Are you tempted to start a TikTok channel for your school because you know that all of your students are on it?
Short-form video content is all the rage! And just like popular social media trends before it, other social media platforms are now adopting it.
Remember when Snapchat was rising in popularity? It didn’t take Instagram long to add the “Stories” feature. And now, Stories are also available on Facebook and YouTube…
But before starting a TikTok channel for your district, you should know about Instagram Reels. Reels are very similar to TikTok but live inside of Instagram. So that means you don’t have to start and manage another social media account for your school. And guess what? Facebook now has Reels as well!
Let’s break down what Instagram Reels are, why you should consider using them for your school, and explore a bunch of school-specific examples!
What are Instagram Reels?
Instagram Reels is a feature within the Instagram app where you can create short videos from just a few seconds long up to 60 seconds in length. They can be added to your Instagram account and show up on both the Reels tab and your newsfeed. You can even share them on your Instagram Stories.
You can add pre-recorded videos and photos into Reels, but you can also record video directly in the app. Reels has a wide variety of audio selections that you can add to your videos, plus stickers and text options. All of this editing can be done within the app.
Why Should I Consider Instagram Reels for My School?
Instagram is focusing on the growth of Reels within its app. To encourage its users to create Reels content, it’s giving preference to Reels in the newsfeed and Explore tab. That means you can attract new Instagram users with your Reels content! It’s a great strategy to increase your reach or impressions, with the ultimate goal of adding more followers.
The impact of Reels can be dramatic. I believe that Instagram gives you extra reach on your very first Reel that you create. I first tried it on my #SocialSchool4EDU Instagram account, using a trending sound clip and a short, 7-second video of me making fun of myself trying to figure out Reels…and it reached over 14,000 people! View that video, here.
I remember seeing that large number about one hour after I posted it. I was in the pontoon while my husband was fishing and I messaged my Marketing Manager, Emily, who had been encouraging me to try Reels. I was like “Is this reach for real?”
I only have about 650 followers on my business’ Instagram account, so reaching over 14,000 people is an insane amount, and I didn’t pay a dime.
In the New Auburn School District, I first assembled a short photo slideshow to a popular music track and it reached over 4,000 people. This Instagram account had just 750 followers at the time.
With reach like this, I think spending the time to use Reels for your school is worth it!
How Do You Get Started with Instagram Reels for Your School?
The first step is often the hardest – but in this case, it’s not too bad. Your first assignment is to simply watch other Instagram Reels. You need to get an understanding of what the platform is like, and so the best way to do that is to watch other creators’ content.
There is a significant amount of intelligence in the algorithm that Instagram uses to deliver Reels to you. As you watch certain videos, it will determine how long you watch them, and pretty soon, it will be able to guess what videos you will like to see. Scary – I know!
Many of the Reels you see will be lip-synced or informational – and some of those may apply to your school. But in the next section, I’m going to give you a ton of examples that you can observe to give you even more ideas for how Reels can work for schools.
In order to gain access to the complete audio library within Reels, you should change your Instagram account from a Business account to a Creator account. You will still have access to insights and other features that business accounts have, but you will also have the music and other audio track selections.
There are some nuances to learning how to create the videos. I provided some step-by-step training recently inside of my private membership group. I’d love for you to consider joining, but you can also check out some amazing tutorials on YouTube that help explain how to create Instagram Reels, step-by-step.
- How to Use Instagram Reels: Detailed Walkthrough
- 15 Instagram REELS Tips, Tricks & Hacks | YOU MUST KNOW!!!
Instagram Reels Examples from K12 Schools
I always learn best by watching actual examples from other schools around the country. Many schools are just getting started, but here are a few you can check out.
This school district in the state of Washington really inspired me with the timing of the still images on this Reel. I think others were impressed as well because it reached over 8,000 people! It’s a great sports highlight video that combines both video and photographs.
This school district in Texas has a wide variety of Reels on its page. They have utilized trending music and other popular messages and applied them to the school setting. Brilliant!
Check out their entire page of Reels, but I really liked this touching video reuniting a student with a military family member! It reached over 10,000 people!
Even small private schools are using Instagram Reels! There are several examples on this page from athletic events, but my favorite has to be this lost and found video! The music is so perfect.
Transformations are big on Reels. Home remodeling projects, cake creations, crafts, and more. So how can this apply to schools? Well, this district in Pennsylvania used it to showcase a new school! Check it out, here.
Sharing special events or activities is a great idea, as illustrated by this private school in Arkansas. I especially loved this parachute video, because I TOTALLY remember how fun it was to do this activity when I was a kid!
Reels can simply be videos from your district. Just think of it as a different way of reaching people! Here is an example from Bend-La Pine Schools celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
El Paso ISD is incorporating TikTok videos onto Reels. This is another option if you already have an active TikTok presence. They have the amazing Liliana Gonzalez heading up their social media. You can meet her and learn how she grew their followers by the thousands in my podcast interview with her –
What to Remember About Instagram Reels for Your School
- Start out by consuming Reels to understand the platform
- Set your account to Creator account to get more music options
- Post Reels in the evening – or when your students would be able to watch
- Post Reels around the same time each day. You can save drafts and publish them when you’re ready. Note that drafts do not save between devices, so if you have a co-collaborator creating Reels and saving to drafts, those drafts will only show up on their own phone.
- You can edit the video on another platform before posting it to Instagram Reels. Just make sure you use 1080×1920 vertical dimensions.
- Use relevant hashtags to help increase your views.
- Try a variety of creative ideas to see what your audience likes. If you’re trying to get a special message out, don’t forget that you don’t need thousands of views. If you were in your school and got 100 kids to listen to your message, wouldn’t that be a success? Don’t underestimate the power of even “small” numbers on Reels.
Did I make a strong enough case for you to try Instagram Reels for your school’s account? I’d love to see a link to your videos below! And feel free to share any lessons learned. I’m always eager to see what is working best for schools.