Utilizing Reels for Growing Your Small Business Instagram

Personally I think that Reels are THE most important feature on Instagram for growing your following. They have helped my Instagram page for my small business grow SO much (over 87k followers in one year)! In order to utilize Reels to their full potential, It is necessary to understand what they are, how they work and more importantly, how to create them!


A Little Bit of a Background on Instagram Reels: 

If you are new to using Reels, they are short videos (up to 60 seconds) that you can post, and they will show up on your profile grid and in your Reels tab. Unlike posting just photos, Reels gives you the opportunity to be seen by people who are NOT following you. This increases your exposure and gives you a larger opportunity to expand your following. When you are posting just photos, the only people who see those are going to be people who are already following you. When you post Reels, the accounts that follow you will see them, but more importantly, they will show up on other users' feeds who are not following you. 


Secrets About the Reels Algorithm... 

Instagram is picky about which Reels it pushes out for larger audiences to view. There are a few things that we know of that may increase the likelihood for your Reels to do well.

1. User Interaction:

When your audience is engaging with your post, it shows Instagram that “ooo people are enjoying this content, lets expose it to even MORE people”. It becomes a snowball effect, and that's how it's common for Reels to get a ton of views! Comments, likes, shares, views and saves are 5 of the ways that we can see user interaction. You want to create content people are engaging with. 

Examples:

To get comments on your Reels: post videos that ask questions or make your audience curious.

To get shares/saves: I have found that posting videos tailored to helping out others is key. My DIY or How To Reels are my most popular ones and they have a ton of saves and shares! People find a video with valuable information and want to save it for later. This helps them out, but it also helps YOU out by boosting your video and giving you more exposure.

Views (how many times your video has been watched): You can make your Reels up to 60 seconds, but it's better to keep them short and to the point. I usually make mine around 5-20 seconds. The shorter they are, the more times someone is likely to watch it which means views are increased.  

2. Creator interaction

Creator interaction is how YOU are engaging with your Reel. When somebody comments, you always want to reply to every comment if you can, especially when you are just starting out! This goes back to how much engagement you have on your posts. Remember… more engagement, bigger audience, bigger audience, more engagement (snowball effect!)

3. Quality content

Quality content is arguably one of the most important aspects of creating a Reel, BUT there are so many amazing quality Reels that go unseen, so don't be discouraged! It's important to keep your videos aesthetic, uniform and ‘clean’ looking. Humans are naturally drawn to eye pleasing things, so by creating Reels that encourage people to stay and watch could increase engagement, followers and potential buyers.

4. Time of day

Posting at peak time during the day is a great idea for possibly more exposure/views! If you have a business Instagram, you can click on your insights→ followers→ scroll down, and there will be a bar graph displaying the most active times of your followers. Make note of the time where the most people are active and try to schedule your posts around then. Posting your videos in the early morning or super late at night will not get you good results.  

   

Tips on Creating Quality Content:

  1. ALWAYS film your Reels in portrait mode, NEVER landscape!
  2. Use a filter on your videos (you can record directly from Instagram or download apps like VSCO to put filters on already pre recorded videos)
  3. Use trending sounds, or hop on current trends! (This part is hard, since trends are changing so quickly. I usually go on my Reels page and scroll, you can quickly tell what types of videos are currently the most popular. Save these sounds and create your own video!). 
  4. LIGHTING! Make sure you have good lighting when recording your videos. This could be natural or artificial. Invest in ring lights, and have a camera/phone that takes good quality photos/videos. I use my IphoneXR to record all of my Reels & the quality comes out fine! No need to buy a fancy camera. I highly recommend investing in some sort of photo booth! I use the Impact Photo Pro LED Booth 400 and it has been one of THE best purchases I have ever made. It's pretty big (6ft X 4ft), so if you are photographing/videoing smaller objects (like jewelry candles etc.) you can find mini photo studios on amazon for a lot cheaper instead!

What Reels Get the Most Views?

Unfortunately there is no exact method on how to create a viral Reel, a lot of the time it's very random! But now that we know what a Reel is, how it works, and some ways we can improve our chances of being seen, what are the most popular Reels?

I went through my feed and came up with a list of my top 5 most viewed Reels to hopefully give you all some inspiration and ideas that you might want to try:)

  1. Favorite supplies for my small business
  2. How to/DIY videos (ex. How to make a T-shirt, how to take product photos, how to print out shipping labels etc.)
  3. Inspirational/progress videos (where you were vs where you are now)
  4. Trends! (a lot of the trends I did when they were popular got a lot of views, remember to be on the lookout for new and upcoming trends)
  5. Where I get...: (shipping bags, shipping supplies, blanks, boxes, screen prints)

  

Tips I have learned along the way:

As someone who has created 100’s of Reels, it is most definitely a learning process and not all sunshine and rainbows! Below I compiled a list of my favorite things to help make the process a little bit smoother.

1. Batch Content: Reels take TIME. Creators make Reels look so seamless and easy, but the reality is they take anywhere from 15 min-a few hours to make. It's hard to cut out that much time per day working on ONE post. I suggest that you create batch content. This means spending one day per week ONLY recording Reels and taking photos for Instagram. Now you have a ton of content that you can schedule or post throughout the week instead of feeling the pressure to create something new everyday.

2. Reuse Videos: reusing videos is the best advice I can give you. As mentioned above, creating Reels takes time. If you already have videos on hand, you don’t have to worry about refilming anything! I also love this tip, because it's a great way to keep track of your progress. When I take videos, I film them on my Instagram STORY with a filter, save them and then delete it before it posts on my story. This way I now have an aesthetic video with a filter that I can use more than once! I have created a ‘Meg Ann Co. Videos’ album where I store all my videos for easy access.

3. Cross Sharing: I can not stress this enough, you NEED to download Tik Tok and use it to your advantage! It has the same principles as Reels, so by utilizing it, you are now doubling your chances of exposure. Make sure to link your Instagram on your Tik Tok account. I have gained a lot of followers from doing that. Now that you have a Tik Tok and an Instagram account, you can kill two birds with one stone. Cross share your content! If you make a Tik Tok, post it to Reels, if you make a Reel, post it to Tik Tok! Again, this doubles your chances of being seen without taking any more of  your time! You can also share your Reels or Tik Tok to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. 


As we know, there is no method to creating the perfect Reel that will get millions of views, but by understanding the algorithm we can use that information to help us get a little bit closer to that ‘perfect Reel’. Another important thing to remember is to have fun. It can be very frustrating creating Reels when you can’t get the right shot, your media deletes, it wont upload, ect. (been there, done that, not fun). BUT we do have to remember this is all a learning experience, and good or bad, we will always take something away from that experience so we can better ourselves and our knowledge for the next time!  

3 comments

  • Thank you so much Megan. I have been in business since 2005 & you have helped me so much.
    I wanted to ask you, when you show someone how to make a Tshirt, does this hurt your business as far as them buying it from you? I struggle with this, not alot of people can make my particular product and im very protective of it. Cant wait to hear back from you. ~Chelsa (iBOWZ)

    Chelsa
  • Love your shirts who made your business sign?

    Jacqi
  • As a small business owner, I cannot express enough how much this post enlightened me. Love following your journey! Thank you for always sharing.

    Rebecca

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