How to Create an Instagram Reel

Jul 25, 2022

How to create an Instagram Reel by Social Progress, header image with bold headline and photograph of a mobile phone capturing an Instagram Reel

If you spend a lot of time on social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, you may have noticed Reels becoming the ‘next big thing’.

With Instagram trialling a new full-screen feed and updated algorithm, both which seem to heavily favour Reels, and now Facebook jumping on the bandwagon too, by introducing Facebook Reels, it looks like static posts, and even square/landscape videos aren’t going to get the traction they used to.

So, if you want to make sure your content is still being seen by your followers, you might want to start getting savvy with Reels, sooner rather than later.


So, what is a Reel?


In a nutshell, Facebook and Instagram Reels are short, vertical videos of up to 90-seconds in length.

Reels were first introduced by Instagram back in 2020, as ‘a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram’. Initially, they started out as videos of up to 15-seconds long, which could include multiple video clips edited together. Now, Instagram reels have grown in popularity as well as size, and videos can be up to 90-seconds long.

As well as editing features that include clipping various short videos together, Reels also allow you to add text, stickers, and original or trending music, to make your video unique and entertaining.


Okay, so how do I create an Instagram Reel?Screenshot of Instagram home feed showing where to navigate to make an Instagram Reel


To make an Instagram Reel, first, open the Instagram app on your mobile, and make sure you are logged into the account you would like to post your Reel from.


1. Find the Reel Composer

In the top right-hand corner of your Instagram feed, you should see a little square with a ‘+’ inside. Simply tap this, to bring up the various post-types you can create. Select ‘Reel’ to enter the Reel Composer and get started!


2. Prepare your scene

You will now see your camera, overlayed with various tools and options for creating and editing your Reel. Before you start filming, you have the option to select any of the tools down the left-hand side of the screen to change the way your video looks and sounds. Here’s a quick run down of these options:


  • Add music to your reel: Don’t worry too much about this one now, as you can always add music later on in the process, but this feature is really (or reel-y) handy if you are capturing something that needs to be filmed exactly in time to the music.


  • Select a filter: Here, you can change the way your video looks, by adding a funky filter which either changes the colours in your video, or adds overlays such as sparkles or flowers. Again, there are filter options you can select post-production, but these are more limited, so it’s worth adding one now if there’s something specific you’re looking for.

Screenshot of Instagram Reel composer depicting each pre-recording tool in step two of How to Make an Instagram Reel

  • Set the duration of your reel: Here, you can change the length of your reel to be a maximum of 15, 30, 60, or 90 seconds long. Once you start filming, you will see a countdown at the top of your screen from your set limit, so you can easily keep track of how long you have left.


  • Change the speed: This option allows you to either speed up or slow down your footage, to either 0.3x, 0.5x, 2x or 3x the original speed of your video.


  • Play with the layout: If you are creating a video that displays two clips side by side, or even three or four clips at the same time on the same screen, this option allows you to do just that. Just tap the grid icon and select the layout of your choice.


  • Set a timer: The final option you have is to set a timer which counts you in before recording starts. Choose your desired length and make sure everyone is ready for action with a handy countdown.


3.  Add or capture your contentCapturing content for Instagram Reel through Instagram

If you already have the video footage you will be using for your Reel, tap the option in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to add photos or videos from your phone’s gallery. Or, if you are yet to capture your footage, simply tap the big white circle at the bottom-centre of your screen to start recording, and tap it again when you’re done.


4. Clip your clips

How to make an Instagram Reel - Clipping video footage through Instagram Reels on mobile

Once you have captured and added all your video clips, tap ‘preview’ at the bottom of your screen to see how they all look.

If you have added multiple video clips to your Reel, now is the time to trim them down, so there’s no awkward fumbling or unnecessary blank space. Click ‘edit clips’ in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen, then tap the clip you would like to trim, and move the bars at the start and end of the timeline to crop.

Below the timeline, you will also see the option to add any additional clips into your Reel, or re-order the clips you already have.



5. Jazz it up!

Instagram Reel editing tools with labels explaining each feature: Download, Manage Audio, Add Text, Stickers, Draw and FiltersOn the preview screen, you will also see further options to edit your Reel along the top of the screen. Add text, stickers music and more, to explain what’s happening in the video, to emphasise points, or just to make it that bit more fun! Here’s what you can do with each tool:


  • Download: The first option at the tip of your screen simply allows you to save the Instagram Reel you have created to your mobile phone.


  • Audio: If you didn’t select music before filming your footage, or selected video clips from your cameral roll instead, you can choose to add music to your Reel now.


Tap the musical notes to choose a song from Instagram’s music library. You can then select a specific section of that song that you would like to use for your Reel by dragging the slider at the bottom of the screen. Pink spots on the slider highlight parts of the song that are most popular in Reels.

Adding audio to Instagram reels screenshot of trending audio on mobile phoneManaging audio levels in Instagram reels
Once you have added your chosen song, you can adjust the audio levels to either mute any unnecessary background noise in your original footage, or increase this volume so any important camera audio can be heard.

There are also further options to record a voice-over over the top of your video, or to add fun sound effects.


  • Text: Tap the ‘Aa’ at the top of your screen to add text to your video. If you are familiar with Instagram Stories, this works in exactly the same way. Type in whatever you want to say with your mobile keyboard, then edit the alignment, colour, and style of your text by tapping the options at the top of the screen, and scrolling through the fonts at the bottom. You can also choose to animate your text if you want to add a bit more pizazz to your video.

How to make an Instagram Reel - adding text to your ReelEditing text timings on Instagram Reels
If you would like your text to only appear at certain points of the Reel, tap your text, and move the white bars at the start and end of the timeline at the bottom of the screen to set where your text appears and disappears. This can be fiddly, so be prepared to be patient! If you have multiple snippets of text, you can set the timings for each, separately. The text you are editing will be highlighted in white at the bottom of the screen.


  • Adding stickers to an Instagram ReelStickers: Stickers are great for adding a bit of fun and colour to your reel, or for when the text options just aren’t ‘wow’ enough for you. Use the search bar at the top to find stickers relevant to your Reel.


  • Draw: The ‘draw’ tool gives you full creative freedom, allowing you to doodle whatever you like across the screen. Use the tools across the top of the screen to change your ‘pen’ type and erase mistakes, and edit the colour from the selection at the bottom of the screen.

Top tip: You can also use the ‘colour picker’ tool next to the standard colours, to select a specific colour from your video.


  • Filters: If you want to change the colours of your Reel now you’ve put it together, or you’d like to explore a range of funky overlays, now is your chance! Scroll through Instagram’s range of filters to find the one that best suits your Reel.


6. It’s time to share your reel with the world

Once you have a finished Reel you’re happy with, it’s now time to publish it and share it with your followers! Tap ‘Next’ at the bottom of your screen, to navigate to the publishing page.

How to publish an Instagram Reel - screenshot on mobile phone of Instagram Reel publishing screenHow to add a cover image to your Instagram Reel
Here, you will see the option to set a cover image for your Reel. Simply tap on your Reel at the top of the screen and select a still from your video to display as the Reel cover. Alternatively, you can select your own cover image from your device’s camera roll. This just keeps your Reel looking neat, and gives a taster of the Reel’s content before it starts playing. If you choose to share your Reel to your profile, you can also choose a cropped version of your cover image to appear in your Instagram grid.

Below this, you can add a caption, just as you would a regular Instagram post, and don’t forget to include relevant hashtags too! (If you’re stuck with that, you can find out all about hashtags here.)

When an Instagram Reel is published, it displays on a separate tab in your profile, specifically for Reels. If you would also like to share this to the main section of your profile too, you can toggle the option that says ‘Also share to feed’.

Next, you can tag any other Instagram accounts that also appear in the video, or even invite a collaborator who can then share this onto their profile too by clicking the ‘tag people’ option.

Choose whether to add a location to your Reel, and then you’re good to go! Click ‘Share’ and send it out into the world.

If you found these steps helpful, let us know how you got on by tagging us in your Instagram Reel creations @socialprogress! And if you need any further help with Instagram Reels, be sure to get in touch with us to arrange a training session, or to find out more about our Reel and Short-form Video package.