Want to go viral? Tips on how to use Reels to increase business sales

If you’re opening Instagram in 2022, you will no doubt be inundated with Reels, a gold mine for helping you grow your business and following. The short, entertaining videos have a special way of grabbing attention, which can mean plenty of engagement for your brand.

Since Reels debuted two years ago, they’ve become the platform’s fastest growing feature with an audience reach of up to 728.9 million (Hootsuite Q3 Statshot Report 2022). There is continuous growth for SMBs willing to switch into a more Reel-focused social media strategy.

What is a Reel?

Instagram Reels are full-screen vertical videos that can be up to 90 secs long, and supported by an abundance of unique editing tools and an extensive library of audio tracks (featuring all of the latest trending songs and snippets of viral content). On top of sound, Reels can include multiple video clips, filters, captions, interactive backgrounds, stickers and more.

Unlike Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels don’t disappear after 24 hours, and will remain on your feed. As you scroll through your explore page, you’ll discover so much content – from animals and food to travel, beauty, fashion and more – and the more you’re engaging with content, the more familiar you will become with what works and what might not.

How can small businesses jump on Instagram Reels?

How do you use this tool to reach more people, get followers, or spread the word about your products? To help SMBs, we’ve covered everything you need to know to get started.

Making your first Reel

Step 1: Tap the plus icon at the top of the page and select Reel

To access Reels, simply open the Instagram app and head to your profile page. Click the plus sign button on the top right of the screen, select Reel in the bottom right hand corner and hit “Get Started”. You can also access the Reels editor by swiping left to the Instagram camera from your homepage, and selecting Reel from the options along the bottom of the screen.

Step 2: Record or upload your video clip

Instagram Reels gives you two options to create a Reel: either capture footage via the app or upload video footage from your camera roll. If you are capturing footage via the app, videos can be recorded in a series of clips (one at a time), or all at once.

If you set a timer early on, there’s a countdown before the hands-free recording starts. During the recording, you can tap the record button to end a clip, and then tap it again to start a new clip. Then, the ‘Align’ button will appear, allowing you to line up objects from the previous clip before recording your next – helping to create seamless transitions for moments like changing outfits, adding new music, or adding new friends to your Reel.

Step 3: Edit your Reel

Once you’re done recording or uploading videos, you can add stickers, drawings, and text to your Instagram Reel using the icons on the top of the editor. The Instagram Reels editor features built-in creative tools so you can do all your editing from one interface.

Key editing features include:

  • Audio | Select audio from the Instagram music library or import it from your device.
  • Length | Choose to make your video 15, 30, 60, or 90 seconds.
  • Speed | Change the speed of your video by slowing it down to .3x or .5x, or speed it up by choosing 2x, 3x, or 4x.
  • Layout | Adjust the layout and add more than one recording to the frame.
  • Timer | Set a timer that will go off before you start recording and set a time limit for the next clip. This is useful if you want to record hands-free.
  • Dual | Record videos using your front and rear cameras at the same time.
  • Align | Appears after you record your first clip and allows you to line up objects from the previous clip.

Step 4: Adjust your Reel’s settings

When you’re ready, tap ‘Next’ in the bottom right corner of your screen. You will be able to:

  • Edit your Reel cover. You can choose a frame from the video or add an image from your camera roll.
  • Add a caption.
  • Tag people in your Reel.
  • Add a location.
  • Enable Facebook recommendations. If you select this option, your Reel will be surfaced to Facebook users who are likely to enjoy your content (according to Meta’s algorithm). You don’t need a Facebook account to use this feature.
  • Rename your audio. If you add your own audio (e.g. a voice recording) to your Reel, you can give it a name that will show up in other users’ Reels if they decide to use the sound.
  • Enable or disable automatically generated captions.
  • Decide whether you want your Reel to be posted to your Instagram Feed (and not just the Reels tab on your account).

Step 5: Post your Reel

Once you adjust your settings, tap the ‘Share’ button at the bottom of the screen. Congrats! You’ve posted your first Instagram Reel. Now you’ve got the basics mastered, let’s deep dive into some tactics that will help you make this format work even harder for your brand.

Have fun with trending audio

If you scroll through Reels on the regular, you’ll notice that many creators overlay the same audio on videos. The audio is snippets of songs or clips from other creators’ videos, and when they gain popularity, they can help you get more views by adding them to your Reels.

Don’t be too “salesy”

The reality is that users don’t open up social media hoping to see ads. They go to Instagram to explore ideas, connect with others, and get a quick burst of entertainment during breaks in their day. That’s why you need to make sure your Reels help them do just that.

Be sure to create content (yup, this includes Reels) that is actually entertaining to your target audience. Whether that means leaning into a trending dance or creating quick how-to Reels, your aim is to delight, inform, and entertain users rather than sell to them.

Refining Timing

The magic of Reels is in Instagram’s not-so-secret sauce – the algorithm:  the all-knowing matchmaker the platform uses to determine which Reels it shows to which users. Posting content at the right time is one of the biggest – and easiest – ways to garner online success.

One way to identify the best time to post is through trial and error, by posting at various times of the week to discover what content is performing best and where it might be flat.

Once you find prime-time posting, you will then be able to schedule your posts with the highest likelihood for engagement and reach each week. Hootsuite also provides automatic recommendations on the best time to post, taking away the need for manual trial and error – in turn getting quicker results and a higher likelihood of engagement.


Reels are a great way to share quick video updates, but it can be daunting to record and edit a new video every day. If you’re looking for a way to schedule Reels, so you can continue to post fresh content without feeling chained to your phone, there are tools that can help.

Hootsuite’s platform allows users to auto-publish and analyse Instagram Reels alongside other social platforms, making it easier for SMBs to schedule a creative content day and have a backlog of all future posts ready to go. This will save your business time, without losing the opportunity to take advantage of what’s trending, viral and popular that week.


High-level Instagram Reel insights are easy to grab, including video views and likes; however, to dive a little deeper, businesses have the ability to analyse a raft of engagement figures.

You can find further analytics on Reels via Hootsuite, as well as analytics for content posted across all other active social media accounts, making it easier to compare performance across each platform and make adjustments in real time. For those looking to track analytics natively, go to your profile page in the mobile app, then tap the ‘Insights’ button.

However, it’s important to note that insights are only available for those with professional accounts so, if you’re a small business starting out, we recommend switching your profile to a professional one so you have all of the intel you need to continuously grow your business.

Once you have an idea of your analytics, you can put your findings to work. That’s it, you’re now ready to take your Instagram Reel content to the next level. Happy posting!

Anya Slowenko is a Marketing Strategist at Hootsuite.