Forget about square-shaped photos. These days, Instagram is a hub for video content, and Reels is leading the shift. Since the Instagram Reels length runs from 15 to 90 seconds, these short videos are a chance to quickly grab users’ attention.
Unlike Instagram Stories, Reels won’t disappear after 24 hours and tend to be much shorter than the standard Instagram Live video.
But how long should an Instagram Reel actually be? Are long-form videos better for engagement and reach, or are you better off sticking to shorter Reel lengths? Here’s why video length matters and how to find the best Instagram Reels length for your audience.
Why does Instagram Reel length matter?
The length of your Instagram Reels can impact how many people engage with them. When you find the right length for your Reels, the algorithm works to your advantage. That means new users will discover your Reels!
The Instagram Reels algorithm favors Reels that:
- Have high engagement (likes, shares, comments, saves, and watch time).
- Use original audio you create or find on Reels or music from the Instagram music library.
- Are full-screen vertical videos. Make sure you stick to that 9:16 aspect ratio!
- Use creative tools like text, filter or camera effects.
Ideally, you want people to rewatch your Reels so that Instagram counts the multiple views. You also want people to engage with your Reels by liking, sharing, saving, and commenting. Reels need to hit the sweet spot in length so that people remain interested and don’t exit to watch something else.
Reels that are too long might cause your audience to disengage and drop off. This tells the algorithm that your content isn’t interesting enough. Shorter Reels that people rewatch tell the algorithm that your content is valuable and can result in it being shown to new users.
But shorter isn’t always better. If your product demo Reel lasts seven seconds, it might be hard to provide any value to your audience. People won’t rewatch and they’ll skip to another Reel. The algorithm will take this as a sign that your content isn’t engaging.
So what is the best Reels length? You guessed it — it depends.
It boils down to finding the right Reel length for your content and audience. When you nail that, you’ll have a better chance of appearing in new Instagram feeds and increasing your engagement.
How long are Instagram Reels in 2023?
Officially, Instagram Reels can be from 15 to 90 seconds long — that’s if you’re recording your Reel using Instagram’s camera.
However, if you’re uploading Reels through a third-party scheduling tool like Hootsuite, your Reel can be anywhere from 3 seconds to 15 minutes long.
How to set up the length of your Reels
Changing the length of your Reels is simple. The default time limit is 30 seconds, but you can adjust it to 15, 60 or 90 seconds, depending on your preferences.
Here’s how to set up the length of your Reels:
1. Open Instagram and tap the Reels icon at the bottom of the screen.
2. Select the camera icon at the top of the screen to reach your Instagram camera.
3. On the left of the screen, tap the icon with 30 inside.
4. You can then choose between 15, 30, and 60 seconds.
5. Once you’ve selected your time limit, you’re ready to start recording and editing your Reel.
How to schedule a Reel with Hootsuite
Using Hootsuite, you can schedule your Reels to be auto-published at any time in the future. Convenient, right?
To create and schedule a Reel using Hootsuite, follow these steps:
- Record your video and edit it (adding sounds and effects) in the Instagram app.
- Save the Reel to your device.
- In Hootsuite, tap the Create icon on the very top of the left-hand menu to open the Composer.
- Select the Instagram Business account you want to publish your Reel to.
- In the Content section, select Reels.
- Upload the Reel you saved to your device. Videos must be between 5 seconds and 90 seconds long and have an aspect ratio of 9:16.
- Add a caption. You can include emojis and hashtags, and tag other accounts in your caption.
- Adjust additional settings. You can enable or disable comments, Stitches and Duets for each of your individual posts.
- Preview your Reel and click Post now to publish it immediately, or…
- …click Schedule for later to post your Reel at a different time. You can manually select a publication date or pick from three recommended custom best times to post for maximum engagement.
And that’s it! Your Reel will show up in the Planner, alongside all of your other scheduled social media posts. From there, you can edit, delete or duplicate your Reel, or move it to drafts.
Once your Reel is published, it will appear in both your feed and the Reels tab on your account.
Note: You can currently only create and schedule Reels on desktop (but you will be able to see your scheduled Reels in the Planner in the Hootsuite mobile app).
What’s the best Instagram Reel length for reach and engagement?
Although Instagram is secretive about the ideal Reel length, Adam Mosseri has been clear that Reels themselves are key. Engaging video Reels are now central to the Instagram app experience.
And really, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The best length for Instagram Reels will depend on the type of content you’re posting and your audience’s preferences.
No matter the length of your Reel, the key moment with Reels happens within the first couple of seconds. Here users will decide if they want to keep watching or not — so hook your viewers in from the beginning!
As Mireia Boronat, Senior Content Marketing Executive at The Social Shepherd says, content is key for higher engagement. It’s all about providing the most value to your audience in the shortest time frame possible.
“A good Reel is based on the content itself and not the length. If the content is not engaging and relatable enough, it won’t perform.”
Remember that short Reels also loop more frequently, pushing up your view count and helping more users discover your Reel.
“As a general rule, it’s good to stick to 7 to 15 seconds, as short Reels tend to loop and will count as multiple views. Then, the algorithm picks up that your video is getting many views and pushes it to more users.”
– Mireia Boronat
When in doubt, leave your audience wanting more. They’ll be more likely to keep watching and engaging with your other Reels, sending the algorithm positive signals about your content.
How to find the best Instagram Reel length for your audience
Like most things in social media marketing, it will take trial and error before finding the best Instagram Reel length for your audience. Don’t just post a video for the sake of posting — take time to analyze its performance. You’ll identify your ideal Reel length more quickly
Use these five tips to help you find the best Instagram Reel length for your target audience.
Check what’s working for your competitors
Doing some competitor analysis can help you figure out what’s likely to work for your content too. Look at the type of Reels they’re regularly posting and which ones tend to perform best.
To find any account’s Reels, tap on the Reels icon found on the profile:
Once you’re in the Reels area of the account, you can look at how many views each Reel has:
Now you can get an idea of which of the account’s Reels tend to perform the best. Are they short and relatable Reels? Are they minute-long how-to videos? Take note of the length of those top-performing Reel types.
In the example above, Hootsuite’s most-watched Reel is a short relatable Reel on texts that give social media managers a heart attack.
To investigate this Reel further, you can tap on it and see the number of likes and comments. You can also read the caption and its hashtags:
Repeat this process with a few competitors. Soon, you’ll be able to draw some conclusions about which Reel lengths have the best engagement in your industry.
Once you’ve gathered some insights, start building your Reels strategy. Make sure to be original, though — these insights are only inspiration. Then go out there and create something better!
Test different Reel lengths
You can’t identify the best Reel length without experimenting a little. While short Reels might be the safer option, long Reels can also drive engagement and reach. It all depends on the quality of your content and how your audience responds.
Try focusing on short and sweet Reels when you’re just getting started. To date, the most viewed Reel has racked up 289 million views and over 12 million likes — and is just nine seconds long.
View this post on Instagram
If you’ve got a well-defined niche, you can likely get away with publishing longer Reels. Just make sure you’re intentional when choosing which Reels should last 30 seconds plus and which are better off being just 15 seconds.
French pastry chef Pierre-Jean Quino clearly has a highly engaged audience. He regularly publishes longer behind-the-scenes Reels shot in his kitchen.
This 31-second Reel has 716,000 views and over 20,000 comments. It’s extra impressive, considering the chef’s follower count is around 88,000:
View this post on Instagram
Social media mentor and trainer Shannon McKinstrie encourages testing wherever possible.
“I have tested and tested and tested, and I would encourage every Instagram user to do the same. Every account is different. And while my longer Reels (45-60 seconds) still do very well, they don’t typically get as many views as my Reels that are under 10 seconds.
But what I have found overall is what it really comes down to is the quality of the content you’re sharing and if it resonates with your audience or not. No matter how long your Reel is, if it’s good content, people will continue to watch (and you’ll see your views go up & up).”
– Shannon McKinstrie
Analyze your past performance
Once you have a few Reels under your belt, review their performance. Which Reel lengths have been most successful for your audience?
Tracking the performance of your Reels can help you understand your wins, learn from what didn’t go so well, and create more of what your audience loves.
When you’re using Insights to evaluate the best Reels length, keep an eye on these metrics:
- Accounts reached. The number of Instagram users who saw your Reel at least once.
- Plays. The total number of times your Reel has been played. Plays will be higher than accounts reached if users watch your Reel more than once.
- Likes. How many users liked your Reel.
- Comments. The number of comments on your Reel.
- Saves. How many users bookmarked your Reel.
- Shares. The number of times users shared your Reel to their Story or sent it to another user.
How to view Reels Insights
To view Instagram Insights, go to your profile and tap the Insights tab below your bio:
Tap Accounts Reached in the Overview area.
The Reach breakdown is for your account as a whole, including Reels. This shows how Reels contribute to your overall reach and engagement.
You can also see your top-performing Reels for the last seven days. It’s helpful for quickly seeing which recent Reels were most successful.
To see insights exclusive to Reels, scroll down to Reels in the Insights overview screen and tap the right arrow next to your number of Reels. Now you can see all of your Reels performance metrics in one place.
You can see the performance of individual Reels by opening the Reel from your profile. Just tap the three-dot icon at the bottom of the screen, then tap Insights.
As you try different Reels lengths, make it a habit to check your Reels Insights in the hours, days and weeks after posting. These metrics will tell you what your audience responds best to.
Analyze with Hootsuite
You can also check your performance with Hootsuite, which makes it easy to compare engagement statistics across multiple accounts. To see how your Reels are performing, head to Analytics in the Hootsuite dashboard. There, you’ll find detailed performance stats, including:
- Engagement rate
Engagement reports for all your connected Instagram accounts now factor in Reels data!
Follow trends for inspiration
Trending Reels are a great indication of what Instagram users want to see while they’re scrolling. Plus, trends are usually tied to a particular sound, which will determine the length of your Reel for you.
Instagram user and podcaster Christoph Trappe posts Reels with his daughter. They often create their Reels around trending audio clips:
“We use trending sounds and see if we can use them to tell a story. Most of our Reels are probably 30 seconds or less.”
– Christoph Trappe, director of strategy at Voxpopme.
Here’s a short Reel (just eight seconds) the duo created based on a TikTok video trend making fun of older generations:
View this post on Instagram
Extra tip: According to Instagram, only 60% of people listen to Instagram Stories with the sound on. That means 40% of users watch without sound! Always add on-screen text and subtitles to help you reach more users.
By following trends, you can see which Reel lengths tend to be best for engagement. Are trending Reels under ten seconds or are they usually over 15 seconds? Experiment with trends to see what content resonates best with your audience and how long these Reels usually are.
Remember, only use trends that are relevant to your brand and audience –– not all trends will be the right fit!
Need help staying on top of trends? Try a social listening tool like Hootsuite Insights. You can set up streams to monitor what people are saying about your brand and identify what’s hot in your niche.
Experiment with different content types
Different types of content will require shorter or longer Reels. Short Reel types may tend to perform best, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Short Reels may not best for your content type and audience preferences.
Creator SandyMakesSense posts longer travel Reels, usually around 20-40 seconds long. To keep people hooked until the end, she features eye-catching photography and valuable tips, and she speeds up the audio to make it sound faster:
View this post on Instagram
Beauty brand Sephora often publishes tutorial Reels that promote their latest products. These Reels are often on the longer side, like this one that’s 45 seconds, nd integrate with their Instagram Shop:
View this post on Instagram
No matter the Reel length you choose, aim to publish content that entertains, inspires, educates, or motivates your audience. Be sure to review your analytics to see what’s working for you!
Easily schedule and manage Reels alongside all your other content from Hootsuite’s super simple dashboard. Schedule Reels to go live while you’re OOO, post at the best possible time (even if you’re fast asleep), and monitor your reach, likes, shares, and more.