TikTok for Adventure Brands

Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Reels

Are you leveraging Instagram’s new Reels functionality?  This post dives into everything you need to know about Instagram Reels to be able to effectively use this element of the Instagram social media powerhouse channel.  Wondering how Instagram Reels compares to TikTok? Check out our earlier post on TikTok for Adventure Brands.

Quick Look:

  • What are Reels on Instagram?
  • How Instagram Reels Work
  • How Does Instagram’s Reels Algorithm Work?
  • How to Create a Reel
  • Adding Instagram Reels to your Social Media Marketing Plan
  • Conclusion

Instagram Reels – The Results Are In

“Did you know Instagram reaches over 1 billion users each month?”

Not ready to jump into a new TikTok just yet? Instagram Reels are the perfect answer to dipping your toe into this type of media creation.

Learn More About Instagram Reels

What are Reels on Instagram?

Instagram incorporated a new feature in November 2019, called Instagram Reels. We saw this initiative from Instagram shortly after TikTok (check-out our TikTok for Adventure Brands Blog) became a major hit worldwide. The Instagram Reel (Up to 60-second video/images) is very similar to their competition, TikTok, in which users can make 15-second, 30-second, or 3-minute video features, multi-clip snaps with varying effects, music, sounds, and a variety of image options.

Instagram Reels Create New Engagement

“NFL teams’ Reels generate 67% more engagement than their regular video posts. The Patriots have the highest engagement with their Reels. They see an average 121,800 engagements per Reel, compared to 21,600 engagements per video.”


How Instagram Reels Work

From where they can be placed on your Instagram account to their length allowed, let’s break down the components of Instagram Reels.

  • Where can you display Reels?
    • You can post your Instagram Reel to your adventure brand’s main grid, on your Reels feed, and you have the ability to share Reels on Stories.
  • What type of media can you use in Reels?
    • You can upload both images and videos to make a Reel.
  • How long can Reels be?
      • You can choose to create either a 15 or 30-second Reel. These time options allow the creator different types of content for viewers. Different audio (15 second audio or less for example) for a Reel may determine the length of the Reel.
  • What are the editing options for Reels?
    • Editing refers to the ways you can literally edit your Instagram Reel. From slowing down the audio and video to speeding up the video or image, and “stitching,” videos or photos together.
  • Can you add audio to Reels?
    • You are able to add audio from Instagram’s Music Library or your own Original Audio. Keep in mind that business accounts will not have the option to use all of Instagram’s Music Library for certain audio. This is because the music or audio is not the businesses owned audio, hence the Original Audio option.
  • Can you save a Reel as a draft?:
    • You are able to save your Instagram Reel to publish at a later date, similar to Instagram posts. This draft is saved in Reel drafts, but keep in mind that this draft will be lost if you log out of your adventure brand’s Instagram account.
  • Can you add a caption to Reels?
    • Like Instagram Posts, you are able to add a Caption to your Instagram Reel. This includes text, emojis, hashtags, and mentions of other accounts.
  • Can You Add Gifs & Stickers to Reels?
    • You are able to add GIFs and Stickers (similar to Instagram Stories options) to your Instagram Reel.
Let’s break this down even further…
Instagram Reel SearchWhere To Locate Reels:

Reels can be seen in the “magnifying symbol”, called the Search button, alongside other Instagram posts, called the “Explore” view. Reels can be identified, in the search, with a Reel Tab icon in the lower-left corner. You will see the Reel playing (if it is in video form) without sound.

Instagram Reels Tab

Instagram also added an Explore feature where you can easily view Reels without searching, based on Instagram’s algorithm (read on to learn more about this!). This is called the “Reels Tab”. It’s the same Reel icon that can be seen on Reels while using the “magnifying symbol” feature and is located in the middle of your Instagram bottom bar.

Instagram Reels

When your adventure brand creates a Reel, the Reel will remain visible on your profile in the Reels Grid. All Reels that your brand creates will be stored in the Reels Grid. You have the option to share on your Feed too, or just the Reels Grid. Also, Reels will show up in your standard grid too. This is a huge benefit of Reels: that they show up in a lot more places, thus offering more opportunities for people to see and engage. Either way, your adventure brand Reel will be shown in the Explore option for other followers and potential followers to view.

How Does Instagram’s Reels Algorithm Work?

Knowing how to hack the Instagram Reels algorithm can be a huge advantage for anyone looking to grow on Instagram. According to Instagram, brands and creators should create Reels that are fun for the viewer, will inspire the viewer, and use creative features such as filters, voiceovers, or stickers. If your Instagram is not following these guidelines, these types of Reels will be de-prioritized — meaning they’ll be less likely to appear on the Explore Page and Instagram Reels tab, thus your adventure brand could miss the mark.

Similar to TikTok algorithms, discussed in our How To Use TikTok For Adventure Brands, Instagram has its own way too.

According to Instagram, there are four key factors that influence the algorithm within your Feed:

  1. Information about the Post – When was this post posted? How many people have liked this post? If this post is a video, how long is the video? Are there locations attached to the post?
  2. Information about who posted the Post – Instagram likes to tailor posts for your liking, meaning interactions with a specific person may bring you more of the same content from other accounts.
  3. Your Activity – How many posts you have liked, your adventure brand general activity on Instagram; likes, comments, shares, etc.
  4. History of Interactions – Have you commented on each other’s posts? Do you like the poster’s post? How often do you comment or like those accounts’ posts?

With Reels, similar to the Explore algorithm, Instagram will serve up Reels that they think will entertain your adventure brand. The algorithm is created by surveying people to see if they find a particular Reel entertaining, keeping small creators in mind so you aren’t left in the dark, even if you don’t have a huge following. Specifically, the Reels algorithm makes predictions: did viewers watch the entire Reel through, did viewers like or comment on the Reel, and did viewers visit the audio page used with that specific Reel? These components will generate other Reels that Instagram feels users will like to see in the future. So, it’s important to create engaging Reels that keep the viewer’s attention.

Once Instagram tallies this information, they start making their own predictions. These are “educated guesses at how likely you are to interact with a post in different ways.”

How to Create a Reel?

So how does your adventure brand use this feature on Instagram? When should my brand post a Reel, opposed to uploading a video to the Feed?

Think of using a Reel, as opposed to just uploading a video to your Feed, as a way to gain a new audience. A high-performing Reel can gain traction quickly, attracting new followers to your brand, bringing them to your business profile. If you are going to post a Reel, make sure your content is attention-grabbing. Viewers are looking for entertaining, educational, or a mix of both, and they’re attracted to authentic content over content that looks scripted or formal. Instagram Reels is just another way to build your adventure brand community that much more! Sharing original creations, or user-generated content to your brand’s audience.

Some ways to consider creating Reels for your adventure brand:

  • Creating authentic entertaining content
  • Educational Purposes
  • Authentically Promoting Products or Campaigns

Let’s go further on what are the fundamentals of a “good Reel?” Similar to what the Instagram algorithm deems as a fundamental well-performing Reel, your Reel needs to be first and foremost entertaining. This can be engaging content, specific audio, fun imagery, videos, or hopping on a trend. Below, we have some examples of well-performing Reels and how you can use Reels for your adventure brand’s benefit. The adventure brand community is already hitting the ground running with Instagram Reels. As we highlighted above, the NFL has seen 67% more engagement on Instagram Reels than any other feature on the platform.

Creating Authentic Entertaining Content

Brighton Resort uses Instagram Reels for a sneak-peek of their first snow of the season. This is a great example of organic, authentic content this adventure brand uses to highlight one of their high-speed lifts and also the fresh snow that so many customers are excited to see.

Creating this authentic content, and posting as a Reel can create views from not only your followers (who may be the only ones to see this video if posted as a Post on their Feed), but also viewers that are scrolling through the Explore Reel’s option.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Patagonia (@patagonia)

Patagonia also showcases their gear on a skier in fresh powder. Not only is this a fun Reel for users to like, comment, and share, but also it gives potential customers a reason to look into this brand for their winter sports needs.

When it comes to creating authentic content on Instagram Reels, adventure brands can really show off with high-engaging content that showcases their branding, product, and voice.

Using Reels to Share Educational Tips and Announce New Campaigns
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Patagonia (@patagonia)

Patagonia takes a fun spin on educational content by sharing Reels that involve sharing personal stories about specific activities. Specifically, this Reel is showcasing their employee’s relationships with climbing, and what that means to each person.

This can also be a great opportunity to share tips and tricks for that specific topic, goals, achievements, and so much more!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Glacier National Park (@glaciernps)

Glacier National Park showcases their #ScienceFriday campaign on Reels first, almost as a teaser for their upcoming campaign. This is a great way to add a potential new audience to their existing following. Instagram Reels are so different from Posts or Stories because audiences are scrolling through Reels independent of following specific channels.

Authentically Promoting Products or Campaigns
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Arc'teryx (@arcteryx)

Arcteryx showcases how a Reel can be interactive but also a platform to share its new products.

Reels make shopping that much easier – notice the “View Product” icon on the Reel, this action leads you right to that specific product. What better way to increase sales and traffic to your website than from your Instagram channel?!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Blundstone USA (@blundstoneusa)

Blundstone USA unveils their new vegan boots, also adding this Reel to their Feed, where both customers on the Explore feature and their daily feed can view the new product.

When adding a Reel to both your Feed and the Reel section of your adventure brand’s Instagram profile, you can guarantee that you will not only showcase your product to your followers but potentially new customers that have not discovered your brand yet.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Blundstone USA (@blundstoneusa)

Blundstone USA uses trending audio to gain traction on its product and brand. Again, Instagram Audios can be saved to your Archives (along with stories and posts) and this is another great way to gain new eyes on a Reel. Viewers can search Reels strictly on the audio trend, making it that much easier to get views on your Reel.

Instagram Users and Product and Services Research 

“81% of users use Instagram to research products and services, and 50% of people have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service.”

Remember, viewing Reels for trends that pop up in your industry – once you view more Reels and see the patterns of what make a Reel popular you will feel more confident making them for your brand. You are more than likely not going viral the first time you try, but consistency is key with this Instagram feature. Just get out there and make the content you love!

Source: Hootsuite

Adding Instagram Reels to your Social Media Marketing Plan

So how do I implement Instagram Reels into my adventure brands marketing plan?

We already see adventure brands taking advantage of Instagram Reels; growing audience engagement, more brand awareness, and the potential to go viral.

Working Instagram Reels into your social media marketing plan does not have a guideline to necessarily go by, but we can work with the measurements of success that we know to be true.

As seen above, similar to Instagram Insights for Posts and Stories, Instagram also gives you Insights on your Reels.

  • How Can You Measure Success of an Instagram Reel:
    • Comments: How many comments are on the Instagram Reel.
    • Likes: How many users have liked your Instagram Reel.
    • Saves: The number of times your Instagram Reel was bookmarked (saved for viewing later).
    • Reach: How many Instagram users saw your Reel at least once.
    • Plays: The number of times your Instagram Reel was played. Keep in mind that this number could be higher than the Reach metric because some users watch the same Reel more than once.
    • Shares: The number of times your Instagram Reel was shared with another user.
  • In Order to Measure Success of Reels, Test Different Reel Types to Increase Engagement:
    • Test different Reel styles: Filters, stickers, visual styles, effects, etc.
    • Test different Reel lengths: Instagram offers 15 – 30 second Reels.
    • Test different Audio: Instagram Reels offers some music options for business accounts, but using Original Audio and voiceovers is the main option for Instagram Reels. This is because business accounts cannot use authentic audio that an artist owns, hence the Original Audio option.
    • Test different times of days to post. Like regular Posts, timing is key. Using Instagram Insights will show your adventure brand what time your users are active on Instagram.
  • Measuring A Successful Reel:
    • While there are not a clear indication of “how many views is good,” on Instagram Reels, staying consistent on this feature can gain more audience traction. Testing different renditions of Instagram Reels can show your adventure brand what your audience is interested in. Essentially, your adventure brand would measure success against your other marketing channels.
      • What is your engagement in this placement compared to other social placements & channels?
      • How many drives to the website are coming from Reels?
      • What is your viewership compared to other placements?

Think of Instagram Reels as a way to not just promote products, but educate your audience on more in-depth information that may be a Story or Post could not.

Conclusion – Let’s Create Great Reels that Serve Your Audiences!

Reels can be a great feature to add new customers to your adventure brand’s following.

Again, Reels invites you to create fun videos to share with your adventure brands following and also potential customers on Instagram. Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community through a new space in Explore. Reels in Explore offers anyone the chance to become a creator on Instagram and reach new audiences on a global stage.

Social media platforms and tools are changing all the time. Staying up to date on these trends can really give your brand a competitive advantage – so check back often to our Resources Page. We love to investigate and assess what’s new, with a special focus on how to leverage these to help drive your adventure brand’s success.

Want more tips specific to adventure companies during this period of disruption?

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