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After TikTok exploded, Instagram quickly scrambled in mid-2020 to catch up to the market’s newfound love for short-form video content. It’s been a couple years now since Instagram rolled out the reels feature in an effort to compete with TikTok, and while many brands have hopped on the reels bandwagon, others have been sitting on the sidelines missing out on massive free exposure and opportunities.
But it’s not necessarily your fault. When you see other brands using reels in ways that don’t feel authentic or aligned with your brand, it’s easy to brush off the idea altogether and step back into your past content strategies.
The problem with this? You eventually get lost in the algorithm. You notice a dip in engagement. Your growth slows. You might have the best content on the app, but because you’re not sharing it in the preferred reels format, Instagram makes it a heck of a lot harder for you to grow.
Alas: my mission is to help you avoid that scenario altogether! After cracking the code to reels and growing my own platforms as well as clients’ in different industries worldwide, I’ve noticed a big reason business owners skimp out on embracing reels is because of five huge myths:
1. Your reels have to be high-production
You’ve scrolled Instagram and seen them: the professionally lit, meticulously edited videos that appear as though they were produced on a Hollywood film set. You think to yourself, “There’s no way I could do that every day, let alone even once. I have way too much on my plate already as it is.”
Good news! While having good lighting certainly doesn’t hurt, users on the platform are looking for one key thing in your content: authenticity.
If you want to attract real followers, you need to show them that you and your brand are real people. This means grab your iPhone, press record, add a caption and post. If you do want to have your try at some post-production editing, by all means have it, but know that it’s not required to create reels that go viral. If you still don’t believe it, consider the last few reels you were sent by a friend or reels that you found so good you had to watch on repeat. Chances are, one of them wasn’t studio-quality, but rather shot on a good ‘ol-fashioned iPhone.
2. You have to dance
While this one makes me laugh every time I have a client ask, I understand why it’s a serious hurdle for many entrepreneurs.
If you didn’t grow up performing on stages, or heck, if you just don’t want to feel like a monkey dancing to get attention, you don’t have to. Dancing works for some personal brands and businesses because they ENJOY it. The key to making reels work for you and your brand is to pick a format that feels aligned.
There are countless options other than dancing. You can sit down interview-style talking straight into the camera, tell a story using purely photos, or speak on top of a video (otherwise known as a voiceover). You don’t have to dance on reels to grow your audience.
3. They have to be short
Nothing will kill your creative flow (and opportunity to go viral) more than being fixated on making your reels a specific length. When it comes to getting more followers with reels, there is no need to put yourself in a box and tweak your reels to be the shortest possible.
While it’s true that people’s attention spans are getting shorter by the year, the market will always consume a good piece of content — regardless of its length. The key is to make it good. Instead of focusing on the length, focus on the message.
When you create your next reel, give yourself permission to not think about the length, but instead think about how well your message will resonate with your ideal audience. Doing this is a surefire way to grab attention and keep attention, regardless of how many seconds long your reel is. People don’t care how long a reel is if it’s engaging the whole way through.
4. If your reel doesn’t go viral overnight, it has no chance
Next time you post a reel and it doesn’t rack up millions of views in its first 24 hours, don’t mark it off as a flop. Thanks to the Instagram algorithm, reels can be pushed out to the explore page days, weeks and even months after they’ve been posted.
So, instead of obsessing over going viral in the first 24 hours, focus on making your content as evergreen as possible, knowing that it could go viral days after it’s already been posted.
5. You have to post multiple times a day to get any traction
This is arguably my favorite part about reels. You can go viral or at least garner tens of thousands of views with your first reel. I’ve seen it happen and it isn’t uncommon. You don’t need to post five reels a day to make it work, but you do need to be consistent.
Being consistent looks different for everyone, so your job is to pick a frequency that feels actually doable, so you can stick with it. For some, that happens to be once per day. For others, it might be three times a week. The key is to decide on your version of consistency and stick with it, so that your audience can learn to trust you and rely on you showing up in their feed.
Posting reels, let alone ANY type of content just for the sake of posting is always a surefire way to have your content fall flat. Every time you show up online should be with intention and backed by strategy.
You have a business to run, and your time spent on social media should make your life easier — not harder. Reels can help you do that when you implement a strategy that feels aligned with YOUR unique brand.