What You Need to Know About Instagram Reels | Balmer Agency

What You Need to Know About Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is finally available in Australia (and 49 other countries), offering yet another format for brands and creators to experiment with short form video content. If you’re itching to test out Instagram’s newest feature, here are a few things to know before making your reels debut.

Why Instagram Reels?

Short form video has become the content of choice for both brands and their audiences. Instagram has already witnessed the effectiveness of short form video content – its stories feature is used by 500 Million people daily, and brands post an average of 2.5 stories per week.

On the other hand, ByteDance owned video sharing platform – TikTok has experienced viral success over the past year. It is now the sixth largest social network in the world (surpassing LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest), and boasts over 800 Million users worldwide. Unfortunately, it has faced political opposition due to its ties with China, with India issuing an outright ban on the app, and other countries like the US threatening to follow suit. Instagram Reels might just be Facebook’s attempt at filling the shoes of video-sharing giant.

The features are oddly similar. Like TikTok, Instagram Reels allows users to create and share short videos accompanied by music. The major difference is that while TikTok feeds and recommendations are guided by user data and AI, Instagram Reels will be subject to the standard Instagram algorithm, hashtags and all. Instagram Reels is already being adopted by multinational companies such as ASOS, and is popular amongst fashion, beauty, health, and food sectors. If you’re looking to leverage Instagram’s newest feature, read our step by step Reels guide below, or speak to one of our social specialists to get a bespoke Instagram strategy for your business.

Online Fashion Retailer – ASOS has been pumping out Reels as part of their Instagram strategy.

How Do I Create an Instagram Reel?

Creating your first reel is easy. Go to your home screen and click on the camera icon in the top left-hand corner above your stories feed. Then select ‘Reels’ as your format of choice (format options like Live, Story and Reels are available at the bottom under the record button).

Recording Your Instagram Reel:

You can record your Instagram Reel within the platform. Select your audio, the speed of your video, the length of your video (you’ll get max. 15 seconds) and any effects or filters you would like to add. You’ll be given a countdown once you click record. Like TikTok, you’ll be able to stop and start recording within your set timeframe. Once your video is recorded, you can add stickers and text and share it to your feed or stories. If you have a public account it may also be shared to the explore page, allowing it to reach people who don’t already follow your account.

Step by step guide to creating an Instagram Reel. 

1. From the home screen, tap the camera icon above your Stories
2. Choose 'Reels' underneath the record button
3. Select your audio, video speed, length (15sec max), and add filters and effects
4. Add stickers and text and share to your feed and stories. If your account's public, it may be shared to the explore page, reaching more people, not just your followers

Uploading Your Instagram Reel:

When creating a reel, you can also choose the option of uploading a pre-recorded video from your camera roll. If you choose this option, you’ll need to keep in mind the optimal aspect ratios for this feature.

Instagram Reels requires the same aspect ratio as Instagram Stories – that is 9:16 (1080 X 1920) vertical video. This is how it will be viewed when people click on it in their explore tab or in your Reels gallery. This is the aspect ratio that Reels should be uploaded in.

However, Reels appear in newsfeeds at a 4:5 ratio (1080 X 1350) so you’ll need to make sure that all important information in your feed fits into a 1080 X 1350 area.

Two phones showing side by side comparison of Reels in feed view and Reels when you open them from your Reels Gallery or Explore Page
How Reels appear in your feed VS. how they appear when you open them to view. Source: Culture Kings

Another thing to consider is the thumbnail of your Reel that will be displayed in your account’s grid. This is 9:16 in your Reels Gallery and 1:1 (standard Instagram square) in your main grid. When sharing your newly created Reel, you can choose the thumbnail (aka cover image) from your video or upload one form your camera roll.

Two phones showing how reel thumbnails appear in your Instagram Grid VS. how they appear in your Reels gallery
How Reel thumbnails appear in your grid VS. how they appear in your Reels gallery. Source: Culture Kings

Adding Audio to Brand Reels

Most business accounts might find that they cannot access the option to add audio from Instagram’s song library due to copyright rules. The only option is to upload your own audio files or use the ‘original audio’ form another users account. ‘Original audio’ will be labelled as such at the bottom of the reel.

Phone showing Instagram Reel from the brand Culture Kings. Audio section listing 'Original Audio' is highlighted with a red box
You can use ‘original audio’ from other Reels. Source: Culture Kings


Instagram Reels like all other feed posts can be accompanied by a caption and hashtags. We recommend keeping your captions short and snappy, they will cut off at around 45 characters (with spaces), and your audience will need to click ‘more’ to read the rest of it. Make sure to include hashtags as you would on other Instagram posts.

What Kind of Content Should I Share Through Reels?

The options are endless when deciding what content to share through Reels. You can use it to showcase your range of products and services in creative ways. Here are a few ideas:

  • How your product is created
  • How they are used – incorporated staff/user generated content or content from brand ambassadors
  • Showcase your range of products in a creative way e.g. Louis Vuitton showcased their latest collection with a stylish take on the viral ‘phone drop’ challenge.
Louis Vuitton’s Instagram Reels leveraging the viral ‘phone drop’ challenge.

reels as part of your wider instagram strategy

Reels are great for telling your brand story and showing a more light-hearted side to your brand’s personality. We suggest utilising it alongside all of Instagram’s other video content formats including Stories, Instagram Live and IGTV.

If you’re still unsure about how Reels can benefit your business, get in touch for more ideas on how you can incorporate Instagram’s newest feature into your marketing strategy.

Table showing the capabilities and benefits of using various Instagram video formats - Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, IGTV and Instagram Reels
Instagram Stories is used by 500 million people daily.
One third of the most viewed stories are from businesses.
By the end of 2020 live streaming is expected to account for 82% of all Internet Traffic.
By 2021 mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile traffic.