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A Beginner’s Guide To Instagram for Businesses: Part 3 – Stories and Reels

A Beginner's Guide to Instagram for Businesses (2)

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Welcome back! This is part 3 of our Instagram for Businesses series, and in this article we’ll be sharing our pro tips for killer Instagram stories and reels.

If you’ve missed the last two articles in our series, you can find them below. We’ll also link to later articles in the series as they become available. 

Last week we spoke about creating content, but we mostly focused on creating content for the feed – the main part of Instagram. However, Instagram offers other forms of content too, and many businesses neglect the possible impact they could have by embracing reels and stories!

So What are Reels and Stories?

Reels are short 15 or 30 second video clips that you can edit and animate. They were created just as TikTok was becoming popular, and they’re very similar in format to a TikTok post, but shorter. 

Instagram is another channel that has realised the value and impact of video, especially with younger generations. Video has more potential to capture attention and engage with the viewer!

Instagram stories are very similar, they’re content in either image or video format, that disappear after 24 hours. Much like Snapchats. They’re a great way of making announcements and they appear at the top of the main feed.

How Can Stories and Reels Make an impact?

As we mentioned above, it’s becoming increasingly apparent to marketers that video is the way forward. Platforms like Youtube, TikTok and Snapchat have experienced exponential growth over the last few years, with more creators than ever before racking up millions of views. 

Videos allow a more in-depth and personal look at the people and personality behind an account. In simple terms of human psychology, we feel more connected when it feels like someone is talking directly to us, or that we are there experiencing something, rather than just looking at a flat image.

That’s why so many brands are also starting to see the impact of video. 

It’s not just trendy shops either, there are plenty of ways you can utilise video content for your brand, no matter what industry or demographic you’re in.

How to Get Started With Stories and Reels

How to Create an Instagram Story

To make your first story, simply open the Instagram app and tap the + button in the top right hand corner of your homepage. Then, at the bottom of the page, swipe to ‘Story’.

Hold down the circle button at the bottom of the page to film, or tap it to take a photo. Alternatively, click the image in the bottom left to choose a pre-made piece of content from your gallery.

How to Create an Instagram Reel

As above, open the Instagram app and tap the + button in the top right. At the bottom of the page, swipe to ‘Reel’.

First, use the buttons on the left to choose either 15 second or 30 second length.

When you’re ready to film, hold down the centre circle button. You can film short snippets and bring them all together into one reel, so this is a good opportunity to get creative.

You can also import and edit video from your gallery by tapping the button in the bottom left.

Creative Tips for Instagram Reels and Stories

Once you’ve had a good practice with the basics (don’t worry, everyone’s first few are a bit of a mess!), you can start to get a bit more creative!

Try out some of the tips below to take your content from ametuer to professional in just a few edits! These are the inside secrets and tips that content creators with huge followings use:

Pro Tips for Instagram Stories

Create Collages In-App

If you’re on Android, take screenshots of the images you’d like to use in a collage and crop them to the right size as you take them.

First create a background for your collage by taking a photo of a flat colour, or loading in a background image from your gallery. Next tap on the screen to open the text creator, tap again, and hold down. 

You’ll be prompted with the ‘Clipboard’ pop up, from here you can choose a recent screenshot and insert it into your story. Adjust the placement and size, and add as many images from your clipboard as you like to make a gorgeous collage!

Layer with stickers and text to bring everything together.

Add Music to Your Content

Want to add music to your video content? Simply tap the sticker icon at the top of the screen and select ‘music’.

If you can’t see this don’t worry, the feature is pretty slow to roll out. There are a few workarounds however!

First, try looking at another creator’s reel who is using music you’d like to use. There should be an option to click on the track name, and from there you can create using that track. 

Alternatively, use another app to add music. If you have access to something copyright free, use a video editing app to layer music in before adding it to Instagram. 

You can also use TikTok content with music, and share it directly to your Instagram stories.

Encourage Interaction On Your Stories

Make full use of the various stickers available on stories. There are polls, questions, quizzes, sliders and countdowns! 

Don’t forget you can also see responses to questions you ask and reply to them, so it’s a great way to host a Q&A.

Enhance Your Layouts and Content with Apps

You can create outside of Instagram and import content in, giving you a lot more options to be creative!

For example, DCSO (on VCSO App!) will allow you to create a stop motion style video, Unfold gives you plenty of pre-made story templates you can simply drag and drop your images into, and Canva has some wonderful templates for graphics!

Save Brand Assets in Your Gallery for a Professional Look

Keep brand assets such as a transparent background image of your logo, background graphics and icons in your phone’s gallery. This way you can layer them into your stories when you’re making collages. 

You can even use external apps to create on-brand borders or frames for your video content.

Use Creative Filters to Make Your Video Content More Aesthetic

Head to the account profile pages of your favourite creators and see if they have a tab on their feed, that looks like a smiley face with sparkles – that’s their custom filters!

Some creators have made and uploaded their own custom filters to Instagram, and they’re free for anyone to download and use.

Choose a creator who uses similar colours and themes as your brand. It can help all of your content to look more succinct.

Pro Tips for Instagram Reels

Use Premade Content and Edit it Outside of Instagram

Instagram has some great editing features on Reels, but it can also be quite limiting. Edit your videos with filters, trim your clips, add effects and transitions within an outside video editing app, then add the final touches within Instagram.

Hop on Trends as Quickly as You Can

Creating a piece of content in response to a trend can quickly help your content go viral – just consider the Tortilla Hack as an example!

To monitor for trends, use both Instagram and TikTok (trends often overlap) and follow all the major influencers in your industry. 

It can seem like a cop out to jump on the bandwagon, but be creative and put your own spin on things and your followers will love it.

Add Calls to Action

What good is 100k views if those people who engaged never interact with your brand again? If you’re speaking in your reel or adding a voiceover, don’t forget to ask watchers to give your account a follow, or incite them to head over to your website for a freebie, discount or some added value content!

Capitalise on a Viral Post

Is one of your reels doing really well? It’s time to jump to action! Create more reels content that is similar in theme to what’s just recently done well. 

This will work as viewers who are interested in the last successful reel you created will likely be viewing your account to see if you offer any other content that would be useful or interesting to them. This may also determine whether they follow you or not!

If you’ve just made a reel with 5 tips for Instagram for example, promptly follow up with a part 2. Likewise if you’ve just shared an amazing recipe using pasta, follow it up with another great pasta recipe.

You get the idea. Build that loyalty!

Well that’s just about all we have to say on the subject of Stories and Reels in this post. If you found this article useful, don’t forget to subscribe to our Digital Marketing Mailing List, it’s just full of carefully curated tips that are designed for small businesses. You can sign up here:

If you do you’ll also be notified when the next post in this series is out, so don’t miss out!

All of our Digital Marketing Apprentices are taught the ins and outs of social media management and growth, so if you think a member of your team could benefit from joining the program, or you’re interested in hiring a dedicated digital marketing apprentice, let us know!

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