tools to polish your video. The align tool helps create seamless transitions between clips. Tap the align icon before recording a new clip to align objects with the previous one. 
  • To adjust speed, tap the speed icon (1x) on the left before recording and select your preferred speed (0.3x, 0.5x, 1x, 2x, 3x) to slow down or speed up your video. 
  • If you need a timer, tap the clock icon on the left before recording, set the duration for your clip, and hit Set Timer for a countdown, giving you time to get ready.
  • After recording, tap the back arrow to view and edit your clips. Tap an individual clip to trim its length, and drag and drop clips to reorder them.
  • For final edits, review your Reel and make any necessary adjustments, such as adding text, music, and effects. Use the scissors icon to trim the beginning or end of your video.

Once you’re happy with your edits, tap Next. Add a caption, hashtags, and tag people. Finally, choose where you want to share your Reel (feed, stories, or both) and tap Share to publish your creation.

how to make a reel
Crafting an effective Instagram posting strategy demands strategic planning and audience insight.

Importance of captions

Short, punchy captions in Reels are crucial for capturing your audience’s attention. Here’s why:

  • Quick attention-grabbing: in the fast-paced world of social media, concise captions stand out, ensuring your message catches the eyes as users scroll. 
  • Ease of reading: short captions are easy to digest, boosting engagement as viewers quickly understand your message. 
  • Higher engagement: research from Fohr shows that shorter Instagram captions lead to more likes, comments, and shares due to their readability. 
  • Direct communication: brevity ensures your message is clear and impactful without unnecessary details. 
  • Mobile-friendly: compact captions fit well on mobile screens, catering to users’ browsing habits. 
  • Complementary to visuals: brief captions complement your visual content without overshadowing it, striking a perfect balance. 

In essence, brevity is essential on Instagram, aligning perfectly with its fast-paced, visually-driven environment to resonate with a broader audience. Here are tips for crafting impactful Instagram captions:

  1. Keep it concise and focused on one key message.
  2. Use vivid language and emojis to enhance engagement.
  3. End with a clear call to action.
  4. Spark curiosity with brief and intriguing captions.
  5. Match your tone to your brand and experiment with different styles to find what resonates best.

Additional information can be found here. Another significant part of the caption is hashtags, let’s delve into it.

Optimising Reels for engagement

Hashtag research is crucial for your Instagram strategy. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Define your target audience: understand their interests and preferences to choose relevant hashtags.
  • Analyse competitor hashtags: learn from similar brands to find effective hashtags in your niche.
  • Explore Instagram’s Explore page: discover popular hashtags and current trends.
  • Use social listening tools: tools like Mention, or Brandwatch track relevant hashtags and audience interactions.
  • Mix trending and niche hashtags: balance broad reach with targeted engagement.
  • Test and analyse: experiment with different hashtags and monitor results using Instagram analytics.

Regular testing will refine your approach, ensuring your hashtag strategy evolves with your content and audience. For example, at the initial stages of promotion, you can conduct testing once every few weeks or month, and then switch to a frequency of once every 2-3 months. 

Read more about it here.

All these regulations seem comprehended, but you also need to keep in mind the technical aspects of video making.

how long can ig reels be
Video content is widely favoured among social media users.

Technical specifications and best practices

Instagram Reels length & dimensions

When creating Instagram Reels, it’s essential to follow these guidelines to ensure your content aligns with platform standards and captures your audience’s interest effectively:

  • Instagram Reels can now be up to 90 seconds long. This extended length allows you to craft more detailed and creative content, whether it’s an in-depth story, a tutorial, or any other engaging material.
  • The ideal aspect ratio for Instagram Reels is 9:16. This vertical format fits perfectly on mobile screens, providing a more immersive and engaging viewing experience. It matches the typical smartphone screen when held upright, ensuring your content fills the screen without any black bars on the sides.

While creating content that is optimised for Instagram, keep in mind your comfort, so make sure to understand the aspect of saving your Reels.

Saving & sharing Reels

Saving Reels to your device or as drafts on Instagram offers several advantages:

  • Preservation of content: saving Reels ensures you always have a backup of your creative work, safeguarding it from accidental deletion or platform issues on Instagram.
  • Enhanced sharing options: saved Reels can be effortlessly shared on other social media platforms or with friends and followers via messaging apps, expanding your content’s reach and facilitating broader engagement.
  • Offline accessibility: storing Reels on your device allows for instant playback without relying on an internet connection, making it convenient to showcase your content in environments with limited or unreliable internet access.
  • Flexibility in editing: saved Reels can be further refined using external video editing software or apps, empowering you to enhance aspects like captions, effects, or audio before re-sharing or archiving.
  • Effective draft management: by saving Reels as drafts within Instagram, you can refine and perfect them over time before publishing. This functionality supports strategic content planning and ensures consistency in your social media presence. 

In conclusion, downloading Reels or saving them as drafts provides flexibility, security, and increased opportunities for sharing and editing your content. Another part of the work is dealing with your Reels after publication.

how to make an instagram reel
Saved Reels can be further refined using external video editing software or apps, empowering you to enhance aspects like captions, effects, or audio before re-sharing or archiving.

Growing your audience with Reels

Engaging with your viewers

Engaging with your audience through comments, joining trends, and organising contests are essential techniques for enhancing engagement with your Reels on Instagram. Here are 6 reasons why:

  1. Building community: by responding to comments, you cultivate a sense of community and demonstrate appreciation for your audience’s feedback. This strengthens connections with your followers, encouraging them to regularly engage with your content.
  2. Algorithmic impact: instagram’s algorithm favours content that receives high engagement. Prompt responses to comments and active participation in trends or contests signal to the algorithm that your content is engaging, potentially increasing its visibility to a broader audience.
  3. Expanding reach: interactions like comments, likes, and shares can extend the reach of your Reels beyond your follower base. Increased engagement levels make it more likely for your content to appear on Explore pages or in recommendations, attracting new followers and boosting overall visibility.
  4. Authentic brand representation: participating in trends and contests showcases your brand’s personality and relevance within the community. This involvement goes beyond content creation, demonstrating genuine engagement with current topics and audience interests, thereby building trust and authenticity.
  5. Enhanced engagement metrics: contests and trending content often lead to spikes in engagement metrics such as likes, comments, and shares. These metrics not only enhance the visibility of your content but also improve your overall engagement rate, a critical metric for social media success.
  6. Long-term audience growth: consistent engagement through comments, trend participation, and contests fosters a cycle of interaction that supports audience retention and growth. Engaged followers are more likely to become loyal advocates for your brand, contributing to sustained growth and success on Instagram.

These efforts not only drive immediate interactions but also contribute to long-term visibility and success on the platform. The next logical step is analysing your performance. Let’s find out about this theme’s insights.

Analysing Reels performance

Effectively utilising Instagram Insights empowers you to track views, engagement, reach, and identify areas for improvement in your content strategy. Here’s a guide on how to make the most of Instagram Insights:

  • Accessing insights: go to your Instagram profile, tap the menu button and select Insights to access detailed analytics.
  • View metrics overview: on the Insights dashboard, you’ll find key metrics like profile visits, reach, impressions, and interactions over various time frames (7 days, 30 days, or 90 days), providing a snapshot of your content’s performance.
  • Tracking views: navigate to the Content tab within Insights to track views, saves, and shares for individual Reels.
  • Monitoring engagement: insights categorises engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and saves, helping you understand what resonates most with your audience.
  • Analysing reach: insights offer information about audience segments (age, gender, location), aiding in refining your targeting strategies.
  • Identifying areas for improvement: use Insights to spot trends and patterns in audience behaviour. Note which Reels perform best in terms of engagement and reach, and analyse why they connect with your audience.
  • Optimising content strategy: experiment with different content formats, posting times, and themes based on Insights data. Monitor how adjustments affect your metrics and refine your strategy accordingly.
  • Regular monitoring and adjustments: insights are updated continuously, so regularly monitor them to identify emerging trends and make informed decisions about your content strategy.

By leveraging Instagram Insights effectively, you can track content performance, gain deeper audience understanding, and optimise your strategy to enhance engagement, reach, and overall success on the platform.

how to create a reel on instagram
Effectively utilising Instagram Insights empowers you to track views, engagement, reach, and identify areas for improvement in your content strategy.


Now you know all the basic aspects of successful Instagram Reels: preparation, creating process, work with audience and analysis.

Reels provide a dynamic platform for brands and individuals alike to express their identity, engage with audiences through creative video content, and expand their influence on Instagram.

The best time to start creating Reels, refine your existing strategy, or check provided resources is now. Dive into creativity and explore new horizons!

Like it! Share with your friends!

RateMeUp Team

We’re not just a group of anonymous affiliate marketing experts; we’re a close-knit team that’s been working together for over a decade. Our journey began at the inception of affiliate marketing, where we laid the foundation for the very first networks and offers. If you’ve ever been intrigued by affiliate marketing case studies, chances are you’ve already come across our work.