Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Best Practices for Reels and Stories

Best Practices for Reels and Stories

Social networks frequently change features offered and which ones will receive more attention. The most recent shift in focus is an emphasis on Reels and Stories for Facebook and Instagram. Reels is Meta’s attempt to compete with popular TikTok short videos and the Reels feature on both Instagram and Facebook function in similar ways to its largest competitor. The Stories format is similar to Snapchat’s Snaps.

Producing and publishing more Reels and Stories instead of basic Posts can help increase the visibility of your content. While companies like Meta will still limit your post reach in order to convince you to pay for advertising, they’ve invested a lot in Stories and Reels technology and encourage creators to produce more content in these formats, particularly Reels.

What’s the difference between Reels and Stories? Stories are mostly shown to your current followers. Reels are more likely to be shown beyond your followers so can be helpful in getting discovered.

Stories appear on the top of the Facebook and Instagram apps and website and are typically 15 seconds long. Reels increased from 60 seconds to 90 seconds long on both Instagram and Facebook. By comparison, TikTok videos can be up to 10 minutes long.

Here are some tips to producing effective Stories and Reels.

  1. Go Vertical. While most posts can support horizontal and square videos, Stories and Reels are formatted to favor vertical images at 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels tall, an aspect ratio 9:16. If you upload videos formatted in other dimensions, Stories and Reels will automatically resize to fit which could cut off parts of your video or reduce the size of it.
  2. Use Trending Sounds. TikTok videos popularized reusing other people’s audio tracks including comedy sketches and funny sounds. Reels includes this feature, and using trending sounds can give your Reel a boost in visibility, particularly on the page that shows recent videos using that particular sound. The same holds true for trending music.
  3. Use a Template. If design is not your forte and you don’t have a professional graphic designer on hand to create your Stories or Reels, try using design templates that are already sized for the format and can include professional-looking layouts. There are many free templates available online on a variety of design and marketing sites including Canva.
  4. Use on-screen captions. Reels and Stories both have a feature where you can add captions if there is dialogue in your videos. The captioning process happens automatically, and captions can be edited. Double-check the accuracy of the transcription before publishing it. You can also modify the caption font. Captions are especially useful if people have the sound on their devices turned down or off.
  5. Cross-share Reels and Stories. If you’ve created a Story that you’d like to share more widely, you can convert it to a Reel. Conversely, if you have a Reel that you’d like to repost in a different place, you can share it as a Story. Repurposing your Facebook and Instagram content in this fashion creates more opportunities for exposure. You can also share regular Posts to Stories for an extra boost.
  6. Add Hashtags. Both Stories and Reels support hashtags but in different ways. The hashtag sticker on Stories only allows one hashtag, however, you can also add more using the Text feature. Otherwise, choose your one hashtag wisely. The sticker choice on Reels is limited and does not include the hashtag sticker. For Reels, please your hashtags in the Reel caption after your message, just as you do on regular Instagram posts. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, although you should be selective about which ones you use. Hashtags aren’t as useful on Facebook so you may want to only use a few.

Whether you’re posting Stories, Reels, or both, take advantage of the creative editing and embellishment features on both Facebook and Instagram to get the most out of both formats.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman