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Using Instagram Reels as part of your marketing strategy

Feeling overwhelmed with using video as part of your content marketing strategy? Read on for tips to keep it simple with Instagram Reels!

I recently wrote a newsletter article for my client, art law and advisory firm Guest Work Agency, about how artists, gallerists, advisers and others in the art world can get started with Instagram Reels (cheesy pointing and dancing not needed, I promise)! Although the article was written with creatives in mind, it provides tips for any business owner or professional looking for a beginners' guide to Reels.

This article was originally published on the Guest Agency Work website here.

A beginner's guide to using Instagram Reels as part of your marketing strategy

It can feel like it’s difficult to keep up with the latest social media trend and Instagram is one of the worst offenders. The platform is constantly introducing new features to keep up with its competitors. But there’s one feature that looks set to stay: Instagram Reels.

Instagram Reels is a direct competitor to TikTok and yet another example of the increasing popularity of video as an easily consumable format. A Reel is a short video (up to 60 seconds long) that can be put together in a series of clips to tell a story. Typically Reels feature text and audio (either music, narration, ie talking to camera, or voiceovers) and are designed to capture users’ attention as they scroll through endless Reels.

The advantage of Reels over other Instagram content formats such as Stories is reachability. Reels are seen by Instagram users outside of your existing network. This makes them the perfect tool for reaching a brand new audience and increasing your existing following (without paying for ads!).

It goes without saying that being a part of the art community means you have plenty of creative and visual content to work with, which is perfect for inspiring and captivating the attention of Instagram users!

There are plenty of resources online to help with creating Reels, but here are some tips if you’re just starting out.

When it comes to Instagram Reels, do your research

If you’re not familiar with Reels, the first thing is to do your research. You can view Reels by selecting the icon at the right of the magnifying glass at the bottom of your Instagram home screen (it has a little triangle “play” button). To move through different Reels, swipe up. Make sure you have the volume turned up as audio is a big part of Reels.

You’ll be shown a combination of Reels from accounts you follow, your interests and other topics the algorithm has chosen for you!

You can also take a look at the Reels of specific accounts by selecting the Reels feed on that user’s account. It should sit to the right of the main grid. If they’ve never published a Reel, you won’t see this option.

Try different ways of creating and editing

Instagram has a native Reels editor, which is great for collating short clips together and editing features like adding text and different filters. There are some shortfalls, however. For example, if you film within the editor, save as a draft and return to it later, you’ll be unable to trim the length of your clips.

For this reason, I suggest filming video using your phone and then uploading into the Reels editor afterwards so you can edit. Or edit your individual clips in another app. I recommend InShot for easy video editing with slick transition features. You can also use Canva’s video editor.

Know the trends... But don't get caught up in them!

One objection to publishing Reels that I hear often is people feel uncomfortable adopting some of the (frankly irritating!) trends they see, such as dancing on camera and pointing at text captions. My response is always the same: don’t do it! Reels are a great way to tell a story and capture the imagination of users, and that can be done in many different ways.

If you ARE your brand, then showing your face on camera once in a while is a good idea, however, it should be done in an authentic way. And if video is not the right format for that, you can save your face for photos on your profile.

Although Reels are videos, you can get creative with what you include. Your Reels can be “slideshows” including a combination of still images with video timed to music. They can be single videos, perhaps a time lapse showing the last few stages of creating an artwork.

A tip on audio: you can save the audio file of other reels to reuse. Simply tap on the name of the audio (seen at the bottom of a reel), then on “Save audio”. You’ll be able to access this within the Reels editor. This allows you to reuse audio that’s trending on Instagram, broadening your reach.

Future-proof your Reels and reach more users

Instagram is putting more emphasis on keywords for its content (basically more of an SEO approach). This means that you should focus on keyword-rich text on your videos, in your captions and for your hashtags (the recommended number of which at time of writing this article is 3 to 5 hashtags per caption).

No matter how your reels look, always include text. For easier searchability and to please the algorithm, always add text from within the native Instagram Reels editor. You can create and edit your video content outside of the platform, but Instagram will not read text overlay that hasn’t been added within its own Reels editor.

And finally... Repurpose your content!

It can feel overwhelming to have one more thing to do for your business that takes you away from your craft and, well… actually managing your business! My advice for clients when it comes to Instagram (or any other shiny new marketing platform) is always to repurpose content you’ve already created. This is easily achieved with Reels. Have you been interviewed for an art magazine article? Pull out some quotes and images for a short, sharp Reel. Are you a filmmaker? Slice and dice your films into small, digestible clips, add some simple text over the top, and you have yourself a Reel.

Your Instagram Reels should feed into your overall marketing strategy, always going back to who you’re trying to reach, what you want to communicate and what action you want your audience to take as a result.

If you want some guidance on your content marketing strategy, get in touch with me by emailing!

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