Bookstagram Tutorials: Successful Reels

Instagram has announced its moving more towards a video platform than a photo sharing platform. While all of us in Bookstagram world hope this isn’t true, reels are popular right now and they’re a great way to boost your account!   The newest installment in my Bookstagram Tips and Tricks series will walk you through some tips and suggestions for making the best reels, as well as 20+ bookish reel ideas!  

Reels are scary, I know. I’m still learning them myself and getting confident in them. Just like when you first started posting photos, remember that this is a learning process and no one but you expects it to be perfect right out of the gate. So, let’s dive in!

Tips and Suggestions

This information has been gathered from my friend Lexi (@readsbylexi) who is a Creative Director in her real life, and other various social media analytics companies. I haven’t had the best luck with reels, but I implemented some of these in a more recent one, and it blew up. So maybe there’s something to it 👀 Anyways, here’s my top tips for creating a reel that boosts engagement:

  1. Make the video 7-15 seconds long, this seems to be the golden zone.

  2. Good transitions make reels super polished. Take advantage of the trim tool within IG or InShot if you prefer to edit your video outside of IG. (Stay tuned for an entire post about using InShot to edit videos)

  3. Shoot quality video. Make sure your video isn’t blurry or shaky, get a phone tripod if you need to! Use natural light, or get a ring light and make sure your videos aren’t too dark.

  4. Use trending audio. This changes constantly, but just give a scroll through the reels page and save any audios you like, but using trending audio gives you more of a shot of being on the explore page!

  5. Show yourself. People like to see humans! I know not all of us are comfortable on camera (I’m certainly not) so this is definitely not a requirement, but it does seem to help in terms of reels.

  6. Add text to the video calling out important things you’re saying. But also, caption/subtitle the entire video for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you want to give a long spiel, put in the video to read your caption (otherwise people won’t).

  7. Use hashtags! this is super overlooked, but hashtags help reels just like they do photos. Check out my hashtags guide for more info. Same rules apply!

  8. Have a call to action in the caption or the video. Do you want them to ”like for more” or “comment your favorite ___”? Tell them to! Also, the longer and more valuable the caption, the longer people stay on your video, the more popular it gets.

  9. Choose a cover image that fits your feed and isn’t blurry. This can be either a shot from the reel itself, or an image you upload from your camera roll.

I know this list seems overwhelming. Oh my god, Jess, that’s so many rules to remember. Take a deep breath, calm down. You don’t have to do all of these for every single reel. This is just a big list of things I’ve noticed that helps. Implement them one at a time, or a few at a time, and see what works best for you personally.

As with anything on Instagram, do what YOU want to. This is your page, and if you decide you don’t want to make reels, then don’t. This is just a guide for people who’ve decided to try it out!

Reel Ideas

Now, I think the hardest part about reels is figuring out what the heck to even do. The best way I find reels to inspire me is just by scrolling through the reels explore page and saving the ones I think are funny or I have a similar idea for. That being said, here’s a list of 20+ Bookstagram reel ideas to get you started!

  1. Recommendations – Genre recommendations (my top 5 fantasy recommendations), trope recommendations (10 best enemies to lovers), romance recommendations (5 favorite spicy reads). Anything you want to recommend, make it a reel! These can be you holding the books with cool transitions, or as simple as flashing the covers across the screen.

  2. Currently reading – Show us what you’re currently reading!

  3. Bookshelf tour – I know a lot of you have gorgeous bookshelves, so show it off! Take us on a tour!

  4. Book/character aesthetics – Have you ever saved pictures to your phone because you’re thinking “oh that’s a perfect representation of this book/character”? Make all those pictures into a reel showing off the book or character’s aesthetic!

  5. Favorite quotes – Show us what your favorite quotes are from your favorite books!

  6. Hauls – Did you go shopping?? Show us!

  7. Reviews – Reviews are typically written, but why not put it into a reel!

  8. Behind the scenes of taking photos – Show us where you take pictures, how you lay out your props, the mess you make when doing batch photos! Show it all!

  9. Characters you relate to – What characters do you relate to the most? Find some funny audios that fit them, and make a reel out of it!

  10. Reading set up/area – Where do you read? Do you have a nice comfy set up? Show it off!

  11. Meet the bookstagrammer – Introduce yourself and let people get to know you better!

  12. Most read books/favorite books – Show off your favorite books, or your most read books!

  13. Unboxings of bookish merch – Did you get some new candles from Novel Candle Co? Or new shirts from The Dear Writer Co? Show off opening your packages!

  14. TBR stack – What books are you still needing to read? How big is your stack?

  15. Monthly wrap up – What books did you read this month? Show us!

  16. Bookish pet peeves – What bothers you the most in books? Let us know!

  17. Unpopular opinions – What are your most unpopular book opinions? Don’t be shy, tell the world!

  18. What you use as bookmarks that aren’t actually bookmarks – I saw this one the other day and was absolutely inspired. I have so many actual bookmarks and I end up using random stuff as bookmarks all the time!

  19. Books I would sell my soul to read for the first time – Show us your list!

  20. All your posts really fast – This is along the same lines of an aesthetic post, and are one of the easiest to make since it’s just loading all pictures in! It helps promote your account and see how you’ve grown!

  21. Journaling – Do you keep a book or reading journal? Show us your spreads!

  22. Photo setup – Take us behind the scenes of one of your posts! Film how you set it up and arranged your photo!

  23. Best first lines – What are you favorite first lines of books? Show us!

  24. Best last lines – What are your favorite last lines of books? Show us that too!

  25. favorite covers

  26. satisfying bookish things

  27. Yearly reading challenge progress

  28. book boyfriends/g

  29. Bookstagram Reel Challenges – There are sounds all over the reels page that are “go to a random book, turn to page __, and the whatever word tells you something” Find these sounds and go to town!

These are just some of the ideas that I have to share with you! Again, my best tip is just to scroll through and see what speaks to you, and then make it your own!

I’m still learning about reels myself, so I’m sure I’ll do some more posts soon! Let me know what you want to see more of, and tell me what your favorite tips for reels are!