Instagram Reels for Churches – Why It’s So Important

Brady Shearer
Brady Shearer
Oct 23, 2020
·
8
min read

Instagram is at it again! Reels marks the latest major release by the Facebook-owned social platform.

Reels aims to capitalize on the rise of short-form video content popularized by TikTok.

The big question for you though is: what can Instagram Reels offer your church?

Here’s the bottom line:

Instagram Reels is an opportunity for your church to dramatically increase its organic reach on one of the largest social platforms in the world. This is incredibly rare. And will only last for a short period of time.

How do you take advantage of this?

Keep reading.

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What Is Instagram Reels?

Attention is short on social and we’re seeing social platforms cater to that trend. TikTok has seen incredible success with short video formats and Reels is Instagram’s response.

Here’s what you need to know about Instagram Reels:

  • Up to 30-second videos that can be set to music
  • If you are familiar with TikTok at all it’s a very similar idea
  • One of the key differences between the two is length (TikTok currently allows for up to 60 seconds)
  • You may not have every Instagram Reels feature currently available to you immediately (this is normal for Instagram when releasing new features – so don’t fret – and don’t use that as an excuse to wait!)

Why is Instagram Reels worth my time?

So what makes Reels different compared to every other feature Instagram has to offer?

Discoverability.

Instagram is a very saturated platform. And reaching new people is not easy. Reels is the exception. Because much like TikTok, the algorithm is designed to help you discover new content and new creators.

And this presents a massive opportunity for churches.

Here’s why:

There are basically two kinds of social media platforms in the world:

  1. Established Platforms
  2. Emerging Platforms

Established Platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

We like Established Platforms because they are massively popular. And broadly representative of the general population.

We get frustrated with Established Platforms because, due to their size, reaching new people is difficult.

On the other hand, we have Emerging Platforms – like TikTok.

We like Emerging Platforms because it’s much easier to reach new people (with TikTok especially, there’s an element of predictable virality).

We get frustrated with Emerging Platforms, because the user base is small. Perhaps more importantly, users on these platforms are usually not broadly representative of the general population – instead, they often skew much younger.

Instagram Reels (the rare exception)

Reels is the rare convergence of both an Established Platform and an Emerging Platform – where the best of both worlds collide.

With Reels, you get the growth potential of an Emerging Platform, paired with the audience size of an Established Platform.

And so, and I cannot say this emphatically enough…

DO. NOT. WAIT.

Start creating Reels content now. Because social opportunities like this are incredibly rare.

My own results after using Reels for two weeks

I’ve seen firsthand how powerful Reels can be. Below, you’ll see my Instagram’s (@bradyshearer) growth analytics after just two weeks of taking Reels seriously! 👇

Instagram Reels growth metrics.
Instagram Reels growth metrics

So what exactly did I do? I posted new Reels three times per week.

And just look at the huge increase in impressions.

The numbers above are showing that I’ve reached nearly 2X as many accounts on Instagram as I did in the previous week. And that’s all coming from Reels and it’s baked-in discoverability.

Instagram wants Reels to succeed and it knows the secret behind TikTok’s success has been its algorithm – so if Instagram wants to replicate that success, their algorithm has to treat creators similarly.

Now, Impressions is great and all, but how has that translated to account growth?

Since diving into Reels, my follower count is growing at about 3% each week. Normally, my follower count grows by about 3% each month. So a considerable increase.

Another benefit of this?

(and this might be what I’m most excited about with Reels if I’m truly honest)

Now, I can create a single 15-30 second video and publish it to both Reels and TikTok.

Create once. Publish twice.

Work smarter, not harder 👇

  • Create 15-30 second piece of content
  • Publish to both Reels and TikTok
  • Use free time to drink an extra cup of coffee

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My Instagram Reels 7-Part Formula

Let’s now talk about the kind of content you should be posting to Reels and how to make it work for you (my personal process!).

There are seven parts 7️⃣

  1. Batch produce
  2. Write a script
  3. Record a voiceover
  4. Intro with a title
  5. Group into series
  6. Hashtags
  7. Custom cover

Let’s briefly hit on each element individually.

#1: Batch produce

Generally, I record three Reels at a time.

One thing I love about creating Reels (compared to other kinds of videos) is how fast they are to produce. Because thirty seconds is not a long time. So creating a trio of thirty-second videos doesn’t take very long either.

#2: Write a script

Each Reels script I prepare is 100 words or fewer.

Now you might be wondering – why write a script for such a short video?

My answer:

For Reels to be effective, you cannot afford to waste a single word and that demands a script. So for me, it is *because* of the short time limit that I feel compelled to script out every word.

In the past, I’ve used a teleprompter to record my Reels (this is part of my existing workflow for YouTube videos, so it just made sense). If you don’t have a teleprompter handy or prefer not to use one, a 100-word script is small enough that you can memorize it in chunks and record that way.

Or, just record voiceovers as I do now…

#3: Record a voiceover

For the most part, I record my script separately as a voiceover and then overlay video on top of it. I find this makes the creation process a bit easier and produces a style of video that I like and think is enjoyable to watch.

Below you’ll find a finished Reels to see what this looks like when it all comes together (pardon the distorted cover photo – Instagram’s embed code doesn’t seem to have caught up with their 9×16 aspect ratio Reels):

#4: Intro with title

Because of the Reels algorithm and its baked-in discoverability, I know many people will stumble upon my Reels and have no idea who I am.

So I need to build a rapport with new viewers – and fast.

Here’s how I do this:

  • Make sure my smiling/funny-looking face is in the first frame of the video to create a human connection
  • Display the title of the video within the first second to preview the video’s subject matter, thus giving a new viewer the choice of whether they wish to commit or keep swiping

#5: Group Reels into series

Currently, my most popular Reels series is Editing Your Church Photos.

And what’s great about a series is that when someone stumbles upon your video and gets introduced to you for the first time, if they like your Reels, it stands to reason they would want to see more content that’s similar.

Grouping your videos into series’ makes this even more likely. Because if someone stumbles onto a Reels of yours titled How To Read The Bible, Part 3 they very well may be inclined to head to your profile to see parts one and two.

#6: Hashtags

Hashtags is where the bulk of your discoverability comes from on Reels. So don’t do all the work of creating your Reels and then publish them without hashtags.

And if you’re curious, I put my hashtags right in the caption of the Reels post (not in the first comment).

Hashtags is where the bulk of your discoverability comes from on Reels.
Hashtags is where the bulk of your discoverability comes from on Reels

#7: Custom cover

A nice feature of Reels that TikTok doesn’t currently have is the ability to upload your own cover from your camera roll – instead of being forced to use a frame from the video itself.

For those that are obsessive with how their Instagram feed looks and don’t want to mess that up by putting Reels in their feed – you will certainly appreciate this feature.

Still here? Make sure to follow me on Instagram @bradyshearer for more Reels content!

What does the future look like?

I know the question that’s inevitably on your mind – will Instagram Reels supplant TikTok?

It’s impossible to say.

I’m also not in the habit of making predictions about social media – there’s way too much opportunity right now to take advantage of that I have zero interest in speculating on what’s to come.

Here’s what I do know though:

Short-form video is here to stay. Educating, motivating, and entertaining folks through 15-60 second videos has been cemented as a permanent social media construct just like Stories did five years ago.

And the sooner you’re able to embrace it, the better.

Because it ain’t going anywhere.

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