A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Reels & How it Differs from IGTV and Video Posts


After many months of testing, Instagram finally launched its Reels feature in the United States. The addition of Reels is just another step in Instagram’s effort to transform itself into the leading multifaceted social media platform. Reels marks Instagram’s third major launch to its platform: Instagram Story was first released in summer 2016 with the IGTV feature being available just 2 years after. Now, Reels is already making headlines with its convenience and innovative ways of elevating one’s video creations. In this blog, we will cover the basics to using Instagram Reels and most importantly, how this feature differs from IGTV and regular video posts on Instagram:

  • What is Instagram Reels

  • Instagram Reels vs. IGTV vs. Regular Video Posts

  • How to Create Instagram Reels

  • How to Share Instagram Reels

  • Watching Instagram Reels

What is Instagram Reels?

The newest feature to be added on Instagram after IGTV, Instagram debuted its “Reels” tool on Wednesday, August 5 to users in the United States. Reels allows users to record and edit short videos that can also be amped up with audio or music soundtracks. Facebook first started testing Reels with users in Brazil in November 2019, before moving onto its release in France, Germany, and India.

What is the Difference Between Instagram Reels, IGTV, and Regular Video Posts?

The launch of Reels beckons a new emphasis on Instagram’s Explore page feature, and inevitably gives rise to the potential of wide exposure for many small influencers just getting started on the platform. See the following table to note the similarities and differences between Instagram Reels, IGTV, and traditional video posts to your feed when it comes to sharing, visibility, time limit, and each of their main takeaways in relation to how influencers can leverage them:

How to Create Instagram Reels

Step 1: Swipe right to open the Instagram camera.

Step 2: Tap the Reels icon at the bottom.

Step 3: Select whatever effects you may want to use from the creative tools on the left side of the screen.

Instagram Reels provides features like different audio from the Instagram Music library, several effects and a timer. If you want to add background music, a song or audio, you can tap on “Audio option” to select songs from the Instagram music library; you can also add AR (Augmented Reality) effects to make your Reel even cooler and more eye-catching. If you need to record your clips hands-fee, you can set the timer, and you can even choose to speed up or slow down part of the video during the editing process. Once the Reel is made, you can share it within Instagram Stories, or via DM (Direct Message) where it will be visible for 24 hours; if instead, you want to permanently publish it you can share on your feed where your followers can always see it.

  • Creative Tools

Audio: Use a song from the Instagram music library as the background music in your video. You can also use your own audio clip by recording a reel with it. When the reel with the original audio by you is shared, others can also use the same audio clip you created by tapping on “Use Audio” on your reel.

AR Effects: This feature includes different filters, angles, and special effects that you can also include in your reel. AR Effects are designed both by Instagram and creators around the globe.

Timer and Countdown: Use this feature to record your reel hands-free. Set the timer, and set your phone down facing you to begin recording after a 3-2-1 countdown. This feature is especially helpful when you are trying to record yourself from a distance or with other people in the video.

Align: Create the infamous transition in your reel by using this feature to line up objects from your previous clip before recording your next. This will help create seamless transitions to welcome in moments like outfit changes, adding your friends to the video, or when you are trying to create a more cinematic-like reel.

Speed: Speed up or down a part of your video or audio you select yourself. Record the first clip by pressing and holding the capture button. You’ll see a progress indicator at the top of the screen as you record. Stop recording to end each clip.

Sharing Your Reel

The way you share your finished video clip depends on the type of account you have:

  • Public account: When you share your reel, it automatically is uploaded to a section in Instagram explore, and also provides you with the option of sharing it to your followers so it comes up in their feed.

  • Private account: You can share your reel so that only your followers will see the video. Because your account is on private, people will not be able to use your original audio clip, and people also cannot share the reels you create with others who do not already follow you.

After your reel is shared, it will be live on a separate Reels tab visible on your Instagram profile, in between the grid and IGTV icons. If you choose to share the reel to your followers, it will also appear under the grid icon, and show up on your main feed, along with the rest of your posts, though you will have the option to remove it.

Regardless of the privacy settings of your account, you can share your reels to your Story (including close friends Story), or in a direct message to both individual users or in a group message.

How to Watch Instagram Reels

There are many different ways to watch Instagram Reels, depending on what type of Instagram account you own and whether or not you have previously uploaded your own video using Reels.

  • The most common way to watch these videos is tapping on the Explore page at the bottom (symbolized by the magnifying glass icon along the bottom of your screen), and the Reels should already be at the top of the page. Simply click it open, and begin swiping through videos. Instagram automatically filters videos based on what content you like, what your friends or people you follow like, and essentially predict the videos that best match your interests and hobbies.

  • Another way to watch Reels videos is if you already follow someone who has been using the Reels feature. In this case, simply tap on the Reels icon in the bottom left corner of the video already in your feed, and it’ll take you to the Reels section where you can begin swiping through the videos.

  • Lastly, if you’ve already posted a Reels video, you can watch other people’s Reels by tapping on your profile page and clicking the Reels icon.


At the end of the day, Instagram Reels should come as celebratory news for small influencers looking to get started with their public platform. With its default of uploading to the infamous Explore page, Instagram is looking to give influencers the opportunity to be exposed to an audience with diverse interests, making this the perfect opportunity for influencers who are just starting out.

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