How to Use Instagram Reels: A Step-by-Step Guide


Instagram Reels lets you create and share TikTok-like videos up to 60 seconds long.

Unlike Instagram Stories, Reels are featured permanently on your Instagram profile and don’t disappear after 24 hours.

Reels shares many of the same features as TikTok, which helps Instagram stay competitive with what is currently the fastest growing social media app.

Unlike TikTok, which is a standalone app, Reels is integrated into the Instagram app you already use.

With Instagram Reels, you can:

  • Create and share 60 second videos.
  • Add your own audio to videos or choose a song from a catalog of licensed music.
  • Grab original audio from other videos and add it to your video.
  • Create reaction videos to other users’ content.

Reels are featured in Instagram’s Explore tab, allowing you to reach a wider audience of people who aren’t already following you.

It is possible to gain significant exposure if your Reel goes viral and becomes “Featured” content in the Explore section.

Learn more about creating and sharing reels.

1. Open the Instagram app and go to Reels

Screenshot from, January 2022.

Open the Instagram app and log in to your account if you’re not already logged in.

Then tap the plus sign button or swipe right from the main feed to access the Instagram camera.

With the Instagram camera open, scroll down to Reels basically.

2. Record a reel with the Instagram camera

instagram reelsScreenshot from, January 2022.

After selecting Reels, you can either start recording immediately or add production quality by selecting one of the following tools:

  • audio: Search for a song in Instagram’s music library or record your own audio.
  • AR effects: Select one of many effects from the effects gallery.
  • Timer and countdown: Set the timer to record clips hands-free.
  • Align: Align objects from your previous clip before recording your next clip.
  • Speed: Speed ​​up or slow down part of the video or audio you have selected.

Record your Reel by long pressing the capture button.

A reel can be saved in a series of clips, all at once, or using video uploads from your camera roll.

You can preview your creation, as well as add stickers, designs, or text before publishing the reel.

Once your reel is complete, you can proceed to the editing screen.

3. Share the reel with your followers

instagram reelsScreenshot from, January 2022.

Faucet Share to then press Blanket to change your cover photo and write a caption.

By default, your reel will be shared on Instagram Explore. Faucet stories at the top if you want to share your reel with your story instead of exploring.

How the Instagram Reels Algorithm Works

Instagram is transparent about how it ranks the content people see when browsing Reels. This preview can help you create more successful clips.

Instagram is pushing Reels as its next flagship feature. Instagram head Adam Mosseri has publicly stated that he wants to go big on video in a bid to directly compete with TikTok.

As Instagram continues to invest in Reels, it keeps users updated on how this section of the app works.

The company has revealed how it chooses the recommended coils for each individual user.

Keep reading to learn how the Instagram algorithm brings up Reels, which is information that can help you create more engaging content for your audience.

Here’s what you need to know.

How Instagram Recommends Reels to Users

The goal of Instagram’s Reels algorithm is to surface content that users will enjoy watching and actively engage with.

In order to determine which reels to show users, Instagram’s algorithm considers the likelihood that an individual:

  • Watch a reel all the way through
  • I like this
  • Say it was entertaining or funny
  • Go to the audio page to make their own Reel

This last point may seem confusing if you are not familiar with Reels or TikTok. This refers to the ability to take an audio track from someone’s video and create your own content with it.

Unless the creator has disabled the feature, each reel has a page where viewers can grab audio and create a new video with the same track.

Creating a reel with a highly shareable audio clip can get you far with the recommendation algorithm, but that’s not the only cue that matters.

Related: How Instagram’s Algorithm Works and IG Content Best Practices

Most Important Coil Algorithm Signals

Instagram says user activity is the most important signal when it comes to recommending Reels.

The algorithm takes into account which reels a user has engaged with in the past and whether they had any direct interaction with the content creator.

This means responding to comments, DMs, and tags can help your content show up more often in users’ feeds.

After that, Instagram looks at information about the video itself and information about the content creator.

The most important signals for the Reels recommendation algorithm are (in order of importance):

  • User activity: including recent engagement with Reels and interactions with content creators.
  • Coil Information: Such as its popularity, audio track, and understanding pixel-based video and whole frames.
  • Creator Information: including who they are and how other users have interacted with them.

Types of Content Instagram Won’t Recommend

There are several types of content that Instagram won’t recommend, regardless of how popular the creator is or how engaging the video is.

Instagram avoids recommending Reels for the following reasons:

  • The video is low resolution and/or watermarked.
  • The video contains political content.
  • The video was made by political or government figures.

If you want to go anywhere with Instagram Reels, aim to produce high-quality, original content. Watermarked videos recycled from other sites will not appear in users’ feeds unless they follow the creator directly.

Finally, keep the topic light and friendly for all audiences.

Keep track of which Reels resonate the most with your followers by noting the number of likes, views, and comments each receives. With a professional or creator account, you have access to even more detailed metrics.

More resources:

Source: @creators on Instagram

Featured Image: Ascannio/Shutterstock


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