My Instagram was far from an overnight success – I’ve been trying to grow @jaceywest since 2015. Despite my love for photography, I couldn’t break past the 1,000 followers mark for years.
When the pandemic hit, I decided to try my hand at TikTok and that’s when I fell in love with creating short-form video content. I started creating and sharing a ton of videos, some of which went viral, and others…not so much. Through it all, I learned a lot about what makes a good video.
In fact, I gained over 130,000+ followers just because of Instagram Reels!
In this blog post, I will share some videography basics, tips and tricks on immediately improving your Reels. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, freelancer, or influencer, these tips can help you go viral on Instagram Reels and improve your overall content creation game!
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9 Ways To Immediately Improve Your Instagram Reels
There are certain fundamental skills that are essential to creating compelling, high-quality video content.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to learn some of these skills through hands-on experience while collaborating with a videographer at my previous job. Other skills, I learned through research and a lot of trial and error.
Here are some actionable tips to help you enhance the quality of your Reels and create captivating content.
Clean your lens
None of my other tips in this post will matter if you don’t clean your camera/phone lens.
A dirty lens can result in blurry or distorted footage, which can ruin an otherwise great video. Taking a few extra seconds to clean the lens on your shirt can make all the difference in the world!
Change your camera settings
Open your phone camera right now and check your camera settings. If you want your video to have a high-quality, professional look and feel, film in 4K and 60 fps (frames per second).
Shooting in 4K allows you to capture more detail and provides better resolution, while 60 fps makes your video look smoother and more cinematic.
But filming in 4K and 60 fps is just the first step. After filming, you need to make sure you edit and export your video properly.
Edit outside of Instagram
If you want your videos to look more professional, don’t rely on Instagram’s built-in editing tools. Instead, try downloading an app like Splice or CapCut for more control over your editing.
With Splice, you can easily export your video at 1080p to upload to Instagram. If you upload a video in 4K resolution to your Instagram grid, the app will automatically compress it down and make it blurry.
Plus, editing in a third-party app like Splice or CapCut, makes it easier to cross-post (share your videos on multiple apps).
Update your Instagram settings
Did you know there’s a setting on Instagram that lets you upload high-quality videos? It’s true! Just go to “Settings” > “Account” > “Data Usage” and turn on “Upload at Highest Quality.”
Make your videos accessible to everyone
When creating content for social media, it’s important to keep in mind that not all users consume content in the same way. In fact, according to recent statistics, over 80% of Instagram users watch content with the sound off.
This means that captions have become essential for engagement and accessibility! By including captions, you’re not only making your content accessible to a wider audience, but you’re also giving viewers the option to understand your message even when they can’t play audio.
In addition to captions, it’s important to use legible fonts that are easy to read. This is particularly important for users who may have visual impairments or difficulties reading smaller fonts.
By using clear and legible fonts, you can ensure that your content is accessible to as many people as possible. When choosing a font, consider factors such as size, style, and color contrast. A font that is too small or blends in with the background can make it difficult for some users to read the text.
Use a low trending sound
I’m constantly testing theories and experimenting with Reels. Lately, I’ve been using trending sounds with less than 10,000 videos and it has been working well! With less people using a trending sound, my video has a better chance of gaining traction as the sound gets used more.
Not sure what a trending sound looks like? Look for the little arrow next to the sound name in the bottom left-hand corner of a Reel! ↗️
Create scroll-stopping content with a hook
A hook is one of the most essential elements of a video as it can make or break the viewer’s interest in your content. It’s crucial to grab your audience’s attention within the first few seconds of your video, as this is when they decide whether or not to keep watching. A good hook can be achieved in many different ways, depending on the type of content you’re creating.
One way to hook your audience is to ask them a question. This can be a rhetorical question, a multiple-choice question, or a direct question that engages them in a conversation. For example, in this video, I asked my audience if they knew how to pack a hiking backpack.
Another way to hook your audience is to make a promise. This can be a promise of value, entertainment, or information that you will deliver in the video. For example, this video promised to teach my audience tips for hiking in hot weather.
Visual hooks can also be very effective! These can include stunning images, unusual camera angles, bright-colored clothing, or dramatic footage that immediately captures the viewer’s attention. Here’s an example of a visual hook with a unique point-of-view.
Go easy on the hashtags
Using hashtags on Instagram is a great way to increase the reach of your posts and attract new followers who are interested in the content you are sharing. However, when it comes to hashtags, less is more.
In fact, Instagram recommends only 2-3 hashtags per post, so choose wisely! Here’s how I recommend you select your three hashtags:
- Use one hashtag that’s directly related to the content of your post, such as a hashtag for the location, activity, or product you’re showcasing.
- Use another hashtag that targets your ideal audience, such as a hashtag related to a specific interest or lifestyle.
- Finally, use a third hashtag in your niche that can help connect you with other creators in your field and increase the visibility of your posts within that community.
Here’s an example of how I use hashtags.
Add keywords to your caption
Adding relevant keywords to your Instagram caption is important because it can help your content appear in search results when users seek specific topics or interests.
When choosing your keywords, consider the topics and themes most relevant to your content and your target audience. You can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Instagram’s search bar to find popular and relevant keywords for your niche.
For example, by using the keywords “car camping” and “summer camping” in the caption of this Reel, I made it easier for people who are interested in those topics to discover my post.
It’s worth noting that while adding relevant keywords can help with search-ability, it’s also essential to ensure that your captions are still engaging and add value to your audience. Simply adding a list of keywords without context or substance is not the way to go.
Final Thoughts On Improving Your Instagram Reels
Remember: social media is supposed to be FUN. Reels are all about experimentation and finding what works for you and your brand. Don’t be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of what you think is possible!
Start by implementing the tips I shared above and just start filming. Stop wasting time looking for video inspiration on the apps – do what you love to do and just start filming. Not sure where to start? Go outside. I’m always more creative after time spent in nature. 🏼
I have lots more video creation knowledge to share, so let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!