TikTok and Instagram Reels are the biggest short-form content pushers available today. They’ve occupied a huge space on the Internet and a major chunk of our attention in very little time. It’s like Shark Tank except here, you’re given 15 seconds to pitch to the sharks (your audience) for a percentage of their time. It’s a fun platform to showcase your brand, your quirks and your aesthetic briefly. From BTS videos to product videos to hacks and customer feedback, turns out you can do all of them within the short timeframe. You don’t have four acts here to drag your story. What you do have is 15 precious seconds to draw your audience in, watch the entire video, preferably on a loop, and hopefully get them to your profile and explore. Say what you will about its addictive and repetitive nature, planning and making a reel is an art. Here are some tips if you’re looking to master this art.
Have a Hook
If the first few seconds of your reel aren’t persuading me to watch the rest of it, then you’re not doing it right. A hook is a line of text or a clip that grabs your audience and retains them until the end of the reel at least.
Add Transitions to your Reels
Transitions are always fun! There’s something about jump cuts, a person switching to a new location in an instant, or changing their look, or transforming into the ideal versions of themselves that gives people the illusion of “skipping to the good part”. It’s human nature to want to get to the happy part without having to go slog and struggle. In reality, that’s not the case but Reels make you escape that reality for a few seconds through these transitions. The platforms do have some default transitions in the Effects section, but otherwise, it’s all about getting creative and aligning yourself to the previous shot to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here’s a tutorial for various well-liked transitions on Instagram.
Reel Quality should be Top-Notch
Quality isn’t reserved for long-form videos and movies only. Now that a lot of businesses have moved their operations and marketing to social network spaces like Instagram, it’s necessary to bring quality to these platforms too. Now, we’re not saying you should invest in extravagant DSLRs or Canons, a good smartphone does the trick today. But you can’t go wrong if you’re getting an additional ring light or a smartphone holder or “props” for a neat background aesthetic to make your reel look more professional.
Pick a Viral Audio
Why not give your life some background music! Nearly every week there are new songs trending on the app. You may not know a song on the Billboard Top 40 but if there’s a song trending on TikTok/Reels, there’s no way you’re oblivious to it. It’s very common to click on someone else’s audio and use it instead of using the original song. For one, it’s viewed as engagement, and secondly, when you use their trending audio, your reel gets listed on that page which pushes your reach. Even if your reel is the kind that has you spitting important information, use an audio and turn down its volume if needed. The least it’ll do is keep you on the list.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are important on any platform, but they take have a special place on Instagram. For the sake of relevance and reach, use keywords in your hashtag section. The platform allows for 30, so take what you’re given and use it well. You can always go to your Insights and check how well your hashtags are working and take that information to work on your content.
Stick to your Niche
Don’t try to cover everything under the sun, you’re not an encyclopedia. Create a brand for yourself and stick to it. Stick to your colours, your themes and your tone. Don’t put your feet in two boats, it makes for a haphazard profile and keeps your audience from truly knowing what your brand stands for.
Pick an Enticing Thumbnail
Pick a good cover photo, and make sure you have your text (title) showing up on it, so your audience knows what your video is about before they start watching it. It’s more likely they’ll click on a video when they know what value its content will provide them.
Go beyond Reels
When you’re editing your clips together, use other apps if you have to. Don’t limit yourselves to Reels. Use InShots or Premiere Pro if you want to explore your creative editor side. Use cleaner fonts, design better thumbnails, and give yourself more freedom with transitions. If it takes another software to get better results, use it.
Some Instagram Reel ideas to try out
If you’re stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find your next TikTok/Reel idea, here are some suggestions:
How To’s: Tell your audience how to use your product or in how many different ways they can use it.
Tips & Tricks: Give your viewers some hacks, make their lives easier
Brand Story: Tell them more about how you started, your journey as a brand and what you want to do further. Everyone loves a good story.
Trending Challenges: See what’s trending and try to bring your own flavour to it.
Mini Vlogs: Stitch up a few photos/videos of your day/trip/event and make a small vlog out of it.
Keep Watching: The best way to get more ideas is to keep watching more reels. Not the healthiest suggestion asking you to keep scrolling, but one has to put in the work!