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Episode 115: How Outdoor Brands Can Utilize Instagram Reels (minisode)

Is your brand missing out on the power of Instagram reels? Let's fix that!

Iris brings her social media insights to the podcasts to discuss why reels are so beneficial to your brand and four types of reels your outdoor brand can utilize to reach outdoor-minded users. We can't wait to see what you post!

Reels referenced:

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Episode Transcript

Hi outdoor industry friends! Welcome to another episode of Outside by Design. I’m Iris, I’m on the creative team here at WHEELIE, and I primarily focus on social media, copywriting, content creation, and this podcast!

Today I am going to talk about a topic I’m very passionate about, which is Instagram Reels! Reels are so underutilized by outdoor industry companies right now, both big and small - and that’s a big mistake. So I’m going to dive into how reels work and how your brand can use them to attract outdoor-minded audiences. Let’s get into it!

[theme music plays]

First things first - what are reels?

Reels are Instagram’s answer to the success of TikTok. They are short videos, up to 30 seconds, that are displayed vertically - so they’re viewed in the 9:16 full-screen format or cropped to a 4:5 ratio when viewed in the regular feed. You can post a reel by swiping right from your home page, and just like on TikTok, you can upload previously filmed video, you can shoot directly from the app, and you can add music, graphics, text, and filters to make your reel stand out.

Because this is a newer feature, Instagram is still heavily pushing reels in the algorithm… you may have noticed this when you’re scrolling through your feed, you’re seeing a lot more reels lately. Plus, they’ve added a tab for reels where users can discover new accounts directly from the reels they’ve posted - meaning you can score big on impressions from non-followers.

But not only does Instagram prefer this type of content, but social media users do, too. In the last year, short-form video has grown exponentially, with TikTok leading the way. This means that users are used to consuming this type of short content on their feeds and are more likely to stick around to finish a 30 second video versus a longer-format IGTV post. So when brands avoid using reels as part of their social strategy, they miss out on an extra boost from the platform AND reaching a hungry-to-consume audience.

Now that we understand reels and why they’re important, I have four different types of reels that outdoor industry brands can use TODAY to increase their reach to outdoor-minded individuals.

Reel type #1 is Stoke Clips.

This is the most common type of reel that I’ve been seeing from outdoor industry brands, and if you have an athlete team, it’s probably one of the easiest tactics to use to build out your reel calendar. These types of reels are simple: they’re short clips of people sending it outside. What better type of content for the outdoor industry! For inspiration, look to accounts like Red Bull, Black Diamond, PinkBike, Specialized, etc.

These brands are using their athletes who are out in the world capturing killer content and reposting those clips to their feeds. This is the type of content adventurous consumers are already looking for when they’re scrolling, and it builds connection between the sport and your brand name in the consumer’s mind. These kinds of reels not only get people excited to get outside and do some adventuring of their own, they get people stoked on your brand, too.

If you don’t have a robust athlete team, you can request user generated content from followers or keep your eyes peeled for relevant content and ask permission to repost - giving proper credit in the caption, of course.

Reel type #2 is Product Launches.

Reels are a great opportunity for launching or teasing new products. Because Instagram will push reel videos more than they push feed posts, you can get your product launch seen by more people than just your followers.

Some brands using reels for this purpose include Simms, SMITH Optics, prAna, and Keen. Some are teasers, with quick clips of the product and a big “coming soon” announcement, and others are fun brand videos created around a product line or big drop.

These types of reels can easily be wrapped into your product launch plan, as they are quick to make from existing footage that you’re already capturing. Don’t forget to make it vertical AND viewable in both feed and reels format so nothing important gets cropped out when you post it on the feed.

Reel type #3 is education.

Educational reels are great to engage your audience and provide valuable information to them while they scroll. You can use these reels to give helpful tips and tricks, product care suggestions, or explain unique ways to use a product. Some examples that I’ve seen recently are: United By Blue posted a reel on how to wrap gifts in one of their bandanas, Oboz shared a reel on how to waterproof their boots, and just a few days ago, REI posted their first reel detailing the steps required to trade in your used gear to their trade-in program. All of these examples strengthen the relationship between followers and the brand, and they leave users with knowledge they didn’t have before.

Content that provides value to users is always a good strategy to include in your social media plan, and reels can be a perfect platform for sharing quick tips that make users pause during their daily scroll.

My fourth tip for reels ideas is sharing behind-the-scenes processes. Social media allows us to go behind the scenes of our favorite companies like we’ve never been able to before, and brands can leverage this interest to show off the unique way they do business. Use reels to show the process of a product being created, tour your production facility, share fun facts about the sustainability features of your supply chain, or show the packing process for online orders. Icebreaker has a lovely reel with behind the scenes footage of a recent photoshoot, giving users an intimate view of the brand as a reward for being a fan.

These types of videos get users invested in who you are as a brand and help show them there’s a human side of your business.

These are just four strategies to get you started in the world of reels - start experimenting with these types and see what resonates with your audience. Be brave, get creative, and play with the many features reels has to offer. I can’t wait to see what you post!

[theme music]

Thank you so much for tuning in to Outside By Design. If you haven’t already, please leave us a written review in your podcast app or help us out by sharing the show with an outdoor industry friend who you think might enjoy it. Subscribe wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss out on our weekly episodes.

Follow us on Instagram at @wheeliecreative and send us a DM if you have any questions about reels or if you have suggestions for guests we should have on the show. Head to to find older episodes, transcripts, and show notes.

I’m Iris, and as always, thank you so much for being here.

See you next week!

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