So many school communicators feel like they just got their heads wrapped around Facebook – and now you’re told that you also have to make Instagram Reels a priority! While every district is going to be different, it’s worth considering Reels as a means to create connections with your community – especially with your students.
Listen to my full conversation with Megan over on the podcast!
Why Use Instagram Reels
Megan’s mission when she started working at Batesville was to increase engagement and connection with parents and the greater community. The district especially wanted to engage students – but how?
Instagram Reels has become the answer! By embracing short-form video and trending audio, Megan has led her district to incredible Instagram results and created a genuine buzz around the school buildings. After just a few months of really tapping into the power of IG Reels, students are pitching ideas to Megan and all age levels are excited about seeing the school’s mascot, Pioneer Joe, around the campuses.
Megan opted to use Reels instead of TikTok because the district already had an established Instagram account. Plus, she can still use TikTok audios as inspiration for creating Reels. When something begins to trend on TikTok, it’s likely going to hit Instagram, next!
Tips for Using Your School Mascot in Instagram Reels
One challenge with Reels is that many short-form video trends and audios are executed by just 1-2 people at a time. Megan wanted to make the Batesville Reels feed about ALL students. When she landed on the idea to feature Pioneer Joe, the district mascot, the pieces just fell into place.
“We’re all Pioneers – and we take pride in that!”
Pioneer Joe represents anyone in the community, and this school pride has permeated to all age levels, as Megan makes a point of visiting students in every grade. She picks one day a month where she (dressed as the mascot) and her communications assistant visit a variety of extracurriculars and classrooms. Megan will also let students be Pioneer Joe for certain videos.
Content ideas are based on the upcoming school calendar, and Megan tries to hit on all major events. By batching their filming efforts, Megan and her assistant consolidate their filming time.
By the way, where does Megan go for inspiration? Benny the Bull, the mascot of the Chicago Bulls, has a massive social media following. Check Benny out on Instagram!
Snag 25 Reels Ideas for FREE
I have even more ideas than what’s outlined here! Get this free download: 25 Reels Ideas for Your School.
Quick Tips for Mastering Instagram Reels
Megan typically batches her filming into one day, although she can be responsive and also film at events when she has the capacity. She keeps a running list of drafts on her phone, ready to post throughout the weeks. She aims for at least three Reels every week.
Film & Edit Outside the App
Early on, Megan made the mistake of filming within the Instagram app, where it’s easy to suddenly lose your work. Instead, film everything on your phone camera, edit the clips, and then upload them all to Instagram Reels with the chosen audio.
Megan doesn’t have fancy equipment for filming Instagram Reels – just her phone, tripod, and sometimes a Ring light. She also recommends having a speaker available to play music, if you’re going to have your students dancing or lip-syncing, so they can hear the audio as they perform. When it comes time to post on Instagram, you can mute that audio and have the in-app audio as the primary sound.
“Localize” the Trends
Local news reporters always try to find an angle to localize a national news story. It’s the same concept with trending Reels concepts and audios! Students will be your best source of ideas on what’s trending and what they want to do in a video.
You can also watch Reels and TikToks, yourself, to get a feel for trends. Then, think about how you can recreate those trends so they apply to your school!
Get Staff on Board
On the days when she is dressed as Pioneer Joe, she’ll give building administrators a heads-up so they know she’s going to be visiting. This creates excitement and anticipation – everyone wants to see what Pioneer Joe is going to do, next!
Megan says that some teachers even show the Reels videos in their classrooms, for fun. This has resulted in certain classes asking to be included. She strives to be inclusive, and this staff buy-in has led to neat opportunities with classrooms such as special education and early childhood education.
Use the “Collaborate” Feature
When your content is relevant to another Instagram account – such as a student club/team, school building, or local business – tag them as a “collaborator” before posting your Reel. Once your “collaborate” request is accepted, that video will be cross-posted to the other account’s feed. Your analytics will soar!
Don’t Take Things Personally
Some videos will flop – and that’s OK! You never know what’s really going to take off. It takes time to get into a groove and get comfortable, so keep trying. Again, your students will be your best secret weapon in making your Reels successful, so get them involved whenever possible.
Remember Your Primary Goal
Remember that the goal of using Instagram Reels for your school isn’t to “go viral” or have one hit video. The goal is to create connections, tell stories, and celebrate what’s happening in your schools!
Your next action step is to head over to Batesville’s Instagram account and follow it – you won’t be disappointed!
More Great Reels Resources
- How to Use Instagram Reels for Your School (blog)
- Ignite Your Instagram with These 10 Reels Ideas (blog)
- 25 Reels Ideas for Your School (PDF download)
- How to Use Instagram Reels for your School with Melissa Reese (podcast)
- Keeping it ‘REEL’ with Yvonne Harris and Lori Maugans (podcast)
- How to Add Your Logo to a Reel and Customize Text Color (#K12PRtip video)
Get inspired by these schools posting excellent IG Reels: