You’ve heard about the benefits of Instagram Reels. What you want to know now is whether you actually need to feature in them yourself to make them a success!
Instagram Reels are one of the best ways to grow on Instagram in 2022.
Not only are they a great way to skyrocket followers, they’re also incredibly powerful at boosting engagement.
That’s the beauty of video. It’s fun, easy-to-consume, and (usually) more dynamic than static photos.
But I’m sure you’ve heard all these benefits already. What you want to know is whether you need to feature in them to make them a success, right?
Well I’ve got good news for you. Faceless Reels can be just as effective as Reels that feature you or your voice.
In this article I’ll dive into 10 ideas for faceless Instagram Reels that will boost your engagement and followers.
Before we dive into the faceless Reels, here are 3 video editing apps I recommend you use.
If you’re looking for premium quality Instagram Reels, look no further than Videoleap. The app comes with intuitive editing tools and lots of effects and transitions that turn simple videos into scroll-stopping Reels.
Price: From $7.99
InShot has similar features to Videoleap, but where it really shines is sound. It comes with a library of tracks and sound effects, and makes it super simple to upload your own music or ‘lift’ audio from a screen recording. Perfect if you want to use a soundbite from TV or film in your Reel.
Price: Free with a watermark or $3.99/month
If you prefer to edit videos on desktop, Veed.io is the app for you. It has many of the editing features that smartphone apps offer, with extras like a subtitles tool and custom fonts. Their customer service is excellent too.
Price: Free with a watermark or $12/month
People love vlogs because they offer a behind-the-scenes look at a business owner’s life. The reason I love Reel vlogs is because they’re easy to make.
You can capture content through your day or week and quickly compile it together inside Instagram or using an intuitive editing app like InShot or Videoleap. You don’t have to feature in the vlog and you don’t even have to do a voiceover. In fact, an upbeat trending track works really well for this style of Reel.
If you want to make Reel vlogs a regular part of your content calendar, I recommend getting into the habit of capturing footage as you go about your working day. Better yet, set reminders on your phone so that you don’t forget. This way, you’ll never run out of content to use and you can even create 2 or 3 weekly vlogs at once. No-one has to know that it’s all the same week!
Here’s a brilliant daily vlog from Lauren Sivak.
The best Instagram content isn’t about you. It’s about your ideal client.
That’s why educational content performs so well. It solves a problem for your followers and makes their life, business, health, relationships (insert your area of expertise!) a bit easier to manage.
Faceless ‘how to’ Reels are the perfect medium to share your expertise and provide value to your audience.
Here’s an example from Steven Mellor. In this Reel he shows his followers how to create a social media content strategy that converts by using a diagram illustrated in his notebook.
It’s a really effective way of breaking down a complex topic into a simple and engaging video. This works better than using slides designed in Canva or Adobe because it’s more authentic and suits the Reels aesthetic. If you haven’t already, I recommend trying this approach (a hand-held demonstration or explanation) rather than opting for something more polished.
Screen recording ‘how to’
Another way to create a compelling ‘how to’ Reel is by adding a voice over to a screen recording.
For example, Spotify created this Reel showcasing their new ‘Lyrics’ feature by screen recording the app and adding annotations and the funny eyes and mouth filter.
Another example comes from Alexandra who walks us through her Notion Meal Planner.
I’m a huge fan of sharing tips in Instagram Reels. Correction: I’m a fan of keeping my advice short and sweet, sharing 1 tip per Reel.
This makes the process of creating educational Reels super quick and easy and it gives my ideal client a nugget of wisdom that they can action immediately.
To batch a set of 5 or 6 tips-based Instagram Reels fast, first think of your overarching theme. I did this recently and started with ‘Content Creation’. Then I brainstormed a long list of tips to help people get over content creation overwhelm and procrastination. Here’s a taster of my ideas:
Next I outlined what each idea would look like as a Reel i.e. the clips I needed to capture or the pre-existing footage I could use. Since these Reels are super short, I only use about 2-4 clips maximum so filming or curating doesn’t take long at all. The final step is drafting the text to add over the top of the Reel.
Here's how tip number 5 turned out:
And that’s it! That’s why I love tips Reels - they’re super easy to make and even easier to batch.
It doesn’t get much simpler than recording yourself working and guess what? This makes for a brilliant faceless Reel!
That’s what graphic designer Abi Connick does regularly. She takes us behind-the-scenes (BTS) of her design process with sped-up over-the-shoulder Reels that her audience loves.
Not only is this inspiring to fellow creatives, but it’s also a great way to demonstrate her expertise and convince prospective clients to get in touch.
Here’s a similar example from brand designer and strategist Katie Proctor. She shares what a client strategy presentation looks like. This shows prospects what it’s like to work with Katie and encourages other brand strategists and designers to purchase her template.
But these BTS Reels don’t have to feature you working at your computer. You could record yourself looking over your moodboard like this example from interior design studio, Studio Ashby.
Or you could share yourself in the studio like this example from 14 year-old photographer George Gott.
If you thought that Instagram Reels were purely about video content, think again. Some of the most engaging and best performing Reels are a selection of photos edited together in time to the beat of a song.
This is no less interesting to watch than a video and is often much easier to make because you can use existing photos in your gallery.
Here’s a great example of a photo mash-up from @reelstips.
It’s hard to resist a timelapse. Something about the passage of time whizzing by at 2x or 3x speed is so watchable (and rewatchable!) that it makes for a brilliant faceless Reel.
The easiest way to create this Reel is to use the in-built feature on your phone. Open up your camera and swipe along until you see the ‘Time-lapse’ button. This will automatically convert your video into a seamless timelapse.
If you don’t have this button on your phone, don’t panic! You can use the Hyperlapse app.
Here are some great timelapse Reels to inspire you. The first comes from @thevineyardplanter.
There’s also this from @andreamosey_art.
If you’re a product-based business, packing timelapses make for brilliant faceless Reels. Here’s an example from stationery brand Oak and Ivory.
3 tips to create great timelapse Reels:
Do you know what most people on Instagram have in common?
They’re nosey. They love to see where their favourite people, brands, and businesses are located.
There’s lots of different ‘locations’ you could feature through Reels. It could be your geographical location - the city or town in which you live - or it could be a sneak peek inside your office, studio, or workspace.
You could film this in a variety of different ways. It could be a timelapse, a photo mashup, or a simple 3-5 second clip like this Reel I shared.
Here are some location ‘hooks’ to steal to add to the beginning of your Reel:
Stop motion is an incredibly engaging type of Instagram Reel that stitches together photos (with incremental changes) into a video.
They’re super fun to watch but can be quite tricky to make. That is until Life Lapse came on the scene.
Life Lapse is free to download for iOS and Android and allows you to create professional stop motion videos in no time at all (try 5 minutes!).
Here are 3 ways you can incorporate stop motion Reels into your content plan:
Next time you plan to share a standard photo to your grid, why not create a simple stop motion Reel instead?
Even a little bit of motion is enough to stop the scroll and keep people engaged.
Before and after Reels work for almost every kind of industry.
If you update your home office, you can show your old workspace and contrast it with your new one. This is a great way to show that your business is growing, and to keep followers updated on your journey.
To demonstrate your expertise as a freelancer, you could create a Reel that shows life before using your services and life after using your services.
For example, I could create a faceless Instagram Reel showing my ‘old’ content planning system (scraps of paper everywhere, my desktop full of files, notepads filled with scribbles) and then transition to my ‘new’ content planning system: a clean, organised Notion dashboard.
These clips would be filmed from my perspective (my face wouldn’t feature) and instead my audience would get to see everything ‘through my eyes’. This way, they can start to imagine themselves in my shoes, experiencing the benefits of investing in my services and transforming their content planning habits.
A few other examples of faceless before and after Reels include:
This front entrance makeover from @blankslatereno
Photography editing from @louimagin
The living room before and after it was decked out for a party from @patriciabright
This faceless Reel could be a motivational quote, some words of wisdom, or a mini tip. Whether you present it as a Tweet screenshot or use the text feature within Instagram to annotate your video is up to you.
In this example from Shannan Monson, she’s encouraging her audience to show up when no-one is reading, watching, or listening. That’s her ‘secret’ to growth.
In another example from Phoebe Parke, she implores her followers to get their content off their camera roll and onto their Instagram feed.
The great thing about quote Reels is that they break up the feed and stop your followers in their tracks. They’re scrolling through product stop motions, talking-head videos, and trending dances and then: bam! There’s your thoughtful message that makes them stop and think for a moment.
Pro tip: Make sure you share your thoughts or perspective on a quote Reel and
not a famous quote we’ve seen a hundred times before. If you’re stuck for
ideas, imagine you’re talking to your dream client in a coffee shop. What would you say to inspire them? What piece of advice would you share? How would you make them laugh?
Journal answers to these questions first without overthinking. Then, go and edit these into clear and succinct one liners or short paragraphs. Now you have a set of quote Reels ready to publish.
Whether you’re too busy, not prepared to show your face that day, or simply want to try something new, faceless Reels are highly effective and fun pieces of content.
I recommend starting easy. Have a go at filming clips from your day or week and put them together in a mini vlog. Just don’t forget to tag us on Instagram at @Iconosquare!
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Every week, Emily interviews top brands, renowned influencers, and hidden agencies with one goal in mind: to understand what happens backstage of their social media strategies.Listen to esm2