Allowing brands and creators to drive engagement through creative storytelling and live commerce, there is a lot of potential with incorporating Instagram Reels (IG Reels) into your content and marketing strategies.
And the stats confirm it. Currently, there are over 140 billion Instagram and Facebook Reels that are played on social media every single day.
However, the secret is using them in the right way to capture the attention of the right audience.
How? We’ve got you covered!
This full eCommerce Instagram Reel guide will give you just the right Instagram ideas, tips, and tricks to not only create great Instagram Reels but use them to convert.
Launched in 2021 as a “new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram,” Instagram Reels are Meta’s answer to competing with TikTok videos and YouTube shorts.
Instagram Reels are full-screen vertical videos that are longer in play length. And unlike other Instagram content types, they have their own Reels tab within different content, making them a lot more discoverable. Therefore, they can be accessed by clicking on reels from Stories, Feeds, the Instagram Explore page, or in the Reels tab.
IG Reels can incorporate a host of styles and themes — as you can see by ASOS’s Instagram Reels feed below — and are great for reaching new markets.
This is why so many brands have a lot of success when including them in their marketing and eCommerce ad strategies to drive product discovery — and use the Instagram algorithm to their advantage. Or into their content marketing strategies to grow reach and engagement.
eCommerce Instagram Reel Example
Let’s take an example of an eCommerce Instagram Reel from one of our top merchants, Curl Warehouse. They capitalize on the Meghan Trainor “Made You Look” Reel trend to create a fun how-to that also highlights (and sells) their products.
How Do Reels Work on Instagram?
Instagram Reels allow users to film or upload video clips to the social media platform — where they can then edit, dub sound, take advantage of evolving features, or add effects. These Reel video clips then appear in the dedicated Reels Feed and in the Home and Explore feeds.
Instagram Reels Algorithm
As we already know, Meta favors video content due to engagement potential. And when it comes to Instagram video content, it views reels as the most interactive.
However, there is a lot of mystery and myths surrounding the IG Reels algorithm — so much so that Instagram creator accounts addressed this a lot in their own Reels last year. Here’s one from Laurise McMillian.
Here’s a summary of her Instagram Reels algorithm explanation:
- The more a user engages (likes, shares, and/or comments) with posts, the more posts from that account they are likely to see in their feeds.
- Additionally, Instagram tracks if a user likes similar types of content or content in similar niches — and then shares more such content.
- Instagram tracks how often a user scrolls on the Instagram app and what content it is to determine content preferences.
Therefore, engagement is critical for maximum Instagram Reel exposure.
Instagram Stories vs. Instagram Reels
- Availability. Instagram Stories can be shared as a story, run as an ad, or sent to an inbox — but only shows for 24 hours.
- Sharing. An Instagram Story and a Reel can both be shared through email, DMs (direct messaging), and on other social media platforms.
- Features. IG Reels have much more robust editing options, such as the ability to stitch several clips into a single video and the align tool to create seamless transitions.
- Usage. Instagram Reels are great for generating new leads, while Stories are good for relationship building. Both work well for content — and product — promotion in a well-optimized Instagram marketing strategy.
- Length. Instagram Stories are much shorter, at 15 seconds. Longer videos, therefore, will need to be split into multiple clips that play consecutively. Here’s an example from Propel Fitness Water.
And the benefits of using Instagram Reels marketing?
Now let’s look at the benefits of using Reel on Instagram.
Improved Engagement Metrics
As we briefly mentioned, Meta is pushing video content in a big way.
Because, as we know, they reward engagement, and video is king in this regard. And Reels offer video engagement on steroids. Have a look at the average video view rate on Instagram, by format, from Statista.
Reels are proving to be Instagram’s best content in terms of engagement — with some brands seeing better stats than those on TikTok.
It’s not just account-level content that is getting engagement.
In one Instagram Reel ads case study, Bearbottom Clothing combined Reels with licensed music to increase engagement and conversions — the latter increasing by 19%!
Similar to TikTok videos, IG Reels are super discoverable.
Not only do they appear in multiple places for users to find them, but when they do, they can swipe to infinity watch niche-related videos. This means that niche-related Instagram Reels have a high chance of being discussed by brand-new audiences.
Audiences that you can then retarget to push them further up your eCommerce sales funnel.
Magnified Instagram User Preference
According to Meta, 9 out of 10 users watch videos in their Instagram app weekly — with Reels becoming their fastest-growing feature to date. Take a look at this Google Trend report.
Increased Customer Engagement
Because Instagram Reels are a little more fun, they give brands a chance to show off their human side. This helps you appear more relatable to your potential customers and audiences, while also allowing you to engage directly with your audiences.
Reels don’t have to be fancily produced. In fact, like with TikTok, the more “real” your Reel is, the better. This means you don’t need to spend much of your budget on highly produced content to make a difference.
Here’s an IG Reel example from one of the leading Shopify Plus stores, Allbirds.
As you can see, instead of doing a TV-quality ad, they used self-shot video content to highlight their Christmas campaign for their slipper line.
There are a host of options that brands have when it comes to Instagram Reel content and marketing. Let’s look at the main types businesses use that you can duplicate for your own store.
1. Instagram Reel Ads
Instagram Reel ads are placed in the Reels tab and are delivered to Instagram users in their home screens, explore pages, and feeds.
Like with other Instagram marketing placements and channels, you can create these ads within the Instagram app or Meta business Instagram account as part of your overall eCommerce Facebook ads strategy.
A simple, yet effective Reel ad from one of our top merchants, GearBunch, shows the power of combining your Instagram Reels marketing with influencers and UGC strategies. They recently created an ad based on a reel that an influencer posted about their products.
Tip: Instagram Reel Ad Specs
- Supports ratios between 1.91:1 and 4:5
- Size: 1080 x 1920 pixels
- Video captions optional
- Cover photo: 1080 x 1920 pixels
- Video audio optional (suggest finding royalty-free music)
- Text recommendation is a maximum of 72 characters
2. UGC Reels
Instagram user-generated content is a great way to increase your reel content instead of increasing your reel production. It also has the benefit, of course, of letting your customers and products do the talking while keeping a sense of authenticity.
This isn’t just about re-sharing.
Take a look at this eCommerce Instagram Reel example from Beautiful Disaster. Here they capitalize on the engagement they got from a previous reel — sharing engagement to re-engage.
3. Niche / Product How-To Reels
IG Reels offer an entertaining way for brands to present how-tos. These can be industry or product specific, but ultimately you want to make your potential shoppers’ problems relatable while highlighting a solution they will benefit from.
Here’s a product ad Instagram Reels from Dollar Shave Club, where they use their usual humor to highlight how simple their products are to use, and order.
Another product-specific way you can make an impact with how-tos is by combining the power of UGC from popular accounts. Here’s an example from an online pet store, Wild One.
4. Sneak Peaks and Product Teaser Reels
Another way Instagram Reels can boost marketing reach is with product sneak peeks or teasers.
They don’t even have to be overly elaborate, either! Here’s a clever example from the Happy Socks social team — they highlight multiple sock designs in this reel short.
Alternatively, they can be incorporated into channel placements for your product launch strategies and teasers. Something that the mega online retail store Sephora regularly does with new categories and products.
In fact, if you’re looking for a brand that will give you huge IG Reel inspiration, the Sephora Instagram Reels tab is a great place to start.
5. Value-Adding Niche-Specific Reels
The next type of Instagram Reel idea worth testing is high-value, informative content.
These are videos that help your viewers with niche-related guides, problem-solving, and entertainment, while simultaneously establishing your brand as a valuable authority around niche-related topics. It’s win-win.
And if you can combine these entertaining Instagram Reels tips and highlights with your products without over-selling, they could be compelling. Here’s an awesome example of a brand doing just that.
As you can see, leading apparel brand Beyond Retro offers inspiration for a popular seasonal trend while also solving a problem. They also do so using their own products.
6. Behind-the-Scenes Reels
Don’t underestimate the power of pulling the curtains open to behind-the-scenes aspects of your eCommerce brand. Not only does it make your store, and your teams, relatable, but it adds a sense of trustworthiness to your brand in the eyes of new potential customers.
In short, behind-the-scenes Instagram Reels humanize your business.
Here’s a great example from apparel brand Everlane, who used a behind-the-scenes reel to tell their office dogs’ stories in such a cute way.
How to use Instagram Reels the right way? Instagram Reels have their own camera and editing capabilities and features worth noting. These include anything from being able to include augmented reality effects, transitions, or the ability to speed up or slow down videos.
Here are some of the top Instagram Reel editing abilities, elements, and features worth testing for your content:
- Audio options. Use audio overlays that are attributed to the original account. They are hugely popular on Instagram Reels. Alternatively, you can add original voice-overs or music, or add audio from Instagram’s music library.
- Video effects and filters. Instagram IG Reels offers a wide variety of video effects that are constantly evolving. These include filters, AR, interactive backgrounds, and other elements.
- Share features. Offering more discoverability, brands can share their Reels on their Instagram profile, in their Stories, on the Explore page, or in the Reels tab.
- Captions. Available through the mobile app’s advanced settings, scroll to “Accessibility” and tap “Show Captions” to turn these on or off.
- Multiple clips. Instagram Reels enable creators to pause recording, change frames, and then start recording again. These clips can then be rearranged, removed, or stitched together to make multiple clips.
- Stitchable takes. With IG Reels, eCommerce video creators can either record one long video or stitch together a combination of quicker takes.
- Speed. You can either slow down or speed up your Instagram Reel video clips or audio. This can be in its entirety or in certain sections.
- Timer and countdown. For easier timelapse videos, Instagram Reels includes timers so you can set when to stop and start recording.
- Stickers. Like Instagram Stories, you can add stickers and GIFs to Reels.
The first hack involves streamlining your content creation process by using Instagram Reel templates.
In a nutshell, brands can build template themes to use when creating content. This enables them to just drop different elements into an existing format to create more of the same type of content, quicker.
Templates are especially helpful when repurposing video content from other platforms to ensure it is better adapted to the platform. However, it’s important to note that you need to edit a post within Instagram — even if you are taking content from other platforms.
You can create and use templates either by:
- Repurposing an existing IG Reel
- Or using “Templates” in your IG video editor
To make an impact quickly with Instagram Reels, you will want to stay on top of new features and trends to help boost visibility and discoverability. For instance, at the time of writing this article, trending audio from The Kardashians is big, with 112K posts using it in a matter of weeks.
How to find Instagram Reel trends?
- Follow Instagram Reel trend articles. Later’s weekly roundup is a good place to start
- Spend time on the Instagram Explore page to scroll for trending Reel themes
- Look on other platforms, such as TikTok, for rising trends
Follow Instagram’s Creators account
Pro Tip: Harness the Power of TikTok to Stay Ahead of Reel Trends
We know that TikTok content is huge right now, especially in terms of authentic, trend-driven, short-form videos. In fact, it was TikTok’s style that influenced Meta to launch and upgrade Reels in the first place.
By looking at growing TikTok trends, you can find ones that haven’t hit IG Reels yet that could help your content stand out better on Instagram. And vice versa!
There are a lot of brands that leverage both platforms to feed each with fresh-content Instagram Reels ideas. One such example is Louis Vuitton.
But be sure you remember to avoid including the TikTok watermark on your Instagram Reels marketing and content. Instagram doesn’t prioritize content that is clearly just a copy from other apps.
Yes, creating good Reels content will take time and effort from the get-go.
However, you can offset that time by investing in quality eCommerce ad automation — such as what Traffic Booster offers. You can reap the rewards of high-performing Instagram ads on autopilot while you work on day-to-day Reel content creation.
If you are DIYing for your marketing, following are some Instagram Reel tips to streamline the process.
How to Create Instagram Reels Ads
There are two ways you can use paid marketing to expand your IG Reel reach and engagement:
- Boost your Reels. From the middle of last year, Meta made it possible for brands to boost their Reels (60 seconds or shorter) to increase discoverability.
- Add it to your Instagram marketing portfolio. You can include Reels as ad placement options when creating your campaigns.
The latter can be potent, as we showed in the case study above. However, both these options will require time and effort to balance optimization — even more so if you are busy increasing your Instagram Reels content.
You can create Instagram Reels ads in Meta Ads Manager as you normally would. After choosing your objective (conversions/reach/traffic/brand awareness) as you would for any campaign, you can then either:
- Check “Instagram Reels” as a placement option
- Or select “Automatic Placements” that would then include Reels in your video campaigns
One of the best Instagram Reel hacks you can use is to ensure whatever content you produce is as authentic and “human” as possible. Therefore, your aim should be to keep your Reels fun, personal, and/or authentic.
This can be tricky for brands that are used to being a little formal, but it doesn’t have to be. You can draw inspiration from the kings of fun, the Shopify Plus store Chubbies. Here is how they turned a new brand ambassador announcement into a super fun Reel.
Even if your brand personality is a little more serious, you can still humanize it with some great behind-the-scenes content, such as following owners’ daily rituals or following along on fulfillment and other backend processing.
Yes, you can be authentic and still put your products front and center.
The best way to do this with Instagram Reels is by showcasing your products in action. This means highlighting its features or showing how it solves your target customer’s very specific problem. Alternatively, you can creatively tell the story of how your products are made.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Here’s a great Instagram Reels idea example of highlighting a product creatively, from the folks at Death Wish Coffee.
Another brand killing it with product-related IG Reels is Shopify Plus store Gymshark. Whether it’s an Instagram Reel ad, motivational content, influencer reels, or UGC reshares, every Reel highlights their leisure wear in action.
Don’t just think of influencers — you also want to brands who are killing it with Instagram Reels. Online retail brands like Sephora, Lululemon, and BarkBox have so much Instagram inspiration to offer. Here’s one Reel example from Lush USA with over 127k views and 9k links.
Pro Tip: Want to one-up your closest competitors? Do an eCommerce competitor analysis of their entire Instagram marketing and content plan and take a deep dive into their Reels.
This will help you spot strengths you can duplicate and weaknesses to exploit. You can, of course, get a ton of Instagram Reel ideas by assessing their engagement. (Here is a free competitor analysis template you can use!)
Here’s another example from omni-store brand Alo Yoga that got over 88k views in just seven days.
If you look at their entire Reels feed, you get a sense of their content and what makes this brand successful here. Each video speaks directly to its audience and gets a ton of engagement.
[Source: Alo Yoga Instagram Reel Feed]
Whether you’re building your IG Reels feed from scratch, adding ads to your Instagram marketing, or looking to improve engagement, inspirational and informational content is an excellent place to start.
After all, Instagram Reels is all about engagement. And the more value you can add in a short space of time, the better! This not only helps get eyes on your Reels, but boosts likes and saves while also showing brand-new audiences that you’re an authority in your niche.
Online fitness supplement brand Onnit, for instance, fill their Reels feed with fitness tips, recovery hacks, and fitness experts.
In short, you don’t just want to show your products; you want to own your niche. It’s a balancing act. Something that mega brand Sephora are pros at.
[Source: Sephora Instagram Reel feed]
So, how do you add value? You want to brainstorm Instagram Reels ideas in a similar way you would for your eCommerce blog. This means identifying key pain points your audience may have and creating content that helps them solve them. Or simply creating content that identifies with their struggles in an entertaining way.
Here are some general ideas you can expand on:
- How-to guide
- Instructional videos
- Quick solution spotlight
- Niche-related trend roundups
Like with any social media strategy, UGC can be super powerful. Not just in pushing product sales but growing overall content engagement, and, therefore, reach. This is something that TikTok has particularly dominated in terms of hashtag trends.
Online eyewear store Clearly, for instance, got 20 million TikTok video views with one hashtag challenge (#ClearlyTransform) while simultaneously highlighting a ton of authentic UGC in their feed. But when it comes to Instagram, it’s no different.
Whether you are partnering with a niche-specific influencer or starting a hashtag trend, there are a lot of opportunities to use Instagram to gather UGC. There are also a lot of ways you can then use UGC to drive Reels engagement in the form of social proof.
Pro Tip. You will also want to collect Instagram Reels that you can use for UGC in your brand Instagram account and on other platforms. It doesn’t have to take a ton of work either; UGC collection apps like Flowbox will help you do that on autopilot.
If your aim is to use Instagram Reels to grow overall Instagram account fans — that you can bring into the beginning stages of your sales funnel and then upsell later — then you may want to focus on gaining Explore page visibility.
Having content featured on the Explore page means:
- Increased engagement
- Improved product discovery
- Increased Instagram account and store traffic
This means focusing on:
- Creating consistently good content
- Posting on a regular basis
- Capitalizing on popular trends and hashtags
- Tagging a specific location
All to get more video views. Why? Because Instagram pushes Reels, within a user’s interested topics, that have higher views to Instagram users’ Explore pages.
There are two main types of collaborations you should consider to boost Instagram Reel engagement and reach potential. These are creator and brand collaborations.
The first is pretty obvious — influencer marketing is not new, and when you combine it with very niche-specific content creators, it can be incredibly lucrative. The trick is finding the right influencers. You can do that by following these key steps:
- Define your goals
- Look for micro and macro influencers in your niche
- Evaluate their engagement
- Narrow down your list
You can find out more in our Beginners Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing for Online Store Owners.
The second type of collaboration worth investing in is brand collaboration. This is where you partner with other brands that have cross-over or similar audiences to yours but aren’t in competition with your products.
Think of these as brand endorsements, but with brands instead of celebrities. It can be as simple as posting content on each other’s feeds, or, more involved, creating a giveaway or seasonal campaign.
A good example of an eCommerce brand collaboration is from Denisa Piatti Jewellery and Pico Vela knitwear apparel store. These brands have different products, but they realized they have similar audiences — bold, unique, and expressive women.
Ultimately, this grew into more than just a one-time collaboration, but an ongoing partnership.
The last Instagram Reel tip is to focus more on showing than telling. In other words, you don’t want to be too “salesy” or hard-sell. Even when creating Instagram Reels ads, you want them to blend into the platform seamlessly.
Although Instagram brags that there is no one right way to create an IG Reel, they want creators and brands to focus on creating content that is engagement worthy — as do your audiences.
If you look at all the examples we have highlighted in this post, they all use creative ways to sell or show their product without being too “buy me.”
Here’s another example from one of our top merchants where, with Reels, they stitch together fitness experts working out while wearing their clothes.
And it’s not just Instagram marketing they have a lot of success with. Agogie is currently getting 5X ROAS by using Traffic Booster to run their social media and PPC campaign.
Final Thoughts: Be Consistent
There you have it, all the Instagram tips, hacks, strategies, and examples you need to jump-start Instagram Reels for your brand. To recap how to use Instagram Reels the right way, here are the top strategies we discussed:
Yes, you want to ensure that you aren’t just testing each of these strategies for your specific brand and niche before going all in. The best Instagram Reels marketing strategies should include a wide variety of content types that are posted regularly.
By posting Instagram Reels on a consistent basis, you will be able to take advantage of the improved engagement metrics (using the power of the Instagram Reels algorithm to your advantage) — after which rewarding you with even more reach because you’re using preferred formats.
As you grow your Instagram Reels marketing strategy, you may want to incorporate automation tools such as Traffic Booster (for ads), Sprout Social (for management), and InShot (a Reels editor).
Have questions? Post them in the comments section below.
Nicole is a content writer at StoreYa with over sixteen years experience and flair for storytelling. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she’s not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she’s an avid beachgoer, coffee shop junkie and hangs out on LinkedIn.
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