Instagram can be one of the best social media platforms that digital product sellers can use to grow and nurture their audience and launch their digital products.
But it can be super easy to get lost with all of Instagram’s different features – you’ve got your feed, stories, Reels, IGTV – how can you leverage each of these specific different features to help your business and sell your products?
If you know me, I’m not super Instagram savvy by any means, and this is one area that I really wanted to learn more about. That’s why I’ve invited Natasha Samuel to be on the podcast today.
Natasha is the host of the Shine Online podcast and she’s an Instagram strategist that helps small businesses shine and people show up authentically online. Natasha is a QUEEN when it comes to Reels content and also just Instagram content in general!
When Reels first rolled, out, Natasha hosted a 30-day Instagram Reels challenge and that challenge helped her experiment and learn a lot about how Reels work, how to leverage them and how to use them in your business strategy.
We are so lucky to be able to pick her brain today, so let’s get started.
What are Instagram Reels and How Can Small Businesses Use Them?
Maybe you’ve never used Reels before, and that’s okay! Here are the basics – this is Instagram Reels 101:
- Essentially, Instagram Reels are a competitor to TikTok, which is a short form video platform known for looping videos. The videos don’t end or move onto another piece of content – the video continues to play and loop.
- They’re are super engaging – usually there’s some type of audio or music, whether it’s voiceovers or a trendy sound or music.
- There's usually some type of text element, and it tends to be very snappy, entertaining, and very concise
- Reels videos are often comprised of a lot of different clips and elements.
- Reels videos are super short – only 15-30 seconds long (this may change soon to 60 seconds!)
- Reels can be super addictive – the algorithm is intended to show you really great content it thinks you’ll like. Each video is a little, short dose of excitement or entertainment, a laugh, or a really great tip.
Does my business have a place in Reels?
Natasha says yes, definitely! Your business can definitely find a place in Reels. Even if platforms like TikTok or Reels makes you feel old, brands can use these platforms and leverage trends and humor to take off.
Reels is for you if you want to keep up with those trends and humor. You also want to make your Reels content relevant to your niche, your industry and what your target audience is interested in. That’s a great way to create those connection points, to show your personality, and to leverage what is so appealing about that type of content.
However, even though TikTok and Reels are known for more entertaining content, dances, music and other trends, you absolutely don't need to use those at all.
Using Reels just means you need to create short videos that give something valuable to your audience, whether that is a laugh or if it's a really quick, digestible tip. You just want to make sure that whatever you do on Reels, it is relevant, appealing and valuable for your audience.
You can follow video trends, but also you can just pull out your camera and talk like you would on Instagram stories. Going against the norm of what you typically see on those platforms is a great way to stand out!
Don't like showing up on video? You don’t have to post videos of yourself to make a good Reel – you can create videos that don’t show your face or screenshare. You also don’t have to talk to the camera – you can hold up a number, point to some text, and use a voiceover or music.
Types of Reels Videos You Can Create
Natasha says there are three different types of Reels that you can create. Let’s break them down!
1. Entertaining Reels – these are the videos that follow the trends, the music and the dancing. They’re unique and great for catching people’s attention. They’re also great for showing off your personality!
A type of entertaining Reel that digital product creators can create is using a funny sound, a dance, or something trendy to talk about their customers’ pain points or share their expertise. The key here is to tie the trend back into what you do and what your products are.
The most entertaining Reels get even bigger reach – this can help you to get more views even if you only have a very small audience.
2. Educational Reels – These are Reels that teach, show, or give people something that they can watch quickly and leave knowing something knew.
As a digital product creator, this is a great technique to leverage because it can help to position you as an expert in your space. You can do tutorials or little mini trainings, quick tips or hacks.
3. Inspiring Reels – These tell a story that inspires the viewer. You want to bring people through a narrative that has a clear start, a clear ending, and shows where it’s taking you.
It could be a transformation – maybe a client transformation from before to after using your product, or it could be your story of how you started your business, why you were searching for the solution and what problems you found in your industry.
Which type of Reel is the right fit for you and your digital product?
There’s no one correct Reels approach – if one of them is more appealing to you or leans into your brand more, that’s the one you should go for. You can also combine any or all of the three types of Reels to make really appealing content for your audience.
The Way that People (Your Audience) Finds Reels
In general, there’s two kinds of people that you’re reaching with your Reels – new viewers and people who are already in your audience.
One benefit of Reels is the insane amount of reach that you can get from people that are not in your audience and are just scrolling through videos. You can get hundreds or thousands of views on a Reels video (or more!) which might be much bigger than your internal audience, but these views are more quick, snappy and less targeted.
By reaching new people you're inherently growing your audience, which means they can eventually become a customer or client.
On the other hand, you’ll also be reaching your current audience, and you want to make sure that you’re using your Reels to nurture those people instead of just trying to reach new people.
Taking someone that you reach organically through Reels and converting them is going to take a little bit more time to warm them up and for them to become a customer than if you’re creating Reels content that serves your current audience really well.
It’s important to think, do you want to get your audience a little bit bigger so you have more of a lead pool that you can pull from? Or do you want to nurture your current audience?
If you’re trying to get in front of more people, maybe leveraging those entertaining trends or providing quick tips that apply to many are the best approach. But if you want to appeal to your current audience, maybe dive deep into the education realm and serve your audience so that they are so warm and trusting of you as a product creator when it comes time for them to make a purchasing decision.
Of course, a reel can do both – but knowing your strategy beforehand can help you to plan out content that helps you to better accomplish your goals.
Promoting Your Digital Product Using Instagram Reels
A common misconception is that you can just talk about and promote your product in a Reel, but this isn’t a great strategy. You can definitely talk about your products in Reels, but overall they're are better for nurturing your audience, warming them up, building that trust, and positioning yourself as an expert through different types of content instead of just promoting your products.
If you can give your audience a lot of entertainment and value in your Reels and caption, that’s a much more natural and organic sales process. Remember, show, don’t tell, is better in Reels!
Some Best Practices for Creating Reels
- Outline your content before you start filming. This is a small step that will make the process so much easier, and your video more strategic! Create an outline that will guide you through your whole Reel so you’re not thinking off the fly while you record.
- Note the specific strategies you’re planning in you’re outline. Make sure to note if you’re planning on including some type of music or sound, a voiceover, or if you’re talking to the camera.
- Use the formula of threes – people really digest and lean on things that are created in threes (three steps! Three hacks! Three poses!)
- Decide your main takeaways and call to action and make sure those are clear in your caption and video.
- Use text. This will add a lot to the actual Reel, so don’t forget to spend some time on your captions and other text! Make sure this matches your brand voice, and keep it short and sweet. Really focus on adding whatever your viewer needs to know to either continue watching the video or engage in the caption.
The Main Elements of Your Reels Captions
Natasha recommends having three main elements in your Reels captions.
1. A really strong hook.
Your strong hook should tell your viewer why they should care, why they should continue watching that video, and what they’re going to leave with.
The first five seconds is also the most valuable part of your video. You have to get people to stop scrolling and pay attention to your entire Reel, so really make sure you’re concise!
2. Give the value of the video.
What are the tips? What are the main points? What is the story that you’re telling?
Use a lot of line breaks so it’s not just one big blob of words. Make sure that you’re breaking it up with emojis, bullet points and caps for added attention and to make them a bit more readable.
3. End with a call to action.
Natasha likes to use this, especially if she’s serving her internal audience. Leverage engaging captions, like “what are your thoughts on this?” or “Which step are you excited to use?”
Leveraging internal community engagement can help your Reels go far, because if people are watching, spending a lot of time on the caption, commenting, saving, or sharing, that will tell the algorithm and help to get your video out there in the world.
If it fits, you can also use your digital product in some way as a call to action. You can offer your product as the next step as a way to dive a little bit deeper.
Using Hashtags in Reels
Natasha says that in general, people that used hashtags during her 30-day Reel challenge saw more use and reach on their Reels.
Generally, it’s beneficial to use hashtags on your Reels. Just make sure you’re following the rules that you’d use with hashtags regularly – they should be specific, not too big, use niche hashtags and really describe what you’re essentially talking about in your video.
Best Practices for How Often You Should Be Sharing Reels
To be completely honest, the more often you use Reels, the more consistent your growth will be. For Natasha’s 30-day Reels challenge, she posted Reels 5 days a week and saw pretty intense growth in her audience, with an increase of 5000 followers.
Since then she’s seen consistent growth by using Reels, and she recommends using it at least three times a week.
Posting Reels 5 days a week may be too much for most of us though, and if that’s the case for you, Natasha wants to remind you that Reels are also feed posts. If you post a Reel it can also be shared to your feed! This means you can switch around your already existing schedule to make some of your feed posts Reel posts, so you don’t have to add a ton onto what you’re already creating.
The key thing is understanding what your capacity is and deciding how seriously you want to take Reels. While posting more and more will definitely give you better results and you may have more engagement and reach, you need to be honest with what your capacity is when it comes down to it.
Some other questions you can ask yourself are:
- Do you have support with creating Instagram content?
- How much content can you repurpose?
- How can you leverage things to make things easier and not very, very difficult for you?
To make it easier on yourself, make sure you’re outlining your Reels so that it matches your content and you can get ahead, so you don’t have to feel pressured to constantly create in the moment.
Watching Reels Can Help You Create Better Reels
While consuming a lot of content on social media isn’t always good for you and it can influence you in a negative way, Natasha says that it is still important to engage with the platform, watch other people’s videos and consume Reels content so you can stay up to date on trends.
When there's a trend that’s really relevant to your business, you need to hop on that. It might just mean pushing your content that isn't as timely back a little bit.
At the same time, keep in mind that you don’t want to only focus on the trending elements in your Reels videos – this can be overwhelming and time-consuming to keep up with.
Natasha says the best place to start is planning your content – take some time to sit down what your topics are, your frequently asked questions, and what’s relevant to your offers. If you outline all that, then you have content that can easily be posted all the time and is super relevant. You won’t always have to chase trends, but you can use them when they fit with your brand or content.
Learn More from Natasha
Follow Natasha on Instagram, and check out her Reels channel, @ShinewithNatasha. While you’re there, check out her highlight and guide all about Reels tips and strategies.
Visit Natasha’s website, Shine with Natasha.