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Episode #31: THIS is why your Reels aren't working

In 2022, Reels already made up 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram and it has become pretty clear that they are here to stay. A lot of business owners, however, dread filming their first Reel or haven't seen great results. YET. Let's change that with this blog post!

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Ever since Instagram launched Reels in the Summer of 2020 (yep, Reels are almost turning two years old), they have become a very popular format on Instagram. A lot of business owners have already tapped into Reels but there are also many who haven't dared to jump on the Reels bandwagon yet. If you are still doubting whether Reels should be a part of your content strategy, then let me show you a few interesting insights on Reels:

  • In the first quarter of 2022, Reels made up more than 20% of the time that people spent on Instagram. If we have a look at Facebook, already 50% of the time is spent by consuming video content. (TechCrunch, 2022)

  • 91% of active Instagram users watch videos on Instagram at least once a week. (SproutSocial, 2022)

  • Between 2019 and 2022, the average Instagram feed post engagement rate has dropped dramatically from around 5.5% for carousel posts to about 2.5%. The only engagement that has increased is that on Reels. (Later, 2022)

Mostly, when I talk to business owners who haven't done any Reels yet, it's because they're either not sure what videos they should be making, they are intimidated by the editing process or the fact that they have to film themselves and actually be on camera. Others might have seen bigger creators or Instagram gurus that have videos go viral and when they post their own first Reel, they get 12 views.

3 Reels mistakes you should avoid making:

With this blog post, I want to give you a headstart and tell you a few mistakes that I see businesses make when it comes to Reels, so that you can skip ahead and avoid making them in the first place. These are all mistakes that I frequently see on Instagram that will cost you views.

1) You don't know where/how Reels fit into your content strategy:

This is probably the biggest mistake because if you don't know what role Reels play in your content strategy, you will end up wasting a lot of time on filming, editing, and posting and not see any results at all.

Reels are a fantastic tool to reach new audiences. When Reels first came out, and basically ever since, Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram) has emphasized that they want to help you to discover new content and people that you aren't following yet. Reels are one of the priorities of Instagram right now, so it only makes sense that they have the main focus of showing you new people. If you scroll through the Reels tab, you will see that 90% of the content is from people that you aren't following yet. You will also see that the follow button is very prominently positioned so that you can immediately follow someone after you have watched their reel. This is a good indicator for you that content that will make people want to hit that follow button right away will do well.

Reels are really good for that top-of-funnel activity so that people can discover you and give you a follow. This is something that we dive into deeper in The Profitable Instagram Academy, if you want to learn more about the different types of content & their functions in a content strategy.

2) Your videos are low quality:

When I talk about low quality, I mean grainy, badly-lit, blurry, or shaky videos.

The algorithm will always boost videos that are high quality over those that aren't which is why it is so important to create videos that look good. While you might benefit from an upgrade in terms of equipment, it will not always be necessary. Sometimes, a change in lighting can already make a big difference. I always recommend using a ring light, but if you don't have one or you don't want to invest in one, recording in front of a big window will do the trick as well.

Another tip: Try to record with your main, bigger camera and not with your front camera. The front camera usually has less megapixels and will decrease the quality of your video.

3) You are only focusing on trends:

For the longest while, everyone who was doing Reels basically just did trends. But now, that it's changing.

What is a trend?

A trend is a video that you make with a particular audio or concept that lots and lots of people recreate for their niche. Every single week, you will see different trends pop up. Mostly, they first start out on TikTok and a few weeks later, they move on to Reels.

Here are a few examples of recent trends:

  • The "Things people have told me after they heard I am a ...." trend: The idea of this trend is to mention a few (maybe controversial or shocking) things that people have really said to you. Here's my take on this trend.

  • The "Things that just make sense" trend: The idea here was to show a few things that just make sense in your home office, your house, at your job,...This trend featured Italian music, so I couldn't resist filming a video for it too: here's mine.

  • The "What's something you'll get a lot of hate for if you say it out loud?" trend: For this trend, you need to think of something rather controversial in your niche. Again, here's my take on this trend.

While a trend can be really fun and it can match your niche perfectly, you also always risk being a copycat of someone else. When I scroll the Reels tab, I often see the same video over and over again. And while there are different people in each video, they are all kind of the same. If you want to stand out in your niche as an expert, blending in with everyone else is just not the way to go.

Also, Instagram now focuses more on pushing out original content. Trends are a little bit of a gray zone here. If you wanna play it safe and enjoy that extra push for original content, you should limit the use of trends in your strategy.

What's the alternative to doing trendy Reels?

There are lots and lots of things you can do. I would strongly recommend that you scroll through the Reels tab and try to find content that is not a trend and that you enjoy to get inspiration from.

Some Reels ideas you could use this week:

  • Tell your audience 3 tips that are relevant to your niche in a talking head video.

  • Record a time-lapse of yourself while you work and add some relevant text (for example, a tip or reminder for your audience).

  • Start a series that is relevant to your niche where you give tips on a specific topic. For example, the lovely Carole over at @thedigitalbuzz started a series called "Run your Instagram like a CEO" where she gives tips for business owners on how to run their Instagram effectively.

  • Document your day and put it together into a mini-vlog.

  • Talk about a new update in your niche.

The possibilities are endless if you keep an open mind and if you let your creativity flow!

I hope that these tips were helpful and I really, really hope that you now find the motivation to film your first Reel. If you do, please let me know! I'd love to see it and I promise I will be your biggest cheerleader!

Talk soon,


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