Key Learnings from a Reels-only Strategy on Instagram
After sharing many Reels, Olivia’s learned a thing or two.
Here are her top six takeaways:
#1: It’s Not All About Going Viral
Olivia’s take on going viral? It’s actually to not focus on going viral at all.
“When your focus is solely on going viral, you lose the authenticity behind your content,” she explains. “Plus, audiences are smart — they can suss out when it’s forced or someone is posting just to post.”
If you create Reels to go viral, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
“You can spend three minutes on a Reel and get 100K views and spend three hours on another and get 250 views. The algorithm can feel so incredibly random.”
Instead of thinking about the viral potential of a video, Olivia considers: how can I grow my community and how can I add value?
“I don't need a billion DMs or a billion Reels views. I want an intimate group of people that are really interested in what I'm talking about and who are happy to be there,” she adds.
“If doing those two things creates a viral video, then great. If not, that’s okay. I’ll try again next time.”
#2: Content Pillars Are Key
Content pillars, also referred to as content buckets or categories, are three to five topics your brand consistently discusses, amplifies, and creates content for on social media.
“When you use content pillars, you’re signalling to Instagram what your niche is. Then, both the algorithm and your audience know what to expect from you.”
Olivia’s main content pillars are: recipes, health and wellness, aesthetic b-roll, mini vlogs, and quotes.
“My content pillars keep me grounded. They come in handy when I don’t feel inspired or if I don’t know what type of content to create. I’ll look at my content buckets and know I can always create something within those topics.”
Another piece of the content creation process for Olivia is repurposing content.
“Since I’m posting so many Reels, there’s no way I can film and re-shoot new content every single day. And I’m sure many other business owners feel the same.”
Instead of shooting new content for each Reel, go through your camera roll and see if there are any clips that can be repurposed under each content pillar.
You may be surprised at how many pieces of content you can pull from one video clip!
#3: Trending Music is Everything
One of Olivia’s key learnings and biggest piece of advice is to think of your Reels with an audio lens first.
“The very first thing I’ll do before anything else is scroll through Instagram to see what’s trending. Once I find something, I’ll ask myself: how can I make this audio work for me? How can I use this song?”
“When I find the trending sound I want to use, I'll screen record a video using the sound, upload the clip into InShot, extract the audio from the screen recordings, and then put it over the video so I can edit in the app.
Then, I'll delete that sound in InShot, upload the video to Instagram, and add the actual sound in Instagram.”
Looking for trend inspiration? Here are a few ways to find trending audio on Instagram:
Check out Later’s weekly Instagram Reels trends resource
Scroll your Instagram feed and bookmark any songs that you hear on repeat
Follow Instagram Reels tips accounts like @reelstips
#4: Try, Try, Try, and Try Again
It took Olivia months of consistent posting to find her Reels groove. And even so, she’s always learning and evolving her strategy.
“You learn from every single post you make. I look back and think, how on earth did I post that? And others I’ll look back and feel proud of the Reel, but the views don’t necessarily reflect the time spent.”
The key takeaway: Your Reels strategy may not work right away, and that’s okay.
“If you’re just starting out and you’re feeling defeated, remember you’re comparing someone’s middle to your beginning.”
#5: 6-12 Seconds Is the Sweet Spot
When it comes to the ideal Reels length, Olivia’s learned that people love short, simple videos.
“I’ve found that 6 -12 seconds is the sweet spot,” Olivia shares.
“There is so much you can do in a short amount of time. If your product is a candle, put your candle on your desk under pretty sunlight, pop some music over top, and boom, you’ve got yourself a Reel,” she shares.
“You don’t have to create an Oscar-worthy movie on Reels.”
#6: On-screen Text Is a Must
Whether it’s a tutorial, recipe, or a mini-vlog, Olivia confirms that on-screen text is an absolute necessity for accessibility and inclusivity.
“If there’s any sort of speaking in your Reels, you should use captions. Use Instagram’s automatic captions or write them. Who cares if that part of the video looks aesthetic or not. Don't worry about aesthetics, be worried about creating accessible content!”
We’re in a generation of people who want to consume content really quickly.
Olivia also recommends using on-screen text as the best solution — leveraging Instagram’s reels app fonts to be exact.
“98% of the time I include a CTA on the Reel itself. I can’t rely on people pressing and reading the caption, so I do my best to put it out there in the easiest way possible.”
TIP: Encourage your Reels' viewers to head to your link in bio with on-screen CTAs and use Linkin.bio by Later to create a custom landing page for your account.
You can add unlimited clickable buttons, customize to match your brand color palette, and create a linked version of your Instagram feed!
Pivoting to Reels has had a major impact on Olivia’s business and Instagram performance, but her number one takeaway?
Stay true to your brand identity.
“Stay true to yourself and your brand while trying out a new format. Trust me, you’ll see the pay off”
“You don’t have to change your entire strategy like I did. Start off by creating and adding one Reel per week into the mix.”
What’s important is that you’re pivoting your strategy to reflect how Instagram is changing and evolving.
With Later, you can plan, schedule, and automatically publish your Reels in advance — sign up today: