Creating Instagram Reels - Explained Step by Step

You will learn what Instagram Reels are, how to create them, and which tools can support you in this process.

Table of contents
  1. What are Instagram Reels?
  2. Frequently asked questions about Instagram Reels
  3. Creating Instagram Reels in 6 steps
  4. Can you create Instagram Reels on the PC?
  5. How do Reels go viral?
  6. Where are Reels played out on Instagram?
  7. Can you promote Reels?
  8. Conclusion

„Reels“ are THE trend format on Instagram. The dynamic short videos not only offer numerous creative design possibilities but also the potential to reach an enormous range. How this works is explained in this article.

Firstly, you will gain an insight into the distinguishing features of this format, how it differs from the classic video format „IGTV“ and what constitutes a good Instagram Reel. You will also learn the most important basics for creating Reels and find out which tools and apps assist you with editing.

What are Instagram Reels?

Reels are short entertaining videos, with a length of 15–60 seconds. If you are familiar with TikTok, this video format will seem familiar as Reels are Instagram's counterpart to popular TikToks. Especially in the younger target group, these video formats are popular, which is partly due to the varied content on offer. From everyday tips, dance challenges to funny mishaps, everything is included. Instagram provides a wide selection of music, sounds and effects in the music library for editing videos, which can creatively accompany the content.

Reels are particularly popular not only with Instagram users, but also with creators. This is because they allow a high organic reach to be achieved without having to play out very elaborate content. Later on, you will find out how Instagram Reels really go viral and how you can achieve this high reach yourself.

Frequently asked questions about Instagram Reels

1. What is the difference between Reels and IGTV?

Instagram Reels and IGTVs mainly differ in terms of length and format. While IGTVs can be up to 10 minutes long (up to 60 minutes for verified accounts), Instagram Reels have a maximum duration of 30 seconds. This difference also affects the content. Reels are more for the quick transmission of information and entertainment. IGTVs on the other hand are used for short reports, tutorials or interviews.

The caption does not distinguish between Reels and IGTVs, as in both cases descriptions and hashtags can be added - just like in a normal feed post.

However, these formats differ from the latter in the separate display, as Reels and IGTVs each appear in their own tab in your profile.

Here you will find Reels (left) and IGTVs (right) on an Instagram profile

The function to combine several videos in one video series, which is useful, for example, in the case of related tutorials or interview formats, can only be found with IGTVs.

On the other hand, Instagram Reels are THE rising video format and, due to their preference in the algorithm, can already achieve a much larger reach than IGTVs can.

Update: IGTVs no longer exist in this format on Instagram. Instead, this content format has transitioned into the regular video format.

2. What format do Instagram Reels have?

For your Reels, choose – like with TikToks – the vertical 9:16 format (1080 x 1920 pixels). This way, the entire screen is filled with your Reel. Recently, Reels also appear in full size on the start feed, so that the video can be displayed in full size.

3. How long are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels can be between 15 and 60 seconds long. Before you record a Reel from within the app or add already recorded video sequences, you can, as described above, determine the length of the Reel.

Tip: Since Reels are more about quick entertainment, a length between 15 and 30 seconds is most advisable.

4. What makes a good Reel?

Instagram Reels are particularly loved for their quick entertainment factor. These are also two key points when it comes to good Reels: it should be entertaining and easily understandable. Especially creativity is always well-received on Instagram. If you're not yet brimming with ideas, you can either draw inspiration from other Reels or follow current social media trends. Most of the time this will result in your own ideas and after a short period of time, you'll develop your own style.

The good thing about trend Reels is that a specific sound from the music library is used and the structure and content of the clips resemble the original video. So, if you come across a Reel that you like, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, but you can orient yourself to existing material and save the sound for your later use.

Moreover, some Instagram Reels can also be used as a template, which makes creating your Instagram Reels even easier.

Things like 'Before and After shots' and everyday observations starting with the question 'Do you know that feeling?' always go well. Videos in which something unexpected happens and the viewer is encouraged to stay tuned with the statement 'wait for it' have high view numbers.

If you want to approach the creation of Instagram Reels in a structured way, you can set up a rough plan beforehand and answer the following questions:

  • What do I want to convey in the video?
  • How can I implement it visually?
  • Which music fits the content?
  • Is there a suitable trend for it?
  • Which formats did I want to try out?

A editorial plan can also be helpful for planning your Social Media content to coordinate different content.

5. How important is the video description in a Reel?

Keep your post text short. You could certainly write a long caption under Reels, but it will rarely be read. New Instagram users will most likely come across your video via the Explore page or the Reels-Tab and here only the first line of your text is displayed.

Of course, the text can be expanded and read in its entirety, however, since Instagram Reels are very quick entertainment, hardly anyone will bother to read the whole text. Therefore, bring your description to the point in a short and snappy way, so that it ideally fits in 1-2 lines. If you still want to say something important, you can either place the information directly in the clip or refer in the video to the video description.

Creating Instagram Reels in 6 steps

Step 1: Open your Instagram App and swipe once to the right across the screen, so you enter the editing mode. Here you can, for example, create an Instagram Story or a Reel.


Step 2: Now, you have two options: either you record one or more video sequences directly in the app or upload a clip from your Smartphone's photo gallery. You can access the videos in your library via the square icon in the lower left corner. If you have already edited your Reel videos in advance in an app or on the PC, or want to upload only a single video, you can add it here.


Especially when recording video clips directly in the app, you have various editing options displayed on the edge of the screen:


Reel functions on Instagram:

  • Audio: Choose a suitable sound from the Instagram music library. However, if you're managing a business account, not all sounds are available to you. If you've discovered suitable sounds in Reels or stories from other users and saved them, you can also find them here under your saved songs.
  • Effects: Here you can choose between various filters and animated effects that you probably already know from the stories.
  • Duration: Determine the duration of your video. You can choose between 15, 30 and 60 seconds, although these values only show the maximum. A 24-second Reel, for example, can also be uploaded.
  • Tempo: With the tempo options, you can speed up (.3x, .5x) or slow down (2x, 3x, 4x) your video. The chosen music also changes according to the selected speed.
  • Timer: The timer allows you to automatically start and stop a recording, so you can record Instagram Reels hands-free. You have a timer of 3 and 10 seconds available.
  • Align: Once you have recorded the first video sequence, the align function appears at the very bottom of the bar. Here you can lay the last image of the last sequence over the current recording position.
  • Remix: This function is relatively new. Through it, you can create an Instagram Reel even more easily, since you don't have to come up with your own ideas, but can remix an already existing Reel.
  • Dual: This Reel function is also relatively new and not yet available on every Instagram profile. Through this, you can both record your desired Reel content and film yourself at the same time using the dual camera.
  • Templates: In order for everyone to have the opportunity to create and record Reels, Instagram is offering Reel templates. Some of them are already available in some Instagram accounts. They can be found either through the Reel editing mode or when you scroll through the Reels, some clips will show that you can use them as a template.

Step 3: Once you have chosen your effects and recorded or uploaded the video or video sequences, you can add text to the Reel in the next step. The same options as for captioning stories are available to you.

You can position the text as you like in the picture, while you should make sure that you do not push it too far towards the edges, as it could be overlapped here by other displays (e.g. the Like-Button). Instagram offers guidelines for this, which give you a good feeling when positioning your overlay text.

You can determine the running time of the text by moving the sliders in the lower bar to the desired position.


Step 4: The last step is to describe the video (also known as the caption). You have already received a few tips on this earlier in the article. Here you also have the option to link people and specify a location.


Step 5: In this user interface, you can also determine the title image, that is displayed as the cover for your Instagram Reel in your profile. Either choose a suitable picture extraction from the video clip or upload a picture from your smartphone gallery.

If you want your Reel to be shown not only in the Reel tab of your profile but also posted in the feed, slide the slider to the right. Then you can also crop the title picture so that it looks appropriate in your feed.


Step 6: The last step is then to publish and share the Reel via the button at the bottom in the middle. If you are not yet finished with this step, you can save your Reel as a draft and continue editing later.

Can you create Instagram Reels on the PC?

Kind of. On the PC, you can cut your Instagram Reels in various video editing programs, such as Mojo or Adobe, and also add texts and image overlays. However, for uploading the Reel, you need to switch to the Instagram App, as only photos and post videos for the feed can be published from the PC.

How do Reels go viral?

Whether and when a Reel goes viral is not directly controllable, as the Instagram algorithm is constantly changing and is hard to see through. However, you can follow some tips that can help you achieve more reach. These include suitable hashtags, which you use in the video description. This increases your chance of being displayed on specific topic pages, so that your video can be recommended to a suitable community. Moreover, users can come across your Instagram Reel directly via the hashtag search.

Another important point is the fast transmission of information, Reels live from their short duration, which means: Users want to be entertained or have content communicated quickly and easily. It is therefore important that the first 2-3 seconds convince the viewers and encourage them to continue watching.

If an Instagram Reel does not immediately take off, don't stick your head in the sand. Frequently, Instagram will push Reels again after a few days or even weeks, but this too is initially uncontrollable.

So, in any case, you can achieve the most success with consistency. Try yourself out, test different formats, video lengths, and content. Every Reel gets you a bit more attention for your profile and in this way, you can grow steadily. With certainty, there will also be some among your Reels that will then go viral.

Where are Reels played out on Instagram?

You don't have to look far for Reels, as they can already be found in every tab in the Instagram App:

  • Home page: If the creator has selected 'display in feed' when uploading, the Instagram Reel will also appear on the start page. Here you see Reels of the people you follow.
  • Explore page: Reels are displayed here between static posts that are suggested to you based on your interests. As soon as you click on a Reel, you automatically land in a Reel feed and other Reels are shown as you scroll down.
  • Reels feed: Here you can expect only Instagram Reels that have been adapted to your interests. You can endlessly scroll down and always see new content.
  • Own profile: In your profile you see the Reels either in your feed (if you have selected the corresponding function when uploading) or in your own Reels tab. In this separate tab you also find your saved drafts.

Can you promote Reels?

Since June 2021, it is also possible in Germany to use Reels Ads, Here similar design recommendations apply as for the organic Reels: Portrait format, maximum 60 seconds and use of music or sound. When using music you need to make sure that it is royalty-free music. In addition, 'no facial and camera effects, GIFs or product markings' should be used in Reel Ads.

You can find more information about Reels Ads in the Facebook Help area.

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Instagram Reels are definitely a great opportunity to increase both your reach as well as try out new formats. The quick entertainment value is always at the forefront, but can also be conveyed through content-rich videos. It remains to be seen how the Reel trend will develop in the coming years and what new features will still be released.

Isabelle Günther
Isabelle Günther

Isabelle Günther betreibt seit 2018 ihren Instagram-Account „@isa_goes_green“, mit dem Ziel andere zu einem nachhaltigeren Leben zu inspirieren. Ihr einstiges Hobby ist nach einem Jahr zum Nebenjob geworden und hat ihr auch die Türen zu ihrem jetzigen Job als Social Media Managerin bei Crafting Future geöffnet. Nun engagiert sie sich nicht nur privat, sondern auch in ihrem Berufsalltag für eine nachhaltigere Zukunft.

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