Reels round-up: What I learned from 31 days of posting video clips to Instagram
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that, for the month of July, my Reels output was OFF THE SCALE.
Earlier in the summer, I decided to set myself a little challenge. I wanted to find out if posting more Reels to my account would result in more engagement and more followers.
In June, I committed to posting between two to three Reels every week (backed up by several static posts, of course). I saw a noticeable uplift in my stats; it was one of the best months ever in terms of how frequently people were interacting with my content.
So, to ramp things up a notch, I decided to go full throttle in July – and post one Reel every single day, for 31 days straight.
Here’s a short summary of how this approach impacted my account, and what the results will mean for my future social media strategy!
(If you’d prefer to listen to me speak rather than read this blog, check out the video I recently posted to Instagram.)
What are Reels?
If you’re new to Instagram, this is for you. The platform gives you the opportunity to upload short form videos to your account, otherwise known as Reels. They tend to be between 15 and 30 seconds long, although Instagram is currently giving some accounts the chance to record content that lasts for up to 60 seconds.
In a similar way to TikTok, you can get creative with your Reels by adding background audio, and lip synching over songs or voiceovers from Instagram’s music library.
Fast, easily editable video content is the order of the day at the moment as far as social media is concerned – so it’s unsurprising that pretty much everyone is jumping on the Reels trend. Having only been released last summer, it’s still a relatively new feature, but it’s still gaining traction with its trend-hungry audience.
I’m no expert in Reels.
I’m still learning the best practices, which is partly why I decided to try this one-Reel-per-day experiment. And, as we know with social media as a whole, the goalposts are moving daily, which is why it’s so tricky to keep up to speed with what kind of content we should be posting and when!
Also, Reels will work well for some businesses, and not so well for others. It really depends on the kinds of people you’re targeting, and how they tend to interact with your social content. There’s no guarantee that posting a Reel every 24 hours will get you the engagement you want, as you’ll find out a little later on. All you can do is increase your video content output yourself, analyse the data, and see what effect your hard work has had on your account.
Here’s what I found after posting video clips to Instagram for 31 days straight.
Firstly, it was tiring. Coming up with high energy content every day was hard, especially as I was balancing this challenge with managing client accounts, attending networking events and looking after Baby Bean. To maximise my time, I did batch record my videos wherever I could, but staying inspired and maintaining the pace was tough. This isn’t a challenge for the faint-hearted, let me tell you!
But, I think it was a worthwhile exercise, because some interesting statistics showed up in my Insights dashboard when July eventually came to an end.
Releasing between two to three Reels per week in June had already led to brilliant improvements in reach and engagement. In fact, June was one of the best ever months for Jelly Bean in these respects. But in July, Instagram told me that my account reach had increased by a further 12.9%, compared to the previous month.
In July, 10,171 accounts viewed my Reels content, and 9,000 of them were non-followers.
What’s even more fascinating is that the Reel with the best reach – nearly 3,000 impressions, in fact – didn’t contain any work-related content at all. In this video, I was talking about the pros and perils of being self-employed during a heatwave in the UK. It was totally NOT relevant to my services, but people must have enjoyed what I had to say, because the impressions for this video were at an all-time high. So maybe there’s an argument for keeping Reels content light and entertaining rather than too “professional”?
Despite the increase in impressions, my overall content interactions were down. However, I don’t pay too much attention to this, because Instagram divides these interactions into Posts, Stories and Reels. My Reels-specific interactions were up by 37.5%, so they were getting lots of comments, saves and shares, and that’s what mattered!
OK, here’s where it gets a bit weird. I didn’t gain any new net followers in July. In fact, by the end of the month, I had lost one follower overall. Either something in my content wasn’t resonating with my audience, or I hadn’t considered the needs of non-followers enough to encourage them to want to view more from me.
This wasn’t the end of the world. My current strategy is all about nurturing existing connections, not making new ones. But for someone whose sole aim is to grow their account, putting loads of time and energy into creating Reels might not be the best way to boost the numbers – at least according to my experience here.
Another thing that struck me was that profile visits and website taps decreased in July. Clearly, I need to tidy up my calls to action; I need to tell people exactly where I want them to go, or what I want them to do, after they have viewed my content. Without specific directions, most people were having a look, maybe having a chuckle, and then heading elsewhere.
What’s with this pattern?
My impressions weren’t consistent throughout the month. Far from it. They would tend to boom to numbers in the thousands for one Reel, then drop back down again to just 200 or 300 for the next couple of videos. After a while, I started to notice that this was a regular thing, to the point where I could almost predict which video was going to get the most visibility. I didn’t have to look into hashtags or trending audios to give my Reel the best chance of success – I just knew which piece was likely to be the ‘chosen one’.
I looked into this in more detail, because I was curious to see if it was just me, or whether it was an Instagram-wide thing. This boom-and-bust pattern can be seen everywhere, even across accounts that have thousands of followers. It seems to run across periods of between 5 and 7 days. Odd, but handy to know, right?
Is it worth using hashtags in Reels?
During the first half of July, I researched and used hashtags quite extensively in my Reels. In the second half of the month, I didn’t. Now I know that I only stuck to this challenge for a short period of time – but to me, it didn’t seem as though hashtags made any difference to visibility or engagement, especially as my most-viewed Reel didn’t have hashtags, didn’t have a cover photo, and was posted in the middle of the day. (All the things we’re told not to do actually got me the best results!)
I would recommend applying a series of more niche tags to your Reels if you can, but don’t spend ages worrying about finding the right words and phrases.
Will I be doing it again?
I saw some increase in reach and content reactions. And I don’t just mean in terms of vanity metrics, either. I also noticed that, when I was having conversations with people, they were mentioning that they had seen my Reels, although most of them hadn’t liked, shared, saved or commented on the content at all. If nothing else, these Reels provided me with great talking points amongst some of my social lurkers!
So, I’m going to continue posting Reels, but less frequently. June’s strategy worked just as well for me in terms of direct benefits to my account, and creating two or three videos per week is much less time-intensive! I’ve learned that I need to tighten up my calls to action and have a clear goal for every Reel I post, so I’ll be bearing this in mind in the coming weeks and months.
Also, I think this experiment has proven to me that finding the right balance with your content is still key. Some people don’t watch or absorb information in video form, so I still need to make sure I’m publishing content in a mixture of formats and keeping my main grid looking fresh for people who like to just have a nosey around every now and then.
Have you been using Instagram Reels as part of your social media strategy? Have they helped your account, or have they not performed as well as you’d hoped? I’d love to hear all about your experiences!
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