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What Makes an Instagram Reel Successful

If you’ve been avoiding creating video content for Instagram—it’s intimidating, we know—it’s time to rethink your strategy, because video is only going to become more critical. In July, Instagram's CEO, Adam Mosseri, said it himself: "I need to be honest, I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time.”

Reels have become one of the main factors in growing accounts. But what makes a successful Reel?

Our Social Media Manager, Mathilda Lambert, shares her top 7 Reels DOs and DON'Ts:

Tip 1: DO have a hook. Ever scroll mindlessly through Reels on Instagram? What's going to make you stop and watch a video? The first few seconds of a Reel are CRUCIAL. Give an introduction to what your video is about in the first 3 seconds to grab attention QUICKLY. A Reel should be one of 3 things: entertaining, educational, or inspirational.

Tip 2: DON'T just post and cross your fingers. Getting views and engagement in the initial hours of posting is key for the algorithm to continue pushing out your post. If your Reel doesn’t get enough engagement early on, Instagram will de-prioritize it and show it to a smaller audience. Send the Reel to friends and colleagues and ask them to give your Reel a like, comment, save, or share. We also recommend reposting your Reel to stories and engaging with other accounts' posts to drive traffic to your page.

Tip 3: DO toggle on the option of 'Share to feed' to ensure your followers see your Reel on their newsfeed. To ensure the Reel cover fits with your overall feed aesthetic, you can upload a custom cover image and even preview and adjust the crop before posting.

Tip 4: DO consume Reels yourself. Keep tabs on the type of content you personally enjoy - if it sticks with you, it's likely it will stick with your audience too. Watching Reels will also ensure you're in the know about trending content and popular sounds to use, and teach you new ways to create content. Don't copy but rather, get inspired! Save the posts that resonate with you, so you can look back at a glance and use the sounds and templates they’re set to.

Tip 5: DO keep it short. Research indicates the average adult attention span is about 8 seconds, a number that continues to drop year-over-year. There's a high chance the Reel sitting in your drafts can be cut down by a few more seconds.

Tip 6: DO look at the data. Review analytics using Instagram Insights and repeat the type of content that does well. Pay specific attention to saves, shares and plays. A lot of accounts were able to grow through Reels by finding a niche and sticking to it.

Tip 7: DON'T get penalized by Instagram. Make sure to hit these easy wins: do not include a visible watermark from another platform (i.e. TikTok), use vertical videos, use a good camera (It's 2022 - there is no excuse for low resolution video quality on social media), and use Instagram native tools as much as possible (think music, text overlay, and effects).

If creating video content is still too intimidating, it can help to bring on an agency partner. At PUBLiSH, digital storytelling is our specialty—and that includes Instagram Reels. Please reach out to us if you’d like to set up a consultation and see if PUBLiSH is a fit for your brand’s social or PR goals.


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