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Instagram Reels – The ultimate guide

Instagram Reels - The ultimate guide

With our ever-diminishing attention span we are always lucky to have another social media avenue to venture down. The latest in this continuous parade of sensory stimulating platforms is called Instagram Reels. And Reels is aimed at about as short an attention span as can be coaxed: 15 seconds or less. So put down Moby Dick, even a Disney movie is going to be too long for this ride, let’s get down with Reels!

But wait. Why do we need Reels if we already have TikTok? Well, the answer is, you don’t, but let’s get into what Instagram Reels is and what it has to bring to the table.

What Is Instagram Reels?

Reels is a way to create, edit, and share your super exciting, engaging, and fun evoking videos. So, yes, it is just like TikTok.  And, depending on whether you have a public or private account you can either share your videos with just your followers or with a wider Instagram audience through a space in Explore. So, one has the option to keep it “local” or go “global” with their content.

What Do I Do?

First things first, click on the Instagram camera. Then, at the bottom of the screen, click on REELS. Displayed on the left-hand side of the screen will be four editing tools.

“What are the editing tools?”

“I’m glad you asked.”

There are four symbols to choose from. The first is a musical note, which would, hopefully lead one to believe that if they were to click on it then there would be some sort of music selection to choose from.

“Guess what?”


“There is a lot of music to choose from.”


So, the deal is, is that you can use one of the songs from the Instagram music library or you can use original compositions, which will then in turn be available for other Reelists (I just came up with this one, so if it catches on I get the credit) by selecting “Use Audio” from your masterpiece.  You will get authorship credit for the music, even though it will be public Instagram domain and you won’t see any royalties. 

The second symbol is a play/pause button that allows you to manipulate the different speeds of your video from slow to normal to fast. Whatever state of motion you choose to be in is available.

The third symbol is a happy face with two little stars drifting out of the top of the head. My first thought when I saw this was that possibly the happy face was intoxicated. I pressed the symbol expecting something life altering, but it just said effects. I was a little disappointed, but after perusing the various choices I understood why the happy face was in such a good mood.  It is virtual stimulation and not chemical alteration. A bit confusing to the novice, but now that I know my misconceptions are gone.

The last symbol on the left is that of a stopwatch. Hmm, I thought, does this have something to do with working out? I started to sweat. My finger was shaky as it slowly approached the cartoonlike watch. I gritted my teeth and pressed it. And to my relief it was not some muscled up dude yelling at me. It was, in fact, a timer and countdown, which allows the user to record clips hands-free. Phew, that is much better than some reps and a run around the track.

Final Editing for Instagram Reels

Your reel is ready to go. So, where to next? It is time for the ever-dreaded share screen. This is the final editing stage. Here you can chicken out and save your draft or you can put on the final touches by changing the cover image, tagging your friends, adding a caption, or taking your first steps into stardom with some hashtags. 

All ready?


Let’s post this sucker.


reel shared!

Everybody loves it. You feel good, they feel good, and the world is a slightly better place.

But wait, where does it go to now. Does it windup in some sad looking garbage can with flies buzzing around? Don’t worry it does not. It just goes in a separate Reels tab on your profile.

You are ready now. There is much reeling to do. It is time to get down to creating and watching. You can delete TikTok, because why do you need two places where you can watch short, engaging videos. Sorry TikTok there is a new kid in town, but they are actually an old kid, who we’ve all known for a while.

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