So you’ve seen Reels take over Instagram and you’re wondering what they’re all about and how you can get started. The once photo-centric social media platform chased the viral allure of short-form video and seemingly overnight, the infamous Instagram algorithm that dictates who sees what, prioritised Reels. The subsequent demand on brands, businesses and creators – to shift from creating stunning photos to shooting, editing, exporting and uploading eye-catching videos – left everyone Reeling. Maybe that’s how they came up with the name.
First harnessed by Vine and then more recently and perhaps more virally Tik Tok, short-form videos have taken over Instagram and Facebook. Despite soaring to popularity, Reels are still quite new and Instagram still seems to be prioritising them in their algorithm. In particular, they prioritise new, creative Reels that use their editing tools and filters rather than reposting watermarked Tik Tok videos. For this reason, if you want your brand and content to get in front of more people, it’s time to get started making Reels. So, what is a Reel and how do you make one?
Instagram Reels don’t need to be scary or intimidating, they’re just a short video – Instagram’s version of Tik Tok. You can record a video using Instagram, import a video you’ve recorded on your phone or use a clip you shot with a digital camera. While some Reels may look like they’re just thrown together like it’s the easiest thing in the world, most are very carefully curated, shot and edited.
There are countless trends, viral challenges, remixes and audio clips you can use in your Reels to stake your claim on those billions of eyes glued to Instagram. The best way to discover what’s trending is on the Explore feed for Reels. You can also simply create your own video about whatever you want, the main rule is there are no rules. From a branding perspective, it’s best to keep your Reels aligned with your brand and other content.
In its simplest form, an Instagram Reel can be a video up to 60 seconds long. You can record your video on whatever you’d like – mobile phone, digital camera, action camera – so long as you export the video as an MP4 and a vertical 9:16 aspect ratio is best for viewing on mobile phones. You can also create and edit Instagram Reels in Canva’s video editor.
Canva’s video editor makes it easy to create Instagram Reels. Here’s how to customize a Reel template to make you very own Reel using photos from your Instagram feed.
Once you’ve uploaded your video into Instagram, there are a range of special effects you can add to your video.
Adding captions to your video is more than just a great way to improve the accessibility of your content. If someone is watching your Reel and they can’t have the volume up, having captions could be the difference between them skipping past it immediately, or engaging with it. Here’s how to add captions to your video in Instagram.
Creating multi-scene Reels is super handy for how-to, step-by-step or simply editing together multiple scenes into one video. You can import all the different scenes, record them live in Instagram or combine imported and new videos. Here’s how to edit together multiple scenes in Instagram.
This one’s pretty cool. The align tool lets you magically add or remove someone or something from a video between scenes so it seems to disappear. How? You record the first part of the video then stop. Remove whatever you want to disappear and then you can use the align tool to get yourself back into the perfect position so the second part of your video seamlessly continues on from the first part with the object you removed magically gone.
A trend that continuously resurfaces is combining your own video with someone else’s, usually a viral video. This creates some fun creative possibilities like duets, remixes, and reaction videos. You can do this multiple times to create a harmony of voices, or a cacophony of voices or noises – possibilities abound. Here’s how to remix in Instagram.
Another really cool effect here, the green screen lets you get super creative with the background of your Reel.
So there you have it—some tips, ideas, tools, and templates to help you get started with Instagram Reels. If you need a reminder, here’s a video on how to use Canva to create videos, timeline basics, how to use audio in videos, how to edit videos in Canva, and how to animate your design. Plus, if you are looking for catchy hashtags to help boost your Reels visibility, check out Magic Write's free Instagram hashtag generator. Simply type a prompt and come up with hashtag ideas in seconds.
Why not experiment with some different Reels and explore what trending videos might be relevant to you and your brand. Once you’ve found some that spark some ideas, you can check for more ideas and inspiration by searching Canva’s Instagram Reel templates.