Instagram has been leaning more into its video strategy over the past few years. In July 2022, the app announced that all new videos under 15 minutes will be shared as Instagram Reels. Users were also granted access to Reels editing tools to make videos more engaging.
According to The Sprout Social Index™, consumers find short-form videos 2.5x more engaging than long-form videos. And it’s the most engaging type of in-feed social content, so short-form is definitely a crowd favorite.
With the ability to publish longer videos and consumers’ love of short form video, there’s a lot of Reel-estate for brands to get creative and boost their engagement.
Here are 20 broken down by industry to help you get inspired and improve your video strategy.
Instagram Reel ideas for fashion and retail brands
Since retail and fashion brands are innately about showcasing products in an attractive way, using Reels for marketing feels natural. Push creative boundaries for your brand with these ideas:
1. Promote hot in-store items
Record some clips of your most popular products, like Lost Girls Vintage’s Reel below. Along with showing a hot item, they include a bit more information about the product and the designer.
2. Show the process and a customer reaction
It’s easy to take beautiful photos when you have a physical product, but if you offer a service, take your followers through the process of your service and show the end results with a happy customer.
Alexis Gaines is an Atlanta-based hairstylist who uses this technique often to show the different services she provides. In the Reel below, she uses a time-lapse for a new service and ends the video with a highly satisfied customer.
3. Create fun scenarios to showcase your inventory
Step into your imagination and create scenarios to showcase your inventory. Brainstorming destinations or situations for your inventory could help customers envision themselves using your product, especially if they’re shopping with intention.
In the Reel above, Solo Stove shows a group of friends enjoying a girls night in. The video features the Solo Stove Mesa, which the friends use to make s’mores and other treats. Setting the scene for your customers is a great avenue to demonstrate your products outside of what might typically come to mind.
4. Use video to carry out a social media contest
Give your engagement a boost by creating a social media contest fueled by video.
MeUndies collaborated with creators like Lauren-Ashley Beck to promote their social media contest, #GetSpookywithMe. In the video, Beck shows off her pajamas for a spooky date night inside. The TV host and former Survivor cast member sets the scene with fresh baked cookies, Halloween decorations and more.
Note how the underwear and loungewear brand included all the contest details in the caption. Branded challenges like this engage your audience beyond typical call-to-actions such as likes, comments and shares.
5. Share a fact to showcase your values
Customers are more likely to buy from brands that align with their personal values—it’s 74% more important to consumers than it was in 2021, according to data from The Sprout Social Index™.
Sharing facts about issues your company cares about is an easy, effective way to present your brand values.
Grove Collaborative is an eco-friendly, sustainable household cleaner and personal care brand, so sharing a fact about recycling is a perfect fit. Along with debunking a myth about plastic recycling, Grove Collaborative explained why they switched product packaging to glass and aluminum only.
The brand also used this fact-sharing technique to honor World Mental Health Day. In the video below, a content creator uses Grove Collaborative products to do laundry, sharing fast facts via voiceover and text overlay.
6. Use creators and influencers in clever ways
In early October 2022, Krystal announced the release of their new Side Chik chicken slider. The fast-food brand partnered with influencer Brittney Renner to let customers know they aren’t trying to replace your favorite Southern-style chicken sandwich, they just want to be your Side Chik.
Krystal is headquartered in metro Atlanta, a city known for its entertainment industry. The Side Chik is the first new menu item since rapper 2 Chainz became Krystal’s head of creative marketing. But why add in Reener? Along with her fitness content, Reener gained notoriety for her relationships with rappers and athletes—an aspect of her life that she isn’t shy talking about. In other words, the brand embraced its connection to Atlanta culture to launch the sandwich.
Collaborating can lead to major wins for your brand. But in order for these types of partnerships to be successful, you have to find the right influencers for your business and audience. And Krystal’s clever, tongue in cheek video is a prime example of getting it right.
Instagram Reel ideas for higher education institutions
Feed alumni’s nostalgia with content that makes them reminisce about their college days.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill walks viewers through the Tar Heels’ famous murals and prompts alumni to comment with their favorite masterpiece:
Campus and town tours are a great way to connect with alumni, but they’re also great for getting prospective students excited about coming to campus. This Reel from the University of Georgia not only showcases a beautiful campus, but a student tour guide provides information about why each location is so central to the Dawg Nation:
8. Get cinematic and showcase students
Speaking of the University of Georgia, the institution definitely knows how to tell a great story. In this Reel, the university highlights the unique journey of third-year student, Hayden Swank. With crisp voiceover and picturesque shots, the Reel emulates a documentary.
Its high production quality paired with authentic storytelling makes the Reel a standout, but it’s also a great way to feature current students to prospective students who are still deciding where to continue their education.
9. Engage your students
This idea also uses a social media contest, but instead of the brand choosing the winner, followers vote for their favorite pieces of content.
For example, Indiana University encouraged students to post their best photos and/or videos of campus during the fall. In the caption, IU explains students will vote for their favorite photos and videos on Instagram. Along with IU gear—and we all know college students love freebies—winners get to be featured on the university’s social media.
This technique engages current students over a longer period of time. It also creates a way for prospective students to see some beautiful campus photos and envision themselves there.
10. Offer resources during midterms and finals week
It goes without saying that midterms and finals week are very stressful for college students. Help your student body ease their minds by providing resources, such as free meditation or study snacks.
Arizona State University encouraged students to practice daily mindfulness and self-reflection for #SelfImprovementMonth.
Notice how they point to ASU’s Mindfulness Center Instagram page to provide students with more resources.
Instagram reel ideas for business-to-business brands
Contrary to popular belief, you can use Instagram for B2B brands. Here’s how you can create Reels for your B2B company:
11. Promote an upcoming event
Get your audience pumped up for an upcoming event. Atlanta-based creative agency Chemistry used this technique to promote a workshop for professionals in digital advertising, public relations and media production.
The Reel below features their chief creative officer, Chris Breen, talking about the agency’s clients and sharing his thoughts on the industry.
Chemistry’s video generates interest by previewing the type of valuable thought leadership professionals are looking for within their industry.
12. Showcase brand values and culture in a fun way
Chemistry also uses Reels to showcase the agency’s values and culture. In this video, we’re greeted by Odie for “Dogsplaining with Chemistry.” The adorable pup and friends are seen in the office as Odie explains a core component of Chemistry’s values and culture:
In other words, think outside the box when it comes to illustrating your brand’s culture and values. Chemistry has a dog-friendly office and the Reel itself proves to be another example of the type of creativity the agency produces.
13. Use animation
Use animation to showcase new updates and features for your product. Instagram Reels are lush with videos using strictly photo and video, so animation can help freshen your brand’s feed.
Zoom used animation to announce Zoom Team Chat:
Your animations don’t have to be complex or super detailed. Notice how the animation is simplified, but still mimics what the new feature looks like. In fact, the simpler the animation, the better because they are easier to digest. However, just like editing, animating can take a lot of time and resources so make it easy on your team!
14. Post a satisfying time-lapse
Use time lapses to hook viewers within seconds. Time lapses are easy to shoot and edit, lowering the lift for your brand’s creative and social teams. You’ve probably seen time lapses for cooking videos or murals, but this particular Instagram Reel idea is great for brands with niche audiences too.
Inventables, a computer numerical control (CNC) brand, used a time lapse to promote the launch of their 3D carving:
By showing a piece with intricate details within a short time frame, Inventables illustrates the level of sophistication their product offers.
15. Use a trending sound
Videos are all about visuals, but brands can also lean on sound-driven Reels. When used appropriately, B2B brands can capitalize on trending sounds. For example, Inventables used the “Go Little Rockstar” trend to demonstrate how a small bit can be used to build an impressive sign:
The sound is definitely the star of the show, but the caption is the supporting actor in this scenario because it complements the Reel so well. In the caption copy, Inventables includes two call to action prompts and answers a FAQ. It also captures a story about the featured drill bit in the video. When your brand uses a trending sound in a Reel, consider how you can continue to engage your audience in the caption.
16. Share industry tips with a talking head series
Sharing tips related to your industry shows your brand is aware and gives an opportunity to provide thought leadership.
ClickUp, a project management platform, use their #WorkBestie series to share productivity tips.
For example, in this Reel, Work Bestie talks about the dos and don’t of creating a meeting:
Talking head series are very popular and a great way to showcase your brand’s personality and voice.
17. Participate in seasonal cheer
Holidays are when we connect with our loved ones and create memories. B2B brands can make the most of holiday marketing with festive Reels.
The feature management platform LaunchDarkly posted a Halloween-themed Reel. The post features a jack-o’-lantern animation with LaunchDarkly’s logo on the pumpkin:
Reels like these are another easy way to show off your brand’s personality. Plus, it creates a path for your customer to engage on topics they already enjoy talking about.
Instagram reel ideas for government agencies and nonprofits
Government agencies and nonprofit organizations can also use Reels in creative ways. Here’s some inspiration:
17. Post a recap of an event
Keep your audience up to date by providing coverage of past events. Your followers who attended will enjoy reminiscing and you’ll make others excited for the next event.
Green City Market posted a recap of their annual Chef BBQ festival, featuring dishes, vendor tables and more:
Reel recaps like this one could even lead to more donations and/or funding because it provides memorable visuals to what your brand does.
Instagram Reel ideas for travel / tourism brands
18. Share a #relatable travel frustration
Some of the best social media memes are based on #relatable content. Have you ever purchased in-flight wifi to chat with your friends and family, only to get zero responses?
Well, the travel app, Hopper posted about it:
Customers are looking for brand authenticity on social, so relatable content resonates with many people.
Instagram Reel ideas for healthcare companies
Even the healthcare industry can benefit from using Instagram Reels. Here are a few of our favorite ideas:
19. Spotlight frontline professionals
Place the spotlight on frontline responders who are making a difference. The Grady Health System posted a slideshow of paramedics to celebrate #EMSWeek:
GHS also reposted an old music video featuring paramedics and other frontline partners:
Healthcare professionals face severe challenges every day, so posting light-hearted content like this helps lift their spirits and honor their daily contributions. Besides, who doesn’t love some hometown spirit a-la hit songs?
20. Use ASMR
Along with trending sounds, ASMR videos on Instagram are very popular. The pet insurance brand Figo (yes, we’re counting our furry friends in the healthcare space) used ASMR in the Reel below as a call to action:
As you can see, several people commented with their vote for the best ASMR sound. This Instagram Reel idea is another great example of taking advantage of captions to funnel social traffic to your brand’s website.
Fill up your content calendar with these Instagram Reel ideas
With this list of Instagram Reel ideas, start brainstorming for your brand and get inspired to create more Reels that’ll make your feed stand out.
To learn more about the ins and outs of Instagram, check out our guide on Instagram insights.