How to Make a Reel on Instagram in 5 Steps [2023 Guide]

Manu Sheen
Manu Sheen
Customer Success Manager at Insense
A girl filming an instagram reel

Found out that Instagram reels are getting all eyes on them? Want to leverage them as part of your marketing strategy?

That’s a fantastic idea!

The main issue you may have is that you don’t know the best practices for creating eye-catching and algorithm-compatible reels.

No worries at all—we’ve got you, mate! 

We’ve prepared a concise guide explaining the entire process of creating fab reels in easy-to-follow steps.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • A step-by-step process for creating Instagram reels
  • How this process will differentiate your reels

So, let’s get started!

Step #1: Start with a Storyboard and a Strategy

As Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “by failing to plan, you’re preparing to fail”. 

The same principle applies to your marketing efforts. If you want to create a killer Instagram reel video, you should prepare your marketing strategy and follow it through to completion.

Before getting to that stage, though, you need to have a list of content ideas that you can schedule. We call this content collection a storyboard.

A storyboard is a detailed outline that depicts your social media perspective. It’s a sequence of squares containing concepts for content pieces.

There are many ways to create your storyboard—from pen and paper to Google Sheets or storyboarding tools like Plot and Studiobinder.

Regardless of the tool used to create it, a typical storyboard should contain details like: 

  • Title ideas
  • Research
  • Outline or script
  • Shot list (detailed list of every camera shot)

As you can see, a storyboard captures the creative direction of a content calendar, and it’s an initial part of the strategy.

The strategy is a part of any marketing effort since it defines the actions, goals, and personas involved. It’s the secret sauce in many campaigns and successful Instagram reels.

Creating a winning strategy requires effort and knowledge, which is one of the most crucial parts of producing high-quality, engaging content.

Follow these steps to create an effective Instagram reel strategy:

  1. Set clear goals: These can be defined by answering what you want to achieve through Instagram reels. The answer may vary based on the expected outcomes, such as higher engagement rates, reach, brand awareness, conversions, and more. 
  2. Identify audience personas: Find out what your audience is looking for, their needs, and the problem they’re trying to solve. This requires a tremendous amount of research, but it’s worth it! It will help you create content that your audience will relate to.
  3. Form topic clusters: Once you’ve researched what excites your audience, you should have identified the topics they care about. So it’s time to create a list of potential topics and related keywords to form clusters. Keep in mind that reels should be entertaining and provide value. 
  4. Research competitors: Identify which content works well and which doesn’t and understand the reasons behind its performance. Evaluate the content through different metrics to help you get an objective picture.

The strategy will guide you to an Instagram reel campaign's ideation, production, and measuring stages.

Note: Usually, the first part of any marketing campaign is a strategy that follows a storyboard containing creative directions. 

Now that all the planning is done, it’s time to take action.

Step #2: Create Your Reel Material

As you’ve gathered content ideas that align with your Instagram marketing strategy, the time for content creation has come. 

This step of making an Instagram reel requires time and effort to film the appropriate clips to get your reel live. 

When creating reel content, there are basically two options that you should consider: 

  • Repurposing and uploading existing footage
  • Filming new content 

Let’s look into both.

Use existing footage

The idea of using existing footage is to repurpose videos to fit the Instagram reel guidelines

The best thing is that you can edit existing clips to make shorter video content and create multiple reels. This will save you the time and effort that come with filming content from scratch.

You can also use original Instagram features that allow you to remix reel content produced and uploaded by other users or creators.

Image Source: Instagram

To use this feature, simply press the three dots (...) in the top right corner of any reel and tap the “Remix” button.

Then you have two choices: add your reel by the side of the original video or play it after the original video.

Image Source: Instagram

You can upload videos on Instagram by:

  • Pressing the plus button (+) on the bottom of the screen
  • Scrolling horizontally to the left side of your home screen

Now we’ve covered the less creative method of creating reel material, let’s dive into the filming process.

Shoot your own reel

The most creative part of this guide is about to start, so prepare your phone and ring lights, and you’re ready to go!

Start filming by holding the round white recording button. A pink border will appear around the circle showing the length of your video.

You can also start filming by pressing the reels tab on your Instagram account and tapping the reel icon at the top of the screen. 

Image Source: Instagram

In the filming screen on the Instagram app, there are some tools that help you shoot your videos, including:

  • Music note: Add music or sounds when filming.
  • Length: Several options exist for 15, 30, 60, or 90 seconds.
  • Speed: Speed up your clips or make slow-motion scenes.
  • Layout: Feature multiple clips on the same screen with different templates.
  • Timer: A countdown will appear before filming begins.
  • Dual: Film with both cameras of your phone.
  • Align: This button appears after you record your first clip, and it allows you to line up objects.

If these technical details and settings give you a headache, there’s also the option of outsourcing your video content production to influencers.

Collaboration tools like Insense can save you time and effort while finding the best content creators to nail your reel campaigns. 

Not only will influencers make content creation easier for you but they will also boost your posts’ engagement rates. User-generated content (UGC) is loved by users and can help your content to go viral. 

Once you’ve filmed your clips, click the “Preview” button so that you can add text, artificial reality (AR) effects, stickers, animations, or gifs to your reels. 

Note: Remember to download your videos before moving on to the next steps. This will ensure that you’ve saved the content you’ve produced.

Step #3: Preview and Add Effects and Text

This step will help you to perfect your reel.

When reviewing a reel, it is important to identify if its design fits in with the social media platform’s aesthetics.

In fact, Instagram has uploaded a carousel to its creator’s profile about the best practices for reels

Based on Instagram guidelines, creators should use built-in features on their reels and music from the Instagram music library while avoiding uploading original content from other social platforms like TikTok.

So, content creators and marketers have to identify if their produced content satisfies the Instagram algorithm and its parameters. 

Basically, creators should pay attention to creating short-form, entertaining videos that add value to their audience.

This way, they ensure that their reels will be visible to more people and attract the audience’s attention.

Once your content satisfies all these factors, then it’s time to use creative tools like text, filters, or camera effects.

To access filters and AR effects, press the sparkles icon on the top of your reel editor. There are many trending effects, like greenscreen and much more.

All these features are quite similar to those of Instagram stories, so chances are you’re already familiar with them.

However, it’s best to keep in mind that some features are more important for reels than they are for stories. For instance, maybe the most important feature when creating reels is text. 

Text is more important than you can imagine. This is because many users have their phones on mute by default, so you can’t attract them by using trending music.

Adding text can be a great hook idea to attract Instagram users before scrolling away from your content.

Ensuring you’ve followed Instagram guidelines will boost engagement to your social media posts.

And, as we just touched on the basics of the original effects and features of Instagram, we’ll dive into the world of editing next.

Step #4: Edit Your Instagram Reel

Where to start and where to finish when it comes to Instagram reel content editing? Editing can be tough. But worry not!

We’ll guide you through the whole process covering all the necessary steps to create compelling reels that even beginners can handle by using original editing tools. 

First and foremost, we have the length and the order of your content. You can access Instagram's built-in editor tool through the “Trim” button in the bottom left corner. This option allows you to shorten your clips, remove specific scenes, or even delete them.

Image Source: Instagram

Then you can edit your music through the relevant button on the editor’s screen. 

Image Source: Instagram

There are many options in terms of music—from decreasing the original audio volume and adding a voiceover record to importing a sound from another video clip or even adding trending sound effects to help your reel go viral. 

Image Source: Instagram

One great feature to add to your reel is closed captions. You can access this feature by tapping the square smiley face icon on the top of your screen and selecting “Captions”.

When Instagram transcribes your content, it allows you to customize the fonts and the style of Instagram captions.

Normally, Instagram’s transcription makes spelling mistakes. So, ensure you review and adjust the caption before uploading the reel.

In the same tab, you can access several stickers that boost audience engagement, such as polls, quizzes, and questions. 

Image Source: Instagram

These features encourage users to interact with Instagram reels directly.

Make sure to create a valuable piece of content that aligns with your social media marketing objectives.

Video editing is done! Now there are only a few adjustments before you can share the content with your brand’s followers. 

Step #5: Share Your Reel

After the editing part, the moment of truth is coming. All you have to do is upload your reel and embrace the glory. 

This is by far the easiest part of creating an Instagram reel.

When you’re done editing, tap the “Next” button to prepare what your followers will see in their Instagram feeds.

Image Source: Instagram

Next, you need to:

  • Select a cover image: You can either choose a frame from your video as a cover or an image from the camera roll. 
  • Write a caption: This is the written content that your target audience will read. A pro tip to keep in mind is that users can see only the first words of your text on their screen, and they have to press “more” to read the whole caption. So, make sure to catch users’ attention with a micro-text hook.
  • Tag people: You have two options here: “Add Tag” and “Invite Collaborator”. The second option is quite interesting since the uploaded content will be displayed on your Instagram profile and your collaborator’s profile.
  • Add topics: Hashtags aren’t the only way to categorize your reel on Instagram anymore. You can select up to three topics related to your reel and match viewers who are interested in that type of content.
  • Add location: By typing a place name, like a city or a store, there is a related tab called “Places” on the Instagram search page. So you should definitely add a location to your reel to increase its visibility.
  • Advanced settings: Most people are unaware of many cool options and new features in advanced settings, like the “Scheduling this reel” button that helps you schedule reels through Instagram’s built-in tool. You can even enable a “Partnership label” for branded content and sponsored reels.

Now you’re ready to press the “Share” button to immediately post reels and reach new audiences.

If you’ve followed each step up to this point, you’ve done it. Your reel is uploaded! 

Let’s wrap things up! 

Now Over to You

There you have it!

You now have a detailed plan for creating compelling Instagram reels in five easy steps.

Although we’ve divided the whole process into smaller and actionable steps, it still requires a fair chunk of work.

The essential part is shooting the content or finding collaborators to manage this step. 

Insense makes this process easier since we help brands identify the best partners through a database of 35,000+ creators who produce reels and repurpose content in multiple forms.

Feel free to book a demo with Insense to get access to our network of creative professionals. 

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