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Instagram Reels for Business: 32 Easy, Effective Video Ideas

by Tracy Hoeft

March 27, 2021

Instagram , Instagram Reels , Social Media , TikTok , YouTube

Instagram Reels is the new top social media priority for businesses. The big question is how can a business consistently and efficiently create content that will work well on Reels? We put together 32 specific ideas on what you can post and how to approach it, so you can grab this opportunity while it is red hot.

WHY Instagram Reels for Your Business?

Before we dig into the how, we need to spend just a moment on the why. If you use Facebook and Instagram for your business now, you have certainly noticed how the organic reach of the Feed has continued to decline. That is not likely to change and if you want to continue to enjoy organic (unpaid) reach, you need to make a change. Thankfully Instagram Reels and the other short vertical video platforms (TikTok and YouTube Shorts) give businesses a strong opportunity to reach more of their followers, plus reach lots of people that do not follow them. It is this expanded reach that has made Reels a priority for us and our clients and why we wanted to help make it work well for you.

32 Ideas for Your Business

Our goal here is to both get your creative juices flowing and give you some pointers along the way. Get a note pad out and use each of these ideas as a launch pad for your creativity. Let’s find the right concept to create Instagram Reels for your business.

1. Box it or unbox it

Unboxing videos are popular and consumers love them. These are a perfect fit with your Reels content mix. Ask your buyers to record and share their unboxing videos with you. The reverse version of this idea would be to do a boxing video. As you package a product show that process and all that is going into the box, both literally in the box and the care you put into it. If you sell a service or more virtual product, find a way to capture what goes into you helping your new customers. Maybe that is onboarding or a video call, no matter what you sell, you work to make it a good first experience for your customer and there is likely some Reel potential in that.

2. Before & after

How do you help people? What problem do you solve for your customers? Find a way to make that into a short Reel. If you cut hair, show the before and after. If you are a mortgage broker, show a smiling customer with their new home. You can create a short narrative story that shows a few steps along the way. This format is powerful since showing your prospective customer how their life can get better with your help is the ultimate form of marketing.

3. Sneak preview

Curiosity and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) are two powerful emotional drivers that you can put to work in your next Instagram Reel. Tease that you have a new product coming to create curiosity. Use videos of people having a great time in your store or with your product to build a little more FOMO.

4. Celebrate holidays

In addition to the typical holidays, there are more obscure and often fun holidays that are the perfect starting point for a great Reel. Depending on your business it might be May the 4th be with You Day, Pizza Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Selfie Day, or Take Your Dog to Work Day. There really is something for every business. Here is a link to a great calendar of all of the holidays by HubSpot. Go ahead and find a few fun holidays and cook up some Instagram Reels for your business.

5. Leverage the timed text

TikTok made popular the ability to add text over your video and be able to control when it appears on screen and when it goes away. Both Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts have carried over that simple form of animation and this has become a defining visual element for these platforms. Let this timed text be your friend. Talk less and let on-screen text tell your story. You could have a simple video of your product or your business and use text to tell a story.

6. Instagram reels slideshow

One easy way to make an attractive and compelling Reel is to use a number of photos. The idea of a slideshow might seem old-school, but it can be really effective. Blend in some on-screen timed text and some trending music and you could have a winner.

Quick Tip: Instagram Reels offers a library of licensed music to put together with your video. This is a native part of the platform and therefore especially powerful. Use music that is trending to ride that wave.

7. Time lapse

For many different topics, a time lapse visual approach might be more engaging than a traditional video. Viewers quickly understand that they will get to see a story that took far longer than half a minute to play-out in a mere 30 seconds. A restaurant could have a time lapse of the restaurant during the day showing it going from empty to busy (lunch) to near empty to packed. What do you do that would be really interesting to see in this fast-frame format?

8. Slo mo

Chances are, the video camera on your phone has great slo mo built right in. It can be surprising how darn cool some pretty standard processes are when shown in slow mo. Get that slow mo setting going and capture everything that might work in your business and you might unlock a Reel hit.

9. User-generated content

Featuring your clients is a great way to generate compelling videos and to tell your story. Depending on the product or service that you offer, you might be able to offer a hashtag challenge or contest where you reward the best short videos. You can ask your customers to post their Instagram Reels on their own account and tag you and use a special hashtag. For the best videos ask for permission to also repost on your account and perhaps compensate them in some way.

10. Make a list

Share a Top 10, or Key Insights or anything else that you can deliver in a list format. Show one item at the time on-screen with a supporting visual. A good list can draw people in and have them watch more than once to make sure that they did not miss anything.

11. Behind the scenes

We all want access to those places where we are not typically allowed to go. What type of backstage access could you provide? This does not need to be something big, just something not normally readily accessible. A tour of your office perhaps. If you visit a supplier or a trade show, share some video or a slide show of that. Heck a look inside of your office refrigerator could work well.

12. How it’s made

People love to see how something is made, how can you leverage that to make a potent Instagram Reel? Since you are working on a short video, you need to think in smaller chunks. Maybe a full factory tour in 30 seconds is not going to work, but how about a time lapse or slow mo video of one step in your production process? Or if it is a handmade product, show some of the craftsmanship. If you are a service business, show how you do something or how you prepare for a service call.

13. Introduce yourself

Not every Reel has to be a story or cool effect — introduce yourself. Just look into the camera and introduce yourself or your business. You might be pleasantly surprised how that video does. It is for sure a great place to start your short video adventure.

14. Tips & tricks

Share some tips & tricks that people will love to know about your product or your category. Is there a cool shortcut or hack on your product that you can showcase? If you offer a SaSS product, maybe show how it works with Zapier or another popular platform. If you are a dog groomer share a favorite shampoo or how a certain item everyone has around the house is great for dog care. This is a great way for you to showcase your unique in-depth knowledge of your niche.

15. Step by step

A great content format with Instagram Reels for businesses is to show someone a step-by-step guide to your product or service. As with the “tips and tricks” idea above, this showcases your knowledge, but the focus here is guiding someone to the point of being able to learn and do something themselves. For our dog groomer example, this might be how to clean your dog’s teeth or tie a great bow on your pet’s collar. Teaching something in a short Reel can be tricky, remember to leverage the loop. Since people can watch it over and over again, show what you want to teach slow and then fast and allow them to watch that slow part over and over to learn. You can augment your lesson with on-screen text, but also with additional info in the captions.

16. Repurpose videos

Perhaps you have spent years making video content for YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. That can be a goldmine for you as you look to excel in the new short video era. Look at your long-form video content to find content that can be re-edited to short form and the vertical video format. Keep in mind that the audience on Reels and TikTok expect you to get to the point, so edit creatively. Consider leaving out some parts and using on-screen text to create the setup or use a time lapse/ quick-cut format to cut minutes down to seconds while still conveying the point. Make a video that draws a user in, tells them where they are and then gives them something worth waiting for.

17. Product demo

It is no accident that we did not mention this idea earlier in this article. Prioritizing your viewer over your business goals is critical in social media. Prioritize what you can do to help your potential customers learn what they want to learn, educate them, entertain them and then you can mix in some traditional product marketing. Make your product demo fit the Instagram Reels format. Use some of the other ideas shared here to make it a video that will draw people in and want to view it on repeat.

18. Meet the team

Create a video to introduce each member of your team (one Reel per team member). Let them talk to the camera and tell a little about themselves. Not just the “what I do here” message, but what is interesting about them? Do they have a surprising hobby or background? Or what is their favorite product or project from what you do?

19. A day in the life

Creating “a day in the life” Instagram Reel is a great way for a business to win. Think about simple images or short snippet videos of the day. Use a time lapse format — perhaps an edit that starts with your drive to the office and ends with you turning off the lights. Think about “a day in the life” for different members of your teams, maybe featuring some clients.

20. Partner with an influencer

You don’t have to create all of the content yourself. Work with influencers who are a good fit for your business. This could be a popular influencers with a big audience, which brings with it the benefit of their reach. But micro-influencers or smaller content creators could be your best partners. While they might not have as big of an audience, many can create content that you will love. Look for these content creators within your own customers or scroll through Instagram and other sites looking for people creating content in your space that you find interesting and appealing.

21. Testimonials

There are a few slick ways to use testimonials or short pieces of positive feedback to create Reels. The obvious one is to ask customers to do a simple video on their phone bragging about your product. An alternative is to have the customer on-screen and then use the ability to add text on-screen to share their comments or review. Using short text gradually throughout the video can draw people in.

Quick Tip: It is OK if your on-screen text moves too fast to read the first time. The benefit of the default looping effect is that your viewers cam watch your short video a few times with ease. Fast text can draw people in and encourage them to watch it a few times. The benefit here is that someone watching your video a few times is a key indicator to Instagram that your Reel is a hit with viewers and therefore worth showing to more people.

22. Answer FAQs

Short video formats like Reels, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts can be a great place to answer your potential customers’ frequently asked questions. Cover just one question with its answer. The format might be to quickly read the question and then give a short answer. Make sure to put supporting text on-screen for the question and then the answer. Pair these videos with a note in the caption to ask people to suggest other questions that they want you to ask. This will drive future videos and help your viewers feel more connected with you.

23. Did you know….?

What is it about you and/or your business that people do not know or would find unexpected? People love stories and good storytelling works well in almost any platform. Share something people will find interesting or unexpected. What famous customer came into your shop? How did you come up with your company’s name? Go ahead and surprise us.

24. IRL – share your struggles

Businesses tend to try to have a perfected and polished brand image, which is why most struggle to find any success on social media. If you are willing to get more real, you will appeal to a new audience. This does not need to be confessions, but rather real insights like what is or was the biggest struggle in your business. If you lost a customer and that taught you something, share that. Other ideas would be to share what keeps you going? What is your why?

25. Customer recognition

Find a way to use your Reels channel to highlight, thank, or support your customers. Maybe you make a mini video ad for your customers. Perhaps you do a featured customer per month. Be sure to make these about the customer and pointing those viewing this video toward them.

26. Run a giveaway

In the User Generated Content, we touched on the idea of using hashtags and challenges, which is typically you leveraging naturally created content, but you can take a more proactive role in this. Create a contest and promote it with a Reel. Perhaps it is a simple “enter to win” promotion, but it could also be a way to challenge people to create content. We frequently use both and find that it really engages our audience. There are many tools available to help manage an effort like this, we use Woobox and Gleam most often.

27. Meet the pets

OK this is the oldest trick in the internet book, but people love pets, even on Instagram Reels.

28. Recently completed

Share what you sold today or finished today. If you are a retailer, asking customers to pose with their purchase and include that (tag the customer), combining several into a Reel. If you are a realtor show the house you listed or sold today. A guitar player can preview a song that she finished today or leaving tonight’s gig. Hopefully something was sold, completed or accomplished in your business, so share it in a Reel.

29. How it started

Another way to allow your customers to get to know your business better and therefore care more about it is sharing some “how it started” stories. Maybe a photo of your first office or first product. If your business has been around for while, you could share early ads or your first patent or first dollar.

30. Industry insights

You are an expert in your field, what top-level insights can you share that people would be interested in? Perhaps some interesting industry stats or unlikely trends.

31. A reel deal

Reward people that follow you on social media by giving them inside information on special offers. Test some discount codes that are exclusively available to people that watch your Reel. You can show the code on-screen using the native Reels text tool and/or in the caption. If from time to time viewers find that they are being offered exclusive deals they are likely to pay more attention to all of your videos.

32. Make it musical

Music is a fundamental element for Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, just as it has been with TikTok. Trends are built around music and people can search by music to see all videos on the platform using that music. You can select from the provided music library as you create your Reel. If you are making a video without its own audio, give it a try. Find music that is on trend or perhaps has some words or a message that matches with your post.

We hope that these 30 suggestions on Instagram Reels for business will get your creative juices going. Reels and the other short vertical videos are the best opportunity in social media for businesses today (see our article on WHY here). We would love to watch your progress, so take a moment and fill out the form below and tell us where to follow your business on Instagram.

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