Whether you're a small business or an individual creative, social media like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook provide ample opportunities to expand your audience.
Instagram Reels is a short-form video feature and a fairly new addition to Instagram's line-up of tools.
Video content has proven to capture and hold an audience's attention better than photo or text alone--according to Hootsuite, video posts on Instagram have a .76% higher Engagement Rate (ER) than static photo posts (a meaningful difference in ER), and an additional Hootsuite experiment suggested that Instagram Reels were helpful in driving traffic and increasing subscribers. All signs seem to say: Instagram Reels is definitely an effective tool for increasing social media engagement!.
However, many find appearing on-camera to be daunting, uncomfortable, even terrifying.
What even is Instagram Reels?
With Instagram Reels, you can create short videos up to 30 seconds long, easily editing clips together, applying filters or Augmented Reality (AR) features, adding text, or including music from Instagram's music library, original audio from you or another user, or voice over. Functions like Remix allow you to record your own Reel and add it side-by-side to another Reel, so you can collaborate, hop on trends, or add your own commentary or riff. Video editing tools are included in the feature and are easy to use.
Instagram Reels is Instagram's direct answer to the wildly popular platform TikTok, and a clear indication of the increasing power and popularity of short-form videos, especially among younger audiences.
Instagram is clearly making competition with TikTok a priority: they recently announced that Instagram Reels reposted from TikTok, as evidenced by the TikTok watermark, would be punished by Instagram's AI with reduced visibility and decreased promotion to potential new viewers.
While it's easier to build an audience from scratch on TikTok, thanks to the app being video-only and their powerful proprietary algorithm, Instagram Reels are incredibly potent for Instagram users who already have a following--whether than be large or relatively small.
Instagram Reel Ideas and Inspiration
If you hate being on camera, fear not: how-to videos, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and news are the four most popular video subjects on Instagram Reels, and none of them require showing your face or doing a dance!
There are dozens of ways to make engaging Reels if you have stage fright:
As mentioned above, how-to or diy instructions are incredibly popular. You can make an earnest instructional video highlighting a focus of your brand, or a joking how-to: a life-hack video or DIY pillow instructions versus a 30 second video on how to give yourself braces or rule the world.
Give your audience a look behind the curtain: do you have a studio or production floor? No matter what subject, you can nearly always show behind the scenes!
Day in the life
If you're uncomfortable showing yourself on-camera, do a day-in-the-life video for a pet, an employee or coworker, or even an inanimate object!
Do you have employees or coworkers who are comfortable being on camera? You can start an interview or question series. It can even be something silly, like what's their favorite knock-knock joke, or something more prescient, like their favorite product offered by your business.
What are common processes of your work, whether that be animation, manufacturing, or cleaning? Take your audience on a time-lapsed journey, beginning to end.
Before and after
Show off your work with before and after videos! Potential customers may be amazed at the results, especially when they're put next to each other so starkly.
There are few subjects more universally appealing than beloved pets. Highlight your interesting, silly, or endearing animal companions. Offering their internal thoughts or sweet captions may enchant your audience.
Respond to another video and join the conversation using the Remix function in Instagram Reels--and if you don't want to show your face on camera, you can simply use voice-over, text, or text-to-speech.
Whether it's a quick recipe or simply footage of fresh bread or the first spoonful of a sundae, a Reel highlighting delicious food will often go over well with audiences.
Share a recipe you love with simple steps and accompanying clips.
Animated gifs and videos
Add to a conversation by sharing popular memes, videos, or gifs through Reels with your own caption or commentary!
Headliner and animated audio
If you happen to have a podcast, repurposing audio for Instagram Reels can expand your audience. Try adding a visual element by animating audio with apps like Headliner.
Product and product features
Can you highlight specific products you make or use in your work? Show your audience their unique beauties, conveniences, and features. What makes each product great?
Testimonials & reviews
Feature rave reviews of your business! You can animate text using products like Canva, or even highlight clips of viewers or customers.
Surroundings & POV video
Travel and nature videos can prove popular. Share put-together videos of your beautiful surroundings at home or out of town set to music.
Everyone loves free stuff! Feature giveaways and promotions with your Instagram Reels.
Instagram Video Tips
Similar tips apply to Instagram Reels as any Instagram video.
Use good lighting! Natural light by a window or outdoors is an easy way to get a well-lit video without a studio setup.
Keep it short and sweet. Reels are 30 seconds max! If it's a DIY video with heavy instructions, you can make a multi-part series, even spacing it out over several days for more content.
Use filters and AR from Instagram to spice up your videos. It's all integrated into the Reels function--explore and have fun!
Use the Align option to help edit your clips together--it will help center the same person or subject in the middle of the screen through your entire Reel, making your video neater and easier to follow.
Make your Reel accessible to a wider audience by making use of hashtags--be sure to include several.
Reuse old content with a flashback or throwback caption!
Try to collaborate with similar businesses or influencers to expand both of your reach and generate interesting content.
Post your videos at prime times of day--look at your analytics to see when your audience is most active, or try for generally-active times of day. Mornings before 10:00 AM, lunchtimes around 12:00 noon, and evenings between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM after dinner are good target times. Experiment and post content at different times, and observe which days and times consistently perform better for you!
Check in with your analytics in Reels at least once a month to better understand how your videos are doing and what your audience likes.
Examples of Faceless Instagram Reels from Influencers
Use the Explore tab in Instagram to find inspiration for your own Reels, or check out the content from your favorite influencers.
Here are some popular Instagram influencers making use of Reels without putting themselves on camera to get your wheels turning: