April 19, 2024

Unleashing your creative narrative: How to use Instagram Reels to tell compelling brand stories

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-black-iphone-7-5053738/

By Eva Camacho 

Short-form video has risen in popularity on social media. Many social platforms are short-form video-based or include subsections such as TikTok, YouTube shorts, Instagram Reels and Facebook Reels. Understanding how to use these tools can help you decide how you want to connect personally with your audience on social media. This blog will guide you through Instagram specifically and how to use Instagram Reels to tell a compelling story. 

Stories in video form are a powerful way to connect with an audience. Commercials and other videos that tell a story are often much more memorable than exclusively informational videos—according to the Harvard Business Review, creating emotional connections results in real economic growth for businesses. Videos can serve the same purpose on social media so long as you understand the tools needed to create them. 

Social media is naturally a visually led platform. Most posts include photos and or videos, so what makes Reels different? Instagram Reels vary in length from about 15 to 90 seconds and can appear both on your grid and in the reels section of your profile. Once posted, Instagram shares the reel with your follower’s feed and the reels section of Instagram. How to create a reel is detailed here. On Instagram, Reels allow for more editing tools and artistic license than posts or stories alone. The creative freedom offered by reels creates more opportunities to customize your video and, thus, your story. 

Intentional stories can help your Reel stand out from others. Having a key message or theme helps keep the audience engaged. Utilize emotional elements to create personal ties from your story to your audience. Audiences look for connection points in the media, and having an emotional element can help maintain your audience’s interest. Genuine connection through personal storytelling, activism, and shared interests are all ways brands can connect with stories through reels. 

Visual elements and narrative flow are essential in maintaining an audience’s interest when creating reels. Creating a storyboard can help your reel become more polished and professional. Popular music, narration, and additional visual elements can help a reel stand out. It’s also important to note that audiences watch short-form videos for fast and easy entertainment. If your video is too long, your audience may not stay engaged. 

On April 22, Instagram collaborated with the creator Tolmeia Gregory to share a reel for Earth Day. The reel contained messaging about the importance of climate activism, which is an emotional tie, and various visual elements Tolmeia created as an illustrator. The partnership with Tolmeia, a known activist, helps position Instagram as a climate supporter, thus creating a key message. This reel is an excellent example of a short story with a key message, compelling visuals, and a narrative flow. 

When utilized intentionally, Instagram Reels present a valuable opportunity to convey brand narratives in a short, visually engaging platform. By mindfully crafting your story and visuals and establishing a personal connection with your audience, you can foster enhanced trust in your brand.

About the author: 

Eva Camacho is a senior majoring in Journalism: Public Relations at the University of Oregon. Connect with her on LinkedIn here

3 thoughts on “Unleashing your creative narrative: How to use Instagram Reels to tell compelling brand stories

  1. I was very drawn to this topic because I find Instagram Reels fascinating. I could spend hours scrolling due to how much they tend to draw people in. Aside from their addictive features, I think brands have the potential to capitalize off of how easy it is to go viral through short video posts. They are seen at much higher levels than typical posts, and often provide more information. Definitely the future of online marketing.

  2. Great post. I spend hours a day on TikTok and some watching Instagram Reels. I appreciated the insight, as I haven’t spent time figuring out what makes individual videos popular. Would there be any difference between what would make a video popular on TikTok and what it would on Reels? Since they seem similar?

  3. Hi Eva, I really liked your post! I think short-form videos will dominate all platforms since they’re accessible and entertaining enough to be impactful compared to carousels and YT minute long videos.

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