Everything You Need To Know About Instagram Reels and Explaining Instagram Shadowbans

Instagram Reels are so important in 2022 if your goal is to build followers, engagement and get your posts in front of new people - which is key!

The image below shows my Instagram analytics in the past 30 days, and you can see how dramatically high the reach is for targeting new followers. This is so high because Instagram Reels are Instagram's favoured feature. They want you to use Reels, especially in the TikTok era and so this type of content is pushed to new followers much higher than any other type of content.

How to use hashtags correctly

What are Instagram Reels?

Instagram Reels is a semi-new Instagram feature that allows users to create or upload a short video of up to 60 seconds in a relatively easy to navigate TikTok format.

As mentioned, Instagram Reels are especially important for growing your following and increasing your brand awareness as it's a relatively new and favoured feature, so Instagram pushes this type of content more. Make sure you use relevant hashtags in the description, or Instagram won't push your reel to new people.

How do I upload an Instagram Reel?

With practice, you can easily upload an Instagram Reel. To help I've created a walkthrough video which you can watch below.

First, you need to film the video that you want to upload. I usually take inspiration from TikTok and I screen record audio from videos on there. I'll then think of what scenario I want to act out, or what video I want to make as well as the text that I want to add to the video. Sometimes, simple videos work best. A Reel can simply be a video of yourself mouthing the words to a popular song, or audio. Pair that with a relatable caption and Instagram will push this.

I find editing videos on Instagram Reels difficult, so I use the app Splice. This is an easy to use photo editing software where you can extra audio from screen recordings, chop videos together, add text and so on. Instagram do favour Reels that use their features, so it's best to try and find audio/music on Instagram that you can use in your video, as well as using Instagram Reels to add your text. What I like to do is use Splice to edit and chop my videos together, as well as add music/audio from my TikTok screen recording. I'll then save the video and add it as a Reel on Instagram. This is when I'll add text captions before adding a description and posting the video as live. Now that you know which software to use, here's a walkthrough of how to upload the video to Instagram Reels.

Understanding your Reel insights

You can access your Reel insights by clicking on your reel and pressing the three dots underneath the sharing (kite/arrow) icon and then pressing view insights at the bottom.

When you're on your Reel insights you'll be able to see the following stats;

  • The number of plays your video has had

  • The number of accounts reached

  • The number of likes

  • The number of comments

  • The number of shares

  • The number of saves

I've found that, unlike with grid posts or Instagram TV, Instagram continues to push Reels continuously after uploading, so leave it a few days before checking your insights to get the best accurate results.

Reel algorithm tips from Instagram

Despite what we know above, the Instagram Reel algorithm is still a large mystery however Instagram have released a set of pointers for what you should, and shouldn't do, when creating a Reel.

Instagram has told us that it favours Reels that:

  • Are fun and entertaining (makes people laugh, grabs their attention)

  • Are inspiring and makes people want to copy it

  • Uses the Instagram creative tools like creative text, filters or camera effects

  • Uses vertical (portrait) video

  • Uses music from the Instagram music library or original audio that you can find directly on Instagram

  • Are experimental - try something new and be yourself

Instagram has told us that you should not post Reels that:

  • Are blurry due to low resolution

  • Are uploaded with a border around them

  • Have the majority of the video covered by text

  • Do not meet Instagram's Community Guidelines

What type of content should you be making?

You should aim to be making one of these three types of content if you want your Reels to be pushed to new people and be engaging.

Relatable Content

Content that is relatable is instantly shareable, meaning that it will be pushed to new people who will either share your content or tag their friends so that they can see it. This makes this type of content a go-to for brand awareness and profile growth.

Educational Content

The wonderful thing about content that is educational is that it is saveable. This is important because Instagram pushes posts that have a high number of saves. Educational content is ideal for those who want to be recognized as a leader in their field.

Product Showcasing Content

This type of content showcases your product, which would probably be your book. An important tip is to not be too sales-y when making this type of content. Try to weave in your product in relateable or educational content to increase your product awareness.

Use relevant hashtags

Like when posting any type of Instagram content, you should be using relevant hashtags to ensure that your post is not only seen by more people but seen by the right people.

A tip would be to use a mixture of both highly used and less used hashtags. Highly used posts are great as your post will have a higher chance of being seen, but it will be buried quicker meaning that you'll only have a few seconds for it to be seen (much like a Twitter Tweet). Using less used hashtags means that your hashtag will stay at the top of the hashtag feed for longer, though it may be searched for/seen by fewer people in one burst. It's wise to use a combination of these two types of hashtags so that your content is both seen by a high number of people but also in place somewhere where it can be seen continuously.

Beware of the shadowban

Instagram shadowbans are a way that Instagram polices their content - though they largely deny this happening, it's been proven (it has happened to me) that shadowbans are real. A shadowban is when your content doesn't show up in the 'recents' section of the hashtag feed that you've used. For example, I use #bookstagram in my posts and I've since discovered that my posts no longer show in the feed for this hashtag - so they can't be discovered by new people anymore. A post, video or Reel on Instagram may be shadowbanned if you use the same hashtag in all of your posts. It's important to make sure you use different hashtags as much as possible to avoid this.

You can check if your post has been shadowbanned on certain hashtag feeds by posting, and then straight away clicking on the hashtags that you've used in your post. If your post does not show up in the 'recents' feed, then your post has been shadowbanned on this hashtag and you should not use this hashtag for a while. Most have reported that shadowbans last for 14 days, so I would suggest either not posting as much during this time, not using hashtags in your post or not using the specific hashtags that you've been shadowbanned for.