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Blog Instagram Reels Ideas for Explosive Growth

Instagram Reels Ideas for Explosive Growth

When Instagram introduced Reels in 2020, people around the Internet were quick to dismiss them as a mere afterthought in response to TikTok’s titanic rise in that same period. And honestly, who can blame them? Just listen to this pitch from Instagram:

“Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.”
But as it turned out, Reels proved to be so, so much more than that.
So, we’re gonna cover the importance of Instagram Reels, tips, and best practices before delving into easy and unique Instagram Reels ideas just in case you’re ever stuck. Our present to you for one of those “What should I make a reel about?” days.
Did you know that scheduling Reels is now available through Planable? Sign up here to try it out.

Table of contents

Why are Instagram Reels Important?

Why should you invest the time and resources into creating Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels are a great medium for creating engaging content. Modern audiences are seeking short, to-the-point content. And by showcasing your brand or business through short, bite-sized pieces of content, you’re more likely to tap into a larger pool of people that would not have necessarily sought you out directly in the first place. 
That’s because a (public) Reels video pops up in the Explore tab, distributing your content outside your list of followers. Reels are still relatively new, so you might have a better chance to reach more people because it’s in Instagram’s best interest to encourage people to create content for it.
Secondly, Instagram Reels are just plain fun to create. If that’s not reason enough to jump on the Reels bandwagon, I don’t know what is.
Reels are meant to be fun, not sales-y. Keep this in mind and focus your reels on trending topics and sounds.
People love “hacks” or behind-the-scenes content, so use these if applicable to your business.
Logistically, make sure your video is clear, crisp, and not overly filtered. Showing a face in the first three seconds also helps increase watch rates.
Kayla Koons, Social Media Manager @ Clean Origin
Now, there are a few things you should know before you start creating Reel content. Replicating the latest trending Reels hoping it will boost you to Instagram stardom simply won’t cut it. You first have to take a look under the hood and determine how Instagram Reels works. Yep, I’m talking about the algorithm.
As always, this stuff is not set in stone and is subject to change. But on a fundamental level, in order to determine what Reels to recommend to a user, the Instagram algorithm considers how likely a person is to:
  • Like it
  • Leave positive comments (“Wow, so funny!”)
  • Watch a Reel from start to finish
It works a bit like YouTube, with one notable difference: it also takes into consideration the likelihood of the watcher going to the audio page and making their own reel. That one is taken directly from the TikTok book, there’s no denying it.
Now that we know how the algorithm works on a basic level, let’s move on to tips and best practices.

Instagram Reels Best Practices at a Glance

  • Length: 90 seconds.
  • Format: MP4, .mov.
  • Ratio: 9:16 or 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels or vertically full screen. (same Instagram story size).
  • In-feed ratio: 4:5 or 1080 X 1350 pixels or portrait. 
  • In-feed crop: crop the top 15%, and the bottom 15% off your Reels video.

Tips for Making Engaging IG Reels

Making engaging Instagram Reels is not just about turning your camera on and breaking into dance (are dances still a thing? God I hope they aren’t). Rather, it involves a mixture of originality and optimization. What do I mean about that? Here are some tips to make your reels engaging.

Use music

Just like on TikTok, Reels live and die by the creator’s choice of music. So when you’re “storyboarding” your Reel (you are doing that, right?) make sure to also consider the sound bites.

Closed captions

Many people consume their social content on the go, without sound. Adding closed captions will not only accommodate them, but also people who have hearing difficulties. Remember: the bottom fifth is where captions are displayed, so avoid putting stuff there, like visual elements or CTAs. If captions are not your thing, use on-screen text.
If you are a B2B or B2C brand, you’ll want to make your captions more accessible to international audiences.
You may not be trying to sell products or services to the international market. But about 88% of all Instagram users are outside the U.S. So, you may still catch their attention with a catchy campaign. That means most of your fans may not be native English speakers. So, be sure to capture and blend general global trends in your IG Reel captions along with your target market’s inspirations.
The international audience may not buy a product from you — if you don’t sell in their markets. But their likes, follows, and comments can be powerful social proof to your actual target audience.
The credibility those engagement signals can give you will go a long way in increasing not just your overall engagement rate but also your conversion rate.
Jon Torres, Digital Marketing Consultant & founder of jontorres.com

Include relevant hashtags 

This is quite self-explanatory. Hashtags increase the discoverability of your content, and it helps the platform make the connection between you and creators from your niche.

Tag others 

Social media is 75% sweat, 25% networking. I just came up with that, but it doesn’t make it less true. Networking is an integral part of boosting your social media notoriety, so it’s important to reach out to like-minded creators when relevant.

Publish the Reel on your own feed 

Remember the Instagram feed? The existence of Reels doesn’t make the feed less important. Cross-posting is great to squeeze some extra algo juice out of your Reels.  

Reels transition ideas

Use them at your leisure. Warp effect, voice effect, scan effect, there are so many of them, and they could be the key to making your reels stand out from the crowd.
Use a dedicated social media collaboration tool Such as Planable for scheduling your Instagram Reels. I mean, obviously, right? 
Social media is a lot of grunt work. Creating content is a lot of grunt work. Creating video content, oh god, don’t even get me started on that. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Because social media is also about collaboration, and team members working together to finetune their content until it’s perfect. 
And with Planable, you can do exactly thatcollaborate with your team and clients until the Reel is just perfect. All it takes is leaving some comments and replies in-app, right next to the Reel in question. No need to open other tabs. 
Oh, and just in case you want an extra level of safety, Planable’s multi-level approval system ensures that no piece of content sees the light of day until it’s been approved by the relevant people. 
What about those dreadful social media publishing logistics? No worries, we got you covered here as well. With Planable’s content calendar, you can plan your Instagram Reels campaigns months ahead. All you have to do is drag and drop the Reel to its relevant time slot.
Sign up here to try Planable out. It’s free. For reels! 
Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are some Instagram Reels ideas to get you started.

Easy Instagram Reels Ideas for Beginners

Offer value

Instagram Reels may be the home of wacky shenanigans and meme videos, but that doesn’t mean users are seeking just quick entertainment. You can use the incredible editing tools and effects in Reels to offer value to your audience. Put your own spin on a tutorial video, or showcase a unique talent of yours creatively.

Create saveable content

Valerie Lisitsyna is a social media marketing expert with more than 350,000 followers on Instagram. Her top recommendation for creating the best Instagram Reel? Entice users to hit the “save” button:
“I would recommend creating savable content. This reel from last year that went viral received over 1.2 million likes and 218,000 saves. When people hit the “save” button, it tells Instagram that people like your content and encourages the algorithm to show your posts to more people. The easiest way to do this is by posting content your audience finds useful such as tips, DIYs, or tutorials within your niche.”

Day in the life snippet 

 

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A post shared by Steven Pottenger (@team_pottenger)

People love day-in-the-life type of content, and for a good reason. There’s something comforting in the knowledge that there’s still space on the Internet for content that depicts the sweet, sweet mundanity of everyday life. Day in the life snippets can demonstrate to your audience that, ultimately, you are just a normal person like them. 

Post User-Generated Content 

 

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A post shared by Glossier (@glossier)

Another way to bring your audience closer is by posting content made… by them. With editing and creation tools becoming more and more accessible, UGC can be just as high-quality as the content created by those who do this for a living.  It’s a great way to bring your audience closer, because it shows that you care.

Show new products

 

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A post shared by Tara Stiles @stralayoga (@tarastiles)

If you run a niche Instagram page, chances are you use a lot of products on a regular basis. So why not put them to good use by creating a Reel around them?

Favorites

 

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A post shared by Anna (@theannaedit)

Speaking of products, surely you must have some favorites that your audience would love to see you talk about, right? Yes? Then you know what you have to do.

Dance!

 

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A post shared by Cindy Martinez 👽 (@minzy_officiel)

OK, I was being a little facetious — dances are still a thing on Reels. They’ll never go away. Dances are not for everyone and don’t work every time, but man, when they work, they work

Haul

This is one of my favorite types of content to see on Reels (or everywhere, really), mainly because it often validates my could-use-some-work purchasing habits. Book hauls, video game hauls, poster hauls, vinyl hauls, if it has “hauls” in the title, I’ll probably gobble up that stuff like my life depended on it. Plus, it’s relatively low-hanging fruit as far as content creation is concerned, so don’t let your hard-earned haul go non immortalized in a Reel.

Quick Tip

 

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A post shared by Home Decor Ideas (@sddecor)

Some days, the Internet is just plain boring. Other days, the algorithm gods serve me so much interesting stuff in such a short time span that I feel spiritually connected to that famous Eric Wareheim gif. Quick tips have this effect on me. Those simple tips that made me realize I’ve been doing something wrong all along. And Instagram Reels are perfect for showcasing these things in a straightforward, fun way.

Time Lapse

 

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A post shared by Hippie Tribe 🌸 (@hippie.tribe)

Remember that person who took a selfie every day for 20 years? That project started in 2000, way before the term “selfie” had even entered the vernacular, so you can probably imagine what you can do with everyday technology. Your time-lapse reel doesn’t have to be as existentially-themed as the photographer’s project, of course.

BONUS IG Reels Ideas for Beginners 

Challenge

 

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A post shared by Alisha Pasha (@alishapashaa)

Challenges on social media are as ephemeral as our time on this Earth, so in order for them to work, you must keep an ear to the ground for the latest trends. When done right, they can give your profile a huge boost. 

Funny Reaction Snippets

Reaction videos have been a mainstay of YouTube since, like, forever, so it’s no surprise that they’ve made their way to Reels. All you have to do is find something worth reacting to and then react to it in a funny way. Sounds easy, right?

Commentary Videos with the Green-Screen Effect

Speaking of things that are mainstays of other social media platforms, it looks like commentary videos with green-screen effects have made their way from TikTok to Reels. You’ve probably seen hundreds by now, those videos with people commenting with an image behind them, like an excerpt from a Wikipedia article covering an obscure event or whatever. It’s hard to describe what makes them so appealing — perhaps that weird intersection of DIY energy and professionalism? Whatever the case, they’re pretty cool and you should try them out in a Reel.

Talk about your brand’s story/about your team

You know what else people like? Origin stories. Just ask that billion-dollar company churning out dozens of superhero movies every year. Everything can have a cool origin story if framed adequately, so why shouldn’t you share your story through a Reel?

Show Mistakes/failed results

A wise person on LinkedIn once said that what matters most is the journey, not the destination. I ended up seeing that quote a dozen more times from other people by the end of the day, but that’s beside the point. There’s a lot of value in breaking down your process to see what went wrong.

 

Instagram Reels ideas for businesses

Flashback Fridays

You could say that Flashback Fridays were invented for Instagram Reels’ transition effects. If you don’t feel like creating anything specific for Flashback Fridays, showing a project or something in an earlier stage also works. 

Before and after 

 

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A post shared by 2B DesignBuild (@2bdesignbuild)

As human beings, we are kinda conditioned to take pleasure in progress of any kind, especially when it’s showcased in a creative manner. So, if you have before and after type of pics/videos of a project, make sure to create an engaging Reel around them.

BTS

 

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A post shared by Dragonfly Paperie (@dragonflypaperie)

There is one kind of Instagram reel that always gets a lot of attention and interaction in our profiles, so much that it has actually worked in
different accounts with different target audiences!

This is as simple as sharing a bit, just a tiny bit of the behind-the-scenes of your working process. The key here is to tell a story related to the product or the customer behind that product. For example, I used to work with an Instagram account that belonged to a business that
turned people’s ashes into jewelry. These are called cremation diamonds.

We would record the process of setting the lab on while sharing something beautiful about the person that passed and their relationship with the customer. Even though it might sound sad, for some reason people have loved these kinds of videos.

 Sharon Van Donkelaar, Chief Marketing Officer @ Expandi

Show Glimpses of the Creative Process

 

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A post shared by Jillian Carson (@goldenhourcolor)

Believe it or not, people are actually interested in the nitty-gritty behind what you do. Sometimes, the making of something is more interesting than the final result. Reels are great to show glimpses of your creative process in an entertaining manner.

Product demos

Demos are by definition short, concise, and to the point. You know what else is short, concise, and to the point? You guessed it, Instagram Reels.

Get Influencers Involved 

When everything else fails, there’s nothing wrong with commissioning the talent and experience of an influencer to make your Instagram Reels videos more approachable and natural. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to reach a wider audience.

For Artists

 

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A post shared by Evan Lorenzen (@artandsuchevan)

Gone are the days of the snobby art dealer establishing what’s worth your attention or not. In this era, artists can tap into the power of Instagram Reels to show off their art (and even the making of it), cool transitions, effects and all.

Answer FAQs

 

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A post shared by Dragonfly Paperie (@dragonflypaperie)

Sometimes, an Instagram Reel answering FAQs is all a person might need to realize that you care about your customer. Chiefly because you actually took the time to create an engaging piece of content around them instead of dumping the answers in a blog post. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

Tutorials & Educational Content

Look, I’m not saying you should break all of your written educational content into bite-sized, easily digestible Reels. But your audience will appreciate you doing it at least from time to time.

Reveal best sellers

Do you sell stuff? Perhaps hand-made candles? Cute brooches? Custom-made bookmarks? If the answer is yes, surely some of them sold better than others. Do a Reel about that. Quick content. Let’s go.

BONUS IG Reels Ideas for Businesses

“Day in the life” videos 

If you’re looking for ways to bring people closer to your business, “day in the life” type of content (in this case, Reels) is a very effective way to do so. Take your audience behind the scenes and give them a snippet of what it’s like to work there.

Tutorials & Educational Content

How can businesses stand out in a market more crowded than ever? One viable solution is creating educational content (also includes tutorials). By adopting an educational angle, you not only offer value to your audience but also take one more step towards establishing yourself as an authority in your field.

Instagram Reels Before and After

Has your business been around for a while? If the answer is yes, then there must be some highlights you’re eager to share. Everybody starts from somewhere, so why not put things literally into perspective by creating a Before and After-type of Reel? Show your audience your growth and how far you’ve made it.

 

Instagram Reels ideas for Influencers

Work out together

 

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A post shared by Jillian Michaels (@jillianmichaels)

We live in a world more health-aware than ever before, which brought an explosion in fitness-related content. So, if you have some form of work-out in your routine, you could consider creating some Reels around your hobby. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can keep things simple and stick to something more accessible, such as a challenge related to a certain exercise.

GRWM (get ready with me)

 

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A post shared by Lily Pebbles (@lilypebbles)

About to hit the city or some event? Show your followers your prepping routine. It will bring you closer to your audience because it could genuinely feel like they are hanging out with a friend. Being approachable is key to growth.

12 hours with me

 

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A post shared by Anna (@theannaedit)

Speaking of routines, a trend that has been going on for a while now is “12 hours with me”. It’s basically a montage containing snapshots of a creator’s day. It’s a fun and creative way to take your audience behind the scenes and connect with them on a personal level in the process.

Wanderlust or Travel-Inspiration Videos

After 2 years of being cooped up at home, people are thirsty for travel vlogs and wanderlusty content. If you don’t plan on traveling any time soon and have some travel photos/videos gathering dust in some forgotten folder, you can easily make a Reel around them. Don’t forget to include quaint music and region-specific text captions!

Show your process from start to finish in 15 seconds

 

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A post shared by Elisa (@drellsky.home)

We mentioned tutorials and videos showcasing snippets of your creative process. Now, how about doing exactly that, but from start to finish and in 15 seconds? That requires some editing prowess, but hey, no one said Instagram Reels are easy to make.

BONUS IG Reels Ideas for Influencers

Jump on challenges trends

This one may be a little tricky because it requires spontaneity and closely monitoring whatever’s trending. But catch one at the right moment, and your Reel might see some higher-than-average traction.

Show your workspace

I’m the kind of guy who could spend hours watching the gaming workstations of my favorite YouTubers. There’s something so satisfying about seeing a neat, well-organized workspace, and I don’t think I’m the only one that feels that way (hopefully). You could tap into that same thing by showcasing your workspace through an Instagram Reel. Bonus points for showing before and afters.

Creative Instagram Reels Ideas

What my phone sees vs what my camera sees

Do you have a phone? Do you have a high-definition camera? If both answers are yes, you can create something really cool around this concept. An object or a landmark viewed through the lens of the respective gadget. So easy, so creative!

Lifestyle Around the Product

 

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A post shared by Sweaty Betty (@sweatybetty)

Ideally, the purpose of a product is to change/facilitate some aspect of one’s daily routine. So, if you sell/make a product, a quick 60-second Reel should be enough to show potential buyers how it will change their lives.

Hacks

Do you know a neat way to fold laundry more quickly? Cook a delicious dinner out of random leftovers? Tie your shoelaces with one hand? What better way to show them than by creating a Reel?

POV (point of view)

From my experience, POV type of content usually ranges from random memes to stuff that is genuinely wholesome and comforting. This cool format is a template that you can project anything onto. 

Listicle

Know some cool facts about your industry? Have you been binge-reading articles about spooky houses? Great, why not make a Reel covering your newfound knowledge?

BONUS Creative IG Reels Ideas

Show bloopers

For every entertaining Instagram Reel there are probably 10 bloopers of the creator stuttering or being interrupted midway through by an inquisitive cat. If you’ve kept bloopers around by some chance, that’s a great opportunity for some easy content. And, people love seeing the human side of their favorite creators.
What people think versus what it’s like versus what it actually looks like
I’m an old-ish millennial, so it was pretty surreal seeing this early 2010s, 9GAG trend making its grand return, now in 4k high-fidelity. There is a tonne of misconceptions surrounding basically everything imaginable, and there are surely some related to your situation worth touching in a Reel.

A Virtual Dance Tutorial or Dance-off

Do you find yourself with the sudden urge to break into a spontaneous bout of improvised dancing while filming tutorials? Why not combine them and challenge someone to a dance-off? That’s what the Duet feature is for, after all. Sorry, “Remix”. Same thing really.

Myth Busting

Few things are as satisfying as seeing a common myth meticulously deconstructed. There’s plenty of material to go around for some excellent reels. Maybe you work in social media and want to address the myth that posting at certain hours increases engagement? Anything works here, as long as your Reel is entertaining to watch.

Business evolution

All businesses have their ups and downs. That’s just the nature of things. You can take this concept to the next level by showing your audience the evolution of your business, with all of its bumps, through a Reel. Before and after videos of your office. Graphs. The evolution of your team. Really, anything that could convey the idea that through hard work and dedication, you’ve finally achieved your goals.

Advanced Instagram Reels Ideas

Stop motion reels

While stop-motion animation can be hit or miss for some people, you can’t deny that the tools put forward by Instagram Reels spawn some incredible results, especially for showing progress or evoking the passage of time. So if you are in a business that involves hand-crafted objects or anything of the sort, stop motion reels can be a great way to get some eyeballs on your products. 

Step by step of a niche task

Not all things are popular enough to have benefited from a cornucopia of content created around them. So if you possess a particular talent/skill, or work in a niche field, creating step-by-step Instagram Reel tutorials might be worth the effort.

Share a recipe 

 

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A post shared by chaheti (@rootedinspice)

I’ve legitimately lost count of the number of recipes I found just by scrolling through Reels, from basic stuff to some really out-there recipes, like oven-cooked nachos wrapped in pita bread (don’t judge me). So, yeah, you can do that too. I have one request, tho: please don’t be like those other videos and store your ingredients in normal-sized bowls. I don’t have a million tiny cute bowls to store every ingredient under the sun.

Instagram Reels FAQs

Do Reels increase engagement and followers?

According to Instagram themselves, yes, they can potentially increase engagement and followers. Here’s the thing, though: this doesn’t apply to low-quality videos and content recycled from other platforms, which Instagram has gone out of their way to make less discoverable. If you want Instagram to push your Reels to your target audience, it’s best to create content specifically for this platform instead of recycling TikTok videos.

Do Reels need hashtags?

Instagram reels hashtags are important in the same way as they are for a normal post. They can help your reel reach your desired audience. In simple terms, when you use a hashtag, your video appears on the page dedicated to that hashtag. The more engagement it generates, the longer it will stay on top of the page for that hashtag. So the answer is “Yes”, hashtags for reels are super important.

Are Reels better than posts?

Each content format has its own purpose in the Instagram ecosystem. It all depends on what your goals are. But generally speaking, if creating video content is what you’re after, then yes, Reels is better by virtue of the fact that it’s specifically designed to accommodate this type of content.

Conclusion

And that’s about it for today. We’ve covered what Reels are, their importance, tips, and best practices, and dropped a few nifty examples for good measure. Main takeaway: Instagram Reels are so much more than a mere TikTok clone, and you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, you’re missing out big time. 
Also, before I forget — you can schedule, plan, approve and collaborate on Instagram Reels with Planable. And it’s free so, you know, just register here. See you in the next one.
Marco Giuliani
Marco Giuliani

Content marketer and aspiring YouTuber, in no particular order. Expertise in content writing, SEO, copywriting, and neo-noir graphic novels. Used to run a music webzine in the 2 seconds in the early 2010s when blogs were hot. I tweet very badly on Twitter.

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