I’d love to preface this blog post by acknowledging the fact that social media can be just plain overwhelming. Same for me - you’re not alone here! There’s always another feature, a change in algorithm, a drop in engagement, a switch in what helps your account, etc. etc. etc.
However, I sense a shift here with Instagram and I think the biggest, most important thing you can do on the platform is to provide value. So much value that it almost makes you feel uncomfortable… like you’re giving away all your secrets!
Now, depending on your type of pet business, this can look very different (dog walkers may not be able to provide specific value from their services like a dog trainer could). That being said, there are still ways to provide value for your audience.
One of the newest methods of producing content on Instagram is through Instagram Reels. Now, one thing still to be true to Instagram is that the more you use their new features, the more you’ll be rewarded in the ‘algorithm.’
Because it’s daunting to learn yet another feature (we already had Stories and IGTV), I put together the beginner guide to Instagram Reels for your pet business. That way, you can get started easily and hey, you may even enjoy it!
I’ll be honest. My first reaction to Reels was frustration and overwhelm. BUT, when I sat down to try it and create a few Reels, I actually had fun, which is something I haven’t said about Instagram lately. So it feels good to enjoy the platform again.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
First things first… What is Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels is one of the new ways to create 15- to 30-second videos on Instagram in a unique, relatable, and entertaining way. It seemed to be inspired by TikTok, the viral app that was gaining popularity and had a similar concept. However, for us out there who didn’t want a completely separate app to market their business, Instagram Reels is now a way for us to produce these ‘TikTok type’ videos but remain on the Instagram platform.
Why should I care or use it for my pet business?
Video is the way of marketing at this point in time, at least on social media. If you scroll through your feed, you tell me how many of them are videos vs. still images. Also, tell me the engagement results for videos vs. still images. Videos are getting more traction, more engagement, and more weight in the ‘algorithm.’ Instagram LIKES when you use their new features. But, I also think people love watching fun and quick engaging videos, too!
What kinds of content can I share on Reels?
This depends on your type of pet business, but I thought I’d share some getting started ideas for all types of pet businesses as well as break it down by different types:
4 things you didn’t know about X
An introduction to you and/or your pet business
The #1 question you get asked (& answer it)
A compilation of your portfolio or clients
Behind the scenes videos
The difference between X & Y
Bust myths & show facts
Share secrets (The 3 Secrets to X)
Anything that makes you relateable - things dog owners would get, etc.
Dog walkers & pet sitters:
Showcase a before and after video of a dog that’s been with your business for years (show the puppy transition video)
Create a compilation of the messiest cleanups you’ve had to do for a humor Reel
Outline the steps of working with you & how easy it is to get started
Show the different harnesses or leashes and which ones you recommend & why
Do a behind the scenes transition of working with a new client to see the transformation
Give away lots and lots of training tips that people can implement for quick wins (from simple tricks to loose-leash walking or separation anxiety)
Give recommendations for your favorite resources
Outline the things to bring to a photoshoot
Record the funny things dogs do when you try to take their picture
Showcase your portfolio
Talk about health tips for your most popular vet visits (over many Reels)
Outline the difference between different flea medications
Interview each vet in the office to introduce them to your community
Tell a story or show a transformation before and after surgery
Show a transformation before and after video
Speed up the process of the groom, so people can see how much work is involved
Talk about the difference between a Dremel and clippers
In essence, Reels are meant to be an entertaining way of sharing content, whether it’s for the pure enjoyment of the video OR if you’re sharing educational content. It’s also a great way to showcase products if you’re a pet product business or your portfolio if you’re a photographer or designer!
How to create your first Instagram Reel
(as of the writing of this on November 3, 2020)
Step 1: Head to your Instagram profile and click the + icon in the top left corner & tap Reel.
Step 2: On the left, you’ll see a variety of editing tools for you in the following order:
The 15: This allows you to change the time limit from 15 seconds to 30 seconds if you prefer a longer video
Music: Only some Instagram accounts have this feature (no worries if you don’t - there are other ways to add music! - mine still doesn’t have the music feature)
Play button: This allows you to change up the speed of the recording from .3x to 3x
The face: This allows you to add effects to your Reel
Timer: If you want a countdown timer before you start recording, use this!
When you’re ready to record, simply hold down the lower center button. As you record, you’ll see a line at the top which shows you how much time you have left in relation to the 15- or 30-second allotment you set. You can record in a series of clips OR you can do one long clip. You can upload previously recorded videos as well.
Note: If you prefer to do the recording separately from Instagram or your account doesn’t have music, but you WANT music, I suggest downloading the InShot app. It’s free and allows you to upload different videos and compile it into the length of video you want. It also allows you to add music to your video. Once you’re done and export your video to your phone, you can simply upload it as a previously recorded video to your Instagram Reel.
Step 3: Once you add your video(s) to your Reel, it’s time to hit the next button. This will repeatedly play your video, which means it’s time to add in your text captions. DEFINITELY include text captions on all videos for those that have words (not everyone wants to listen with the sound on). You can add captions similar to Instagram Stories by tapping on the screen.
Note: Be sure to set the text in a place where people can see it when NOT fully clicked in Reels. For example, if you’re scrolling through your normal feed, it will look like a square (not a tall Instagram Story). So, if you have text on a Story that doesn’t fit into that square, it will be cut off, so be sure to place the text in a place where people can read it straight from their feed.
Step 4: Add in different text sections for different sections of the video, if applicable. If you tap on the little text box at the bottom of your screen, you can adjust for when you want this caption to show. That’s how you get different text boxes to show up at different times throughout your Reel. Once you’re done with this, hit the next arrow in the bottom right corner.
Step 5: Time to get it ready for publishing! Be sure to add in a caption here to explain your video, add any additional information that wasn’t included in your short video, and still add hashtags! Be sure to also add a cover image if you want/need a professional look to your Reels - You can create this in Canva for free! I recommend keeping the ‘Also Share to Feed’ toggle on so that it shows up in both your Reels AND your main feed, but you can always turn certain ones off if you prefer.
Note: If you’re not completely done with the caption or Reel, but need to get to a dog walk or meeting, you can save the Reel as a draft here!
Does this need to replace the traditional Instagram Post? How often do I need to be posting them?
It doesn’t replace your traditional Instagram Post; however, you don’t have to keep up with the same amount of Instagram posts if you’re also posting Reels. If you’re focused on providing tons of value in your Reels, you may see way better results using Reels and overall posting less than you would have originally. When first getting started, don’t put too much stress on it - start with 1 a week and see how you like it and what results you get.
My best advice?
Play around with it. Tap on every single button and every feature to get used to the functionality and interface. That way, when you go to create your first Reel, you can simply enjoy the process! I also recommend looking at some of your favorite brands to see how they’re using Reels for inspiration. There are endless possibilities in terms of the content you can put out there with Reels, but in general, just make sure it’s providing value to your audience whether that’s in the form of education, entertainment, humor, etc.
And of course, check out our newest Reels here.
You can also use these blog topic ideas below for inspiration on your reels!