Instagram Update: 90 Second Reels

Instagram has released yet another round of updates for creators on their platform including pinning posts to your profile, 90 second reels, interactive stickers in reels, and importing your own audio into reels. 

Today, we are going to talk about 90 second reels. 

What are Reels?

Let’s start from the beginning. Instagram Reels are short-form video on Instagram that is displayed vertically. They were first released back in 2020 as a new feature to compete with TikTok. In many ways, Reels are similar to TikToks. 

If you want to know what will “trend” on Instagram Reels or what new features Instagram is likely to release, TikTok is a really good place to look. 

What makes a Reel good?

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you — most of the Reels I see suck. They don’t have a hook, they are grainy or blurry, and they don’t serve a purpose. This pretty much makes them a waste of time. Sorry if that’s harsh but also I want you to make BETTER ones!

A good reel is going to have a couple factors, and fun fact, none of them are going to include anything about going viral. 

First, you need a hook. You NEED to lead with the most interesting, important, entertaining, or controversial piece of information. 


Because if you don’t hook people at the beginning, they are not going to watch and then the rest of your video is irrelevant. All that hard work — wasted. 

sad pug sitting in a corner

Second, they need to be high quality. This doesn’t mean they need fancy transitions or to be shot on a DSLR. However, they do need to be well lit and as clear as you can make them. 

I recommend shooting with a ring light on a tripod to give you the most flexibility. However, I also shoot a lot of my content with my phone propped up on my east facing window and it works out just fine as long as I am shooting during the daytime. 

One of the biggest game changers is that you have to remember to clean your phone camera before you shoot your video. Because most of us shoot video on our phones AND talk on the phone, our phones and phone cameras get covered in our face oils. 

Sound gross? Look at your phone screen right now. The blog shall wait…

dog nose with text

Anyways, grab yourself a microfiber cloth and wipe down your camera before you shoot. I can almost guarantee you will see a quality difference. (Plus, tbh, isn’t it more sanitary to wipe the phone down regularly anyways?)

After you’ve fixed the basics: hook, lighting, blurriness, the success of your video will come down to your content and the goals you have set for the video. 

You need a content strategy with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART) goals to see success on any social media or marketing efforts. Period. 

How long should I make my Instagram Reels?

Your Instagram Reels should be exactly as long as it takes to get your message across. Cut the fluff. 

And for the love of all things completion rate, please don’t use all 90 seconds just because you can. 

If you don’t need every second and you drag out your video, people are going to swipe away. If your content is relevant for the entire video, then people will watch it through. 

And to speak a little truth, it is unlikely that you actually needed the additional 30 seconds to get your point across. 

Most of the people who have talked to me about how they felt they needed more time on their videos did not need more time. They needed to figure out how to lead with the most important information and be concise.

So why did Instagram give more space?

A lot of creators felt they needed more time— I still think they really didn’t unless they are doing skits but that’s a whole rant I don’t need to get on right now.

Also, TikTok allows for 3 minute and 10 minute videos. If you do some of these on TikTok you better have a damn good hook or it WILL fall flat. Most videos are under one minute. The average attention span is approximately 7 seconds. I’m sure y’all can do the math. 

If you’re struggling to sort out your video content strategy for Reels, I would love to talk to you and see how Wildflower can help you! Email me and I will get back to you within one business day.