How to Maximize Instagram Reels (And Engagement!)


Image: sdx15 / Adobe Stock

If you’ve been creating Instagram Reels and seeing good results — you’re not alone. Whether you stumbled upon Reels and enjoy them, or you see competitors making them overnight, Reels are an important part of an overall social media strategy. However, there are do’s and don’ts to maximize each Reel, which helps amplify engagement, reach and, eventually, sales!

Reels Are “In”

To elevate engagement, we’ve learned to do whatever is hot on Instagram — and today, it’s all about Reels. (If Reels are new to you, check out this step-by-step guide from Instagram:

Later, a social media scheduling software leader, claims they’ve seen a 500% (or more) increase in their engagement rate since embracing Reels as part of their Instagram strategy.1 Truthfully, to stay in the game of attracting new followers — and therefore, potential customers — Reels must be part of a company’s social media mix.

One caveat, is it’s still important to review metrics to compare the performance of Reels versus other content. In the Facebook/Instagram (now Meta) Q1 2022 earnings call, it was noted Reels makes up more than 20% of the time people spend on Instagram. There could be value in uploading a Reel per day, but don’t stop posting fresh Instagram stories and feed posts, too.

Meta releases approximately 10+ updates per month for their platforms. They’re pushing Reels hard with recent updates, which says videos are now Reels. IGTV is gone. Any video less than 90 seconds automatically is now a Reel. Technically, you are making Reels whether you like it or not — so why not make them good?

What is that strategy of creating a connected brand to Reels? The following are the “must-dos” for Reels.

“ There are do’s and don’ts to maximize each Reel, which helps amplify engagement, reach and, eventually, sales! ”

7 Must-Haves For Every Reel

1. A Good Hook. This is the key to views. The hook is shown early with a text overlay immediately in the video. Keep the text short and sweet.

2. A “Meaty” Middle. After the hook, have a middle (the meat of the story) and an end. Think of every Reel as a mini story of your brand. Tell that story in 15 seconds or less.

3. A Call To Action (CTA). After the hook and middle, the end should be the CTA. What do you want them to do? Sign up for emails? Visit the store? Visit link to purchase?

4. Dabble With Creative Transitions. No need to fly in/out of clothing or a room, but those transitions are fun and captivating, and keep people watching.

5. Match The Rhythm Of The Music. This isn’t always easy, so Instagram came out with templates. If a Reel you like has a template, save it. It will show exact timing for the video/music to match. Here’s how to use/find templates in Reels:
• Tap the three dots on the bottom right of the Reel you want to use as a template.
• Tap Use as template. (Note: Not all Reels have this button.)
• Tap Add media at the bottom and select the photos or videos in the order you want them to appear in your Reel. You can also tap each clip, tap Replace media and select the photo or video to insert.
• Tap Next in the bottom right to preview and share your Reel.

6. Be Authentic! No matter what is posted — a static image, 10-minute video or a 15-second Reel, if comes across as inauthentic, the audience leaves quickly.

7. Follow The Trends. From trendy music to transitions, it helps to stay on top of what’s new. Visit Later’s “Reels Trends” blog post that is updated frequently: Pro Tip: If you have an Instagram Business account, you’ll be restricted on some of trending music. To gain access, keep the business account, but change the “category” to Entrepreneur. (Do all this under “Edit Profile.”)

3 Reels Mistakes To Avoid

There are mistakes made when creating Reels and sometimes it’s just a matter of experimenting with your own content and comfort level. Some people don’t like being on camera, but the audience might demand it. Avoid the following mistakes so your channel’s overall reach can be maximized to make an impact.

1. Making Edits Outside Of The Instagram App — Such As In TikTok. Instagram favors original content and if it recognizes content from another app, it will assume the content is being utilized elsewhere, too. This is a guaranteed way to have your reach and views throttled.

2. Not Creating Different Video Lengths. Long videos are fun and yes, showing off the brand is a must — but short videos (less than 15 seconds) will help attract new users, who can then be converted. Consider long form (say 30 seconds or longer) videos, which offer more value-added content for existing users.

3. Long Captions. There are exactly 55 characters of text for the caption before Reels cuts it off with “…more…” and most people won’t tap on the “more” to read it. When they do press the “more” option, it expands the caption on top of the video, which is difficult to read. A recent Reels update added closed captioning, which is highly recommended if you’re not already using overlaying text.

Boasting 287,000+ followers on Instagram, Ready Gunner (Orem, Utah) has fun with
its Reels and reaps the benefits of high view counts and engagement.

10 Reels Tips to Get More Views (and Buyers!)

1. Show your face.
2. Create both super short (7–10 secs) and longer form (+30 secs).
3. Get that hook early!
4. Add text with timing.
5. Keep captions short.
6. Think of being “info-taining.”
7. Experiment!
8. Use closed-captioning.
9. Educate.
1o Enjoy the process!

The Business Side

If you have a Reel that’s doing well, or you want additional exposure to a Reel, Instagram recently opened Boosted Reels. These Reels will appear in the feed, Stories, Reels and Explore sections of Instagram. There are some restrictions, such as Reels containing music, GIFs or interactive stickers. The restrictions are doable, but it requires pre-planning to see what content will fit into these parameters.

Lastly, it’s helpful to be a consumer of Reels and Instagram content to spark ideas. Saving audio is a must as a light will suddenly go off on how to use that audio to promote your business. Also, when feeling good — batch create! Create a few Reels at a time and save them to drafts. Attending a major trade show? Take one to three second videos all day long and then when your feet need a break, start batch creating Reels.

Don’t get discouraged if your Reels have only a few hundred views. Every Instagram account has Reels that have done well, and those that haven’t. But when a Reels’ views “takes off,” it’s exciting!

Now, you have a formula for what your audience desires. Most importantly, enjoy the process, and if that’s difficult to do, find someone within the business who does and make them the designated Reels creator.


Want a challenge to post a Reel-a-day?

CLICK HERE to download a 30-day Reels calendar.

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