Why You Should Make Instagram Reels for Bookstagram

If you've opened up Instagram any time in the last month or so, you've probably seen that they've added a new feature called Reels -- which is a way of creating 15-second video clips with your choice of optional music playing in the background. Basically, it's a TikTok knockoff and we all know it :P

You can share Reels to your feed and/or your stories. Reels also have a dedicated section on the Explore page, which means that you can scroll through endless Reels much like TikTok's "for you" page.

I was never on TikTok, but I loved watching the TikToks that people sent me, so I was excited to try out Reels. I've made a few of them since they first came out, and I think I'll be making a lot more in the future. Cause here's the thing: not only are they fun, but Reels can help you grow your account like crazy!

Why Should You Make Reels for Your Bookstagram?

Well, if nothing else, Reels are a lot of fun to make (at least, I think so). I like creating little skits and making people laugh, and Reels are a good way to do that.

However, I'll be the first to admit that Reels aren't that easy to use, which puts a lot of people off making them. But I suspect that this might actually make Reels even more lucrative than they would be otherwise.

Allow me to dive into a little conspiracy theory for a moment. Instagram has obviously been working on the Reels feature for a while, but I suspect that they launched it before it was totally ready so they could capitalize on the questions swirling around about whether TikTok would get banned in the United States. As a result, it doesn't have as many features as TikTok, and it's kinda clunky to use.

The interface might put you off from trying Reels out, but think about it this way: if people are discouraged from posting on Reels because of the clunky interface, there's less competition for you. That means your Reels have a better chance of being boosted by the algorithm!

And the almighty algorithm is the main reason why I would advise bookstagrammers to at least give Reels a try. According to anecdotal evidence, publishing Reels might actually help you to get on the algorithm's good side. I've heard rumors swirling around that Instagram's algorithm penalizes you for not posting Reels, but I don't have any real evidence for that, so take this information with a dollop of salt.

What I do have evidence for is that Reels can help more people discover your account. I've published five Reels so far over the past couple of weeks, and here's what I've discovered:
  1. My Reels get more overall likes than my regular Feed posts, and they keep getting likes for a longer period of time. A Reel I posted over two weeks ago still gets consistent likes and comments even today.
  2. Most of my Reels get more likes in a matter of days than anything I've ever posted on Instagram, largely from people who don't follow me already. This suggests that Instagram's algorithm is showing that Reel to a bunch of people (if you want concrete numbers, my most popular photo on Instagram to date has 567 likes. By contrast, my most popular Reel, which I posted four days ago, just broke 2,000 likes today).
  3. My most popular Reel currently has 42,500 views!
  4. My Reels have led to ... I wouldn't say a surge of new followers, but definitely more new followers than normal.
  5. Instagram says that you'll get a notification if your Reel gets "featured," which means they pick out some Reels that they show to a TON of people on the Explore page. I haven't gotten one of these notifications, which suggests that my Reels are popular just because the algorithm smiles on Reels in general.
Of course, your mileage may vary. But at the end of the day, you don't really have anything to lose by posting Reels, and you might just get a load of engagement into the bargain. But what do you actually post on Reels?

What to Post on Instagram Reels for Your Bookstagram

Reels are surprisingly versatile, and there are a ton of ways to involve books in these short videos. Many traditional bookstagram and booktube activities carry over very nicely to Reels, such as:
  • Book hauls
  • Shelfies/bookshelf tours
  • Book tags (where you take the audio from another tag Reel and display your own books as answers to the tag's prompts)
  • Unboxings
  • Book reviews
  • Reading wrap-ups
I've also seen people post content similar to the photos they might usually post on Instagram, but with some kind of moving element and music playing in the background.

However, for my Reels, I like to make short skits. Lots of other bookstagrammers do this too, and each one has their own unique style, but here's how I tend to do it:
  • I choose a song that has a lyric I can use as a punchline
  • I film a scenario related to books and reading that ends on that punchline
Shameless plug: if you've never seen my Reels and want to find out what they're like in practice, go give them a watch on my Instagram page @looseleafellie :D

There are several best practices that I think apply to most Reels, so here are some of my tips:

Best Practices for Making Reels

  1. A phone tripod will make your life way easier, especially if you're attempting a fancy transition or something.
  2. I strongly suggest posting your Reels to your Feed as well as just the explore page. This will make sure the maximum number of people see your post.
  3. If your account has a carefully curated theme (like mine does), you can still post Reels to your feed without ruining your aesthetic -- just add a cover photo that matches your theme! Be aware that the top and sides tend to get cropped a little, so make sure that any important visuals are dead center.
  4. Add a caption and hashtags like you would with a normal post. This will help engage people and might make sure even more people see it.
  5. If you're using background music, pick a song that is either popular or fits perfectly with your Reel (ideally both). If the song in question isn't popular and it doesn't relate to the actual video very well, it's probably a good idea to pick something different.

These are the latest six posts in my Instagram feed, two of which are Reels. As you can see, it's totally possible to post Reels to your main feed without messing up your theme :)

Final Thoughts

I don't know exactly how long this whole Reels boom will last for, and it's entirely possible that the algorithm won't reward people as much in the future. As much as I'd love for all my Reels to get tens of thousands of views and thousands of likes forever and ever, I'm keeping my expectations managed.

Still, that doesn't mean we can't capitalize on a trend while it lasts. So if you've been debating whether or not to give Reels a try, I say there's no better time than the present!

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