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Introducing Instagram Reels: What is it? + How to Use it in 2020

A Guide to Instagram Reels banner

Have you seen the new Reels feature on Instagram?

The Instagram reels feature allows you to create fun-sized 15-second clips on the Instagram app.

Oh, wait!!!! isn’t that like TikTok? Those were my thoughts too when I saw the reels for the first time.

In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about Instagram reels, how to create yours, and how you can use it for your business.

Let us get right on with it.

What is Instagram Reels?

Reels is a brand new feature on Instagram that allows you to record, edit, and post 15-second videos with music.

Instagram describes this feature as a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.

Initially, the reels feature on Instagram was only available in countries like India and Brazil. However, on Aug 5, Instagram rolled out this feature to 51 other countries including the United States.

I’m using Instagram from Nigeria, and I have the Reels feature already (yippee).

Are Instagram Reels not just TikTok?

Now, this is the question on everybody’s mind.

A look a these Instagram reels would tell you one thing – they look a lot like TikTok videos (like a lottt).

Instagram Reels look simpler than TikToks but with less quality and features. But if there is anything to learn from the success of Instagram stories, you can be sure that Instagram Reels will get better with time.

How to create Instagram Reels

Update your app

You will not be able to create Reels unless you update your app. So head over to your app store and do that (I’ll wait).

Are you done? Let’s go.

Tap the camera icon on the top left corner

Tap the camera button as if you want to record an Instagram story.

Instagram feed showing an arrow on the camera icon on the top left corner for Instagram reels

With the new update, you’ll notice some slight changes in the camera section.

The effect buttons are now on the side, while Live, story, and REELS are at the bottom. We want reels, so click on the button that reads reels.

What does this button do?

Now that you are in the Instagram Reels realm, you would find a couple of editing tools that you can play around with. These tools include:


Instagram has a huge collection of songs you can use for your reels. Don’t fancy the songs from Instagram? No biggie. You can use your song or audio by simply recording a video with the song in it. Artists have a chance to reach to promote their new songs with this option.

Other users who like your original song can use it in their videos too as long as your page is not set to private. To use songs from other reels, click on the “use audio” button.


Determine how fast or slow your reel will be with this option.

AR Effects

Instagram has many AR effects that you can choose from. You are likely familiar with some of these effects from Instagram stories.

Timer and Countdown

Set the timer to record any of your clips hands-free. Once you hit record, you’ll see a 3-2-1 countdown, before recording begins for the amount of time you selected.


The align feature appears after you shoot your first clip. It helps you line up objects for seamless transitions when making videos.

Start Recording

Now it’s time to record.

There are three ways to record a reel.

  • You can upload a previously recorded video straight from your gallery or camera roll
  • You can record reels at a stretch
  • You can record them in small bits to make up the 15 seconds

Instagram allows you to continue editing your reels even if you leave the app.

Once you are done creating a reel, you can edit it with stickers, animations, and text that you use when creating stories.

Sharing your Reels

Now its time to let the world see what you have created.

Before sharing you can edit your reel’s cover either by using a thumbnail from the video or by uploading a new picture from your gallery.

Add captions that tell your followers what the Reels is all about. Here is a guide on how to write engaging captions on Instagram. Don’t forget to use hashtags too to garner more reach.

You can share the Reel on your story, feed, or dedicated Reels tab. If you share it in your story, they will disappear after 24 hours just like normal stories do.

The reels will remain in the reels tab but will show on your main feed if you allow.

The Reels tab can be seen on your profile by those who follow you and from others if your account is not set to private.

Not ready to publish your Reels just yet? You can save it in your draft for your eyes only.

How to Interact With Other Instagram Reels

By now, you should know how to record, edit, and publish on Instagram Reels. Here is how you can interact with other reels.

Reels as you already know can appear on the feed. You can identify them thanks to a little box that reads “Watch Reels” on the bottom left corner.

Since not so many people are using this feature now, you will find most of the reels on the explore page.

You’ll notice that a large video tab now dominates the top of the explore page. These videos are reels from other users. And Instagram suggests videos from influencers or from accounts that are similar to the ones you interact with.

Clicking a reel from the explore page will take you to a dedicated page for reels – where you can swipe up or down to view new videos.

You can like, comment, save, and share videos that you find on the explore page.

If the video is using a song that you’ll want to use too, click on the song and then click on the “use this song” button.

Image Credit:

How Brands and Creators Can Use Instagram Reels

If you already use TikTok for your business, then you will feel at home with Instagram reels.

From the look of things, B2C (Business to customers) brands like artists, fashion brands, creators, and restuarants will fare better with Instagram reels than B2B (Business to Business) brands.

You should hop on Reels now before the rest of the world catches on. Here are ways you can use Instagram Reels for your business.

1. Showcase your products

You can show your audience your products using Reels. Get creative. If you own a fashion brand, you can create a quick reel about different outfits.

Since Instagram picks reels to display on the explore page, your business stands a chance of gaining massive brand awareness.

2. Start a hashtag challenge

If there is anything TikTok taught us, it is that everyone loves a happy hashtag challenge. You can do the same with Instagram Reels. Start a fun challenge with a branded hashtag to reach a wider audience.

3. Post Educational Content

You’ve only got 15 seconds, but it is enough time to share quick hacks and tips with your audience.

4. Share Original Songs

This is for artists who want to gain a wider reach for their songs and recordings.

5. Showcase Your Personality

Allow your audience to see the person behind the filters and heavily edited photos. This would help you build stronger connections and a long-lasting community for your brand.


Instagram reels are still new and not so many people have caught on this new feature. You are already way ahead of the curve by reading this article.

While reels might still be rough around the edges, it can prove to be one of the most popular features on Instagram just like Instagram stories. And it surely has abundant potential to be a great marketing tool.

What do you think about Instagram reels? Are you going to be using it?