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Quick Guide to Instagram Reels

Marketing your work on social media? Let’s talk about reels.

As I’m sure you’ve already seen around the community and just through the changes to the platform thus far, reels are an incredible benefit to your Instagram endeavors! That’s not just because Instagram will pay a select group of content creators for making them, but it’s an added incentive for sure (assuming the bonuses page would ever actually open for me T-T).

The most important reason why reels can benefit your marketing is reach. Reels aren’t like normal posts in that they’re only seen by your followers and by people who follow the hashtags you use. If a reel does well (and even sometimes if it doesn’t), it can get pushed out to thousands of people who don’t follow you. That’s hugely important if you want to reach more readers! A good reel will turn chance viewers into followers and, hopefully, people who will want to support you and your work. Another reach benefit to reels is that, also unlike your average picture, carousel, or even video post, a reel will live a much longer life. By that, I mean that a reel you posted a week or even a month ago may suddenly draw more attention and engagement. With reels, you can easily reach new followers while still serving those who already support you. So, I bet you’re thinking “well, Sydney, how am I supposed to make these reels?”. Let’s dig into it!

Like any other post on social media networks, the name of the content game is value. That means your goal should first and foremost be providing some sort of value to your followers and anyone taking the time to view your content. That value can take the form of tips and tricks, teasers and insight into your work, entertainment, and more. Because reels reach out to such a greater audience than your average IG content, it’s more important than with any other medium of post to keep your content focused in on your niche, that’s the focus of your page. For me and likely many of you, that niche will be creative writing and books! So, do your best to keep your content solely focused on those things. If you make a reel about your cat and it goes viral, as great as that sounds, it will ultimately do more harm than good. The reason for this is that the cat-reel will draw the attention of cat lovers. You may also be a cat lover, but if you have followers waiting for more feline-focused content, they’re either going to unfollow you shortly after following or stay and tank your engagement insights once you start posting about things related to your niche again.

The next thing that’s important to your reel gameplan is something that applies universally across all content strategy: consistency. No, this doesn’t mean you need to post every single day at the exact same time of day or everyone will unfollow you. What this does mean is that whatever routine you decide on, whether it really is every day, three times a week, or even once bi-weekly, that you stick with it. Instagram’s algorithm when pushing out content is based somewhat on trust. (Note here that I’m not using technical terms because I’m not really an expert. If you want expert advice, I’ll be pointing some out at the end of this article.) When you start posting consistently, your engagement stays consistent, and usually grows. Once your page becomes a hub for comments, likes, saves, and shares (all valuable engagement metrics to pay attention to), Instagram can trust you to be a reason people spend more time on the app and thus, see more advertisements and making them more money. So, the app will test out more of your content the more it can depend on you as a creator for drawing people to the app. The same thing can be said about consistency in reverse, so be sure to stick with your goals and start small and reasonable when making them!

Now, how does one boost engagement on reels? Calls to action! CTA’s are pretty common advice across all posting mediums and with reels, they can help turn a view or a like into a comment! It’s more effective in the video itself, but caption CTAs can be effective as well. Some CTA examples for you:

- Tips in the caption

- Follow for more

- Comment your Current Read

- QOTD’s

- Etc.

So, now that we’ve covered the main points, here are some of my tips when it comes to the actual making of a successful reel (in list form because this very casual blog post is getting very long!):

- Include something to grab attention.

o Transitions and titles that promise more to come are great examples of tactics that might help stop the scroll.

- Use the right audio

o Right now, the app is focused on helping to boost original content, so if you’ve ever wanted to experiment with original audio, now is the time!

o Otherwise, trending audios do still help to boost your reel, just make sure you apply it to your niche and that any lip-synching is as accurate as you can make it.

- Use quality video.

o You don’t have to buy a new phone or use a proper camera. Just clean your phone’s cameras and open the window! Those things can make a cheap, positive difference.

Making reels can be an intimidating practice and I think part of that is the amount of time it can sometimes take to make them. So, while it gets easier and faster with practice just like anything else, my advice would be to batch content where you can. While you’re scrolling, make it productive by saving audios you’d like to use in the future. If you’re feeling especially inspired to film some reels, film a bunch! Don’t stop to write captions if it’ll slow productivity. It’s perfectly alright to record five, or even twenty reels in one day. Sometimes, setting aside a few hours a week just to record or batch other content can be the best thing for getting ourselves away from social media and actually working on our books.

Want more advice? Like I said, I’m not an expert. I’ve just been tasked with this article because I’ve been doing it for a while. If you want to learn more and get consistently updated tips on how to do the most with the time you have for your social media strategy, check out these great accounts! I’m sure there are a lot more out there, but I learned everything I know from these two and from trying it myself so I couldn’t recommend their advice more. That said, if you have any other questions, feel free to reach out, either here, by DM (which I can be slow to respond to, sorry!) or in the comments of the post about this blog on our Instagram.

The Experts:

Meet Sydney Alexis

Sydney Alexis is the author of the forthcoming YA High Fantasy novel, The Daughter of Dawn, written at just 18. Based in Southern California, Sydney will graduate in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in French horn performance, her other passion. Alexis, a self-proclaimed nerd, cites her greatest writing influences to be her love of anime, video game plotlines, fantasy novels, and epic music. Through her work, both with the horn and the pen, Sydney aims to inspire young musicians and writers to chase their own dreams.

You can find Sydney on Instagram @author_s.alexis, or visit her to learn more about her and her writing.

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