Episode 91

[TUTORIAL] Yes, you should add covers on your Instagram Reels (and how to do it)

Should you add covers to your Instagram Reels? Yes absolutely… and in this tutorial episode, I’ll explain why. 

I’ll also share tips on what kind of covers you should create to increase views/engagement - along with tips on mistakes to avoid. PLUS how to create them using a free design tool like Canva. 

Even if you’re already using Instagram Reels - and creating covers - I think you’ll get some useful tips from this episode. 

Useful links

4 Instagram Reels anyone can create (even newbies) (podcast)

Instagram Reel, Grid or Story? How to decide what to post where… (podcast)

Instagram growth strategies for 2022 (podcast)

Janet Murray’s Courators Kit

Janet Murray’s Courageous Content Planner

Janet Murray’s website

Janet Murray on Instagram

Janet Murray on Facebook

Janet Murray on TikTok

Janet Murray on Twitter

Janet Murray on LinkedIn

Transcript

IMPORTANT: THIS TRANSCRIPT IS AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. WE GIVE IT A QUICK CHECK THROUGH BUT WE DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING AS IT’S INTENDED TO HELP YOU FIND PARTS YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AGAIN - NOT AS AN EXACT TRANSCRIPT. SO THERE MIGHT BE A FEW QUIRKY WORDS/PHRASES HERE!

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Should you add covers to your Instagram reels? Absolutely. I'm Janet Murray. And in this tutorial episode, I'm going to explain why, and I'll also show you how to create an Instagram reel cover and where including giving you the correct design actions and highlights and mistakes to avoid, even if you're already using Instagram reels and Instagram reels covers, I think you'll find this episode useful.

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So stick around. So first off, if you're new or newish to reels, what is an Instagram real cover? Well, when you post an Instagram reel, you can just post the video to your feed. You can also opt to as a cover where you can add a title or an image and a title. This gives you a view as more information about what to expect from your video.

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So why add an Instagram reel cover, particularly when you can use the text function in Instagram reels to add text and to add titles inside the app? Well, it's important to remember that people are actively scrolling, social media apps like Instagram and Tik TOK, looking for content that interest them. But attention spans are short, particularly when it comes to video.

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If you don't grab someone's attention in the first few seconds of a video, they will just keep on scrolling. And when it comes to getting more views on your videos, watch time is everything. The longer people stay watching your videos before getting bored and moving onto something else the better. So adding a cover to your Instagram meals increases the chance someone will actually watch that reel.

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It tells viewers or potential viewers what your video is about and whether it's even worth them taking a look in the first place, will it add value? Will it entertain them? Is it a question they've been looking for the answer to for ages and it, depending on how you shot the video, you might also find that you don't have the best opening shots for your grid.

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In fact, none of the shots in your video or any good for your grid. And by the way, you absolutely should be posting Instagram. Really? I was born your grid. So when I was practicing for this episode, because I'm going to talk you through the steps of how to put a cover on your reel. I was just running myself through it.

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I picked out a reel that I posted last week and the way I'd shot it is if I'd put that reel into my Instagram grid, you only would have been able to see my legs, which is not very ideal. Is it adding an Instagram real cover also increases the chance of people will follow you and not just look at that one reel, say,

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if someone likes one of your Instagram reels and they watch it to the end or they watch most of it, chances are they'll head over to the rest of your meals to see what else you have to offer. If your top nine posts. So ones that show at the top of your feed, not your best performing ones. If those top nine look interesting,

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there's a much higher chance. They'll follow for more. If they like one whale of yours that they've watched go to check out the others and they don't really get what they're about because there's no titles it's inconsistent. Maybe they're not even sure whether it's a business or a personal account. They will almost certainly keep scrolling for me. Covers are like the headlines on a magazine.

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When I talk about Instagram, I often talk about it being the magazine of your business, that main grid and the section where your reels are. It's basically like the cover for your Instagram, with all the headlines on. And if you go into a shop, you pick the magazine off the shelf. If the image doesn't appeal, if none of those headlines appeal,

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you will not buy that magazine. And it's the same with Instagram. People will not follow you for more. And if they're not following you, they certainly won't buy. So for example, if I look at my top nine reels, if I go to my real section, because I have covers on my reels, if someone saw one of my wheels and then went to see what else I had,

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this is what they'd see peek inside my Courators Kit. How to add a cover to an Instagram reel check out my digital content planner. When you're Friday is helping hundreds of women create their first Instagram reel next one, something courageous for you. New Instagram reels feature too old for Instagram reels for Instagram reels. Now this is telling me actually that I need to mix it up a little bit.

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I have actually just run a real challenge. And that's why it's all Instagram reels. There's some content planning in there, some content creation, but if someone was scrolling through, I think they would still get the idea. This woman shares advice on content planning and creation on Instagram. If that's not of interest, great, they're not going to follow it.

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But if it is of interest, if they think to themselves, oh, I have been wondering how to add a cover to an Instagram wheel. Or I have been wondering about a digital content planner. Then they'll stick around. Same with your main Instagram quit. So how do you add an Instagram reel cover? Of course, I do have an Instagram reel about this,

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which I will link to in the show notes, but here's a quick explainer. And if you are somewhere where you can grab your phone, you're not driving or on the treadmill or out walking your dog, then grab your phone and I'll talk you through it, depending on what kind of phone you've gotten when you updated your app. Last, it might look a little bit different possibly.

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And if you're listening to this in the future, and I did make me say this at the beginning, what I'm sharing in this episode is based on what I know at the end of January, 2022, it may well have changed. So if you're doing this along with me, grab your phone and just pretend that you're adding something to Instagram. We'll just grab a bit of video from your camera roll and just walk through the steps with me.

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So when you finished adding your reel and you're happy, you've edited it. We're not going to do that in this walkthrough. You need to tap next. And this will take you to a screen where you'll see some different options up on the top left. There's the option to add a cover. We'll come to that in a second. You might also notice that there is an option to crop the profile image.

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So what you can do here is you can see if the first frame of your video or usually other sections of your video, if any of those would work for your main feed. So even if you're not adding covers, make sure that you add a really clear title in caps, big enough for people to see on your feed, consistent colors, fonts.

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We'll talk more about that in a second, but it may well be that you can crop an image from your video and it might work for your feed. I do it sometimes every so often. I will do one like that, just so I'm introducing my face into the feed. I don't believe we need to see your face on the feed all the time,

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maybe more on that in another episode, but I do do it so that you see my face every so often. So the crop profile option can work, but I find even with a little bit of tweaking, sometimes my head's cut off or sometimes it doesn't look quite right. So this is where adding a real cover comes in. And as I say,

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I would use real covers most of the time and just maybe occasionally go naked. So you also get this option to add a cover in the top left, and you can add an image from your camera roll. So when you're doing this for real, make sure that you have saved your reel cover to your camera roll. So how do you create that image?

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Well, I would recommend using a free design app, like Canva is free for a small monthly fee. You get a lot more features. I definitely think it's worth investing in. If you're going to be creating content for a business and Canva has templates for real covers. So it gives you the exact dimensions. It's kind of like Instagram story shaped portrait shaped currently 1 0 80 by 1920 pixels,

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but disclaimer, these things can change. So check it out for yourself depending on when you're listening. And also bear in mind that even sometimes Canva is wrong. I have created things in Canva that are labeled as being the right size and shape. And when I've tried to post them, they're not. So don't take it as gospel. However, Canva does have lots of templates that you can use.

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And crucially, usually the text or image you bet is in the middle. So if you can imagine that your wheels cover it, it's long, it's like an Instagram story it's portrait and your Instagram grid is square. Only part of that long portrait image that you create for your cover is actually going to be visible in your feed. So you need to make sure that your text is in the right place.

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I had a look through canvas covers when I was preparing for this episode and most of them were in the right place, but I did notice one or two that were too high up. So it's important to be aware of this yourself, because if it is in the wrong place, you will spot it and you'll be able to move it and make sure that you adapt any templates that you use and customize them with your own brand fonts and colors.

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Again, another episode in this I think, but I cannot emphasize how important it is if you don't have already that you decide on your brand colors and fonts. Canva actually has quite a lot of free tools that will help with this, but typically two or three main colors that you use a couple of complimentary more neutral colors and with your fonts as well.

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You want to have consistency with your fonts and there's loads of great apps that you can get that will give you font pairings. So typically you would need bond font that you use for your body texts or your normal writing, and maybe a couple of headline fonts, as I say, whole episode in this. But if you remember nothing else from this consistency with colors,

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I've seen people who have Instagram grids, where the colors don't match their website or any of the other branding. That's the basic thing to start with, make sure it's consistent. If somebody looks at your website and your Instagram, it looks like it's been made for the same business. And you're also being consistent with your fonts as well. It makes such a difference immediately boost the professionalism of your branding.

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And I've said it before. I'll say it again. If you have any budget to spend on anything in your business, I would recommend a few hundred pounds to get a designer to help you with your brand colors, choose your brand fonts, to maybe create some canvas templates that are just for you, that work for your needs and match with the rest of your branding.

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It will be a couple of hundred pounds. Well-spent I can promise if you are going naked with your Instagram reels and not using covers again, that consistency is important. You might have noticed if you follow me on Instagram, that I only ever use one font on Instagram reels and stories. It's the same one the whole time. And I pretty much always used the same colors as well.

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I've created for Instagram stories as an aside canvases or templates in my brand colors, so that if I want to create something quickly on my phone, I've got things already created with my brand colours. So I can just pop pictures or texts on the top of it. But even with that, choose one of the Instagram fonts use it consistently. Same with colors.

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If you always use caps for your video title, do it every time. And even if you have no intention of creating content for Tik TOK, I would highly highly encourage you to get an account just to look because Instagram is basically following everything that Tik TOK does ticks up actually has video covers inside the app. I'm pretty sure that Instagram will follow an introduced something like it,

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which you can use and customize, which gives that consistency. If you look at Tik TOK accounts that are doing well, look at some that you follow that are popular. They will typically be very, very consistent visually the same cover. You might even see the creator wearing a range of colors, not the same color every time, but might be three or four different colors that they alternate the image on their video.

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Right at the beginning of the video, we'll typically there'll be in the same position, or certainly there won't be that much variation. Consistency really is key. And the way I often think about it with Instagram reels and TikToks is if somebody likes one, they want to look in your library basically. And if they go into your library, so that could be the rails that you've already or look at your Instagram grid.

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What they really want to say is like a YouTube playlist, really. So video after video, if they only had the time they would watch them all now because they all sound save valuable or entertaining or whatever it is that you're trying to achieve. If you have a very visual product or service, one thing you might want to consider with your reels is having images in them.

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And Canva has templates where you can incorporate photographs or stills from your video, but it stills from your video. You can take screenshots of them, but they're not always, and always the best quality that can be a bit blurry. But say, for example, if you're a stylist or you're a designer and things that people look at are very much part of your brand,

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I would really urge you to think about how you could use images in your reels covers. And Canva does have templates that will give you ideas on how you could do that and have a look at how other people do it. And what you like about that. You can even mix texts covers and visual covers. The one thing that I would say, whether you're using text only.

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So whether you've just got titles on your reels covers or whether you're incorporating images or illustrations, make sure that the text is big enough. If people love one of your reels, they flick over to your reel section. See, what else did they got? But they can't actually read it. You've put covers on, but you can't actually read what you've written.

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They won't follow. They also won't follow. And this is a common rookie mistake is if you create your reel covers as MP4 as videos. So what I see sometimes is people add covers and social media managers do this. So I've seen social media managers do this on behalf of my clients. So basically you're putting three or four seconds at the front of your video,

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which is just basically text on a colored background. You've lost that viewer before they've even got into the video, or you've certainly lost a proportion of the viewers. If your cover is a static image. And if you do it in the way that I'm suggesting that you do it, then you'll have to add a static image. But if you do what some people do is they create a reels cover in Canva and put it on the front of their video,

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which gives them like an extra three or four seconds that they're getting of people just staring at texts. Then that's probably going to harm your watch time. Last thing I want to leave you with is make sure your titles are super clear. As we've talked about the size. You could probably get away with a little bit smaller, but test them on people,

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ask your friends and relatives like, can you read this? So what you're looking to do with your reels is not to think about them as individual reels. What you're really looking to do is to build a compelling library of resources, like a vault full of goodies. So when I find a new creator that I love on either Instagram or Tik TOK, and I scroll through their videos and I'm like,

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oh, I want to listen to that one. I wanna listen to that one. Oh my God, that one looks really good. I can't wait to watch that. That's what you're trying to create. So try not to think about your videos in isolation and make sure that your titles aren't super clear. So let me give you an example. I have an Instagram reel on how to add an Instagram rediscover,

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which I've already shared. And I'm going to share with you in the show notes, a common rookie mistake would be to title up a video like that with Instagram reels cover, which could mean anything. So think about it like search, like Google search, the more specific, the more that you can use, the words that your ideal customers or clients are actually searching for.

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Basically the questions they're actually asking in the words that they're using, they're far more likely to want to watch. So I could have titled up my video on how to add Instagram reels cover, but people wouldn't really know what it was about. It could be about any number of things. It could be about how to add a reels cover. It could be about how to add one to an existing video.

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It could be about how to create one in Canva. It could be what are the right dimensions for a Reel's cover. It could be, do I need a reels cover? Can you see where I'm going with this? You've got to get super, super specific because if you're too general, if people don't look at your video and think, oh wow,

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I wanted to know that they're not going to save. They're not going to share. And if you haven't listened to my episode yet on what makes a successful social media post, I link to that in the show notes, but it's all about saves the shares about comments. I know I've created a successful Instagram reel. When I look at the number of saves and lots of people have saved it when people are asking me questions in the comments,

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oh, do you have a reel on that? But what about if this happens? Does this work? If, but it's not really, even about clear titling. It's about coming up with topics that your ideal customers and clients really, really want to know about. And by the way, if you have a product-based business, this can totally work for you too.

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Great example for my recent reels challenge actually was a product-based business owner who sells wooden toys. She created a fabulous video on how to clean wooden toys. So she created educational content for people who might be considering buying that product, but are a bit put off by the fact that it might get dirty or chipped or full of germs. For example, if you have a product based business,

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you're always thinking about the problems that your product or service solves that with my greatest content planner, that's why I create a lot of content about more general content stuff, which is the best social media platform was the best social media scheduler. What's the best time to post on social media, all those questions that the people who buy my planner, the people who are looking for ideas on what to post are struggling to stay consistent in answering their questions on social media and becoming a resource for those people.

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That's how I build a community of people who will ultimately buy my product. So it goes beyond great titling. It's about great topics that really solve your ideal customers or clients problems and offer a quick win. Ideally something I can go and implement in my business or in my life today. It's going to make a difference. So I hope you found that useful,

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who knew that Instagram reels covers could take us to so many different places, but they can and getting this right can make such a difference in your business. It literally is the difference between people engaging with your content and not engaging with your content in following you and not following you in buying your stuff and not buying your stuff. These seemingly small things all add up together to potentially making a massive impact on your content and ultimately your business as ever.

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I do love hearing from you. So do connect with me on social media, on Instagram, I'm at Jan Murray UK and that's what I am on most platforms. And if you're looking for inspiration for Instagram reels, you can get hold of my Instagram reel scripts and my templates for war. There's some reels cup of templates in my Courators Kit, along with a whole load of other goodies,

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thousands of social media posts, ideas, monthly content plans, lots of really helpful stuff. That's going to save you so much time on your content. It's called the Courators Kit. And as podcast listener, you can use my special code, which is podcast 67 to save 30 pounds. So that's podcast 67 to save 30 pounds on my Courators Kit.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Courageous Content with Janet Murray
Courageous Content with Janet Murray
Content marketing advice for small businesses

About your host

Profile picture for Janet Murray

Janet Murray

I’m Janet Murray and I’ve helped thousands of coaches, creative and entrepreneurs learn how to create engaging content – so they can build their online audience and make more sales in their business.

I’m also a podcaster and keynote speaker who has spoken all over the world about content marketing and building online audiences.

Work with me and I’ll teach you the strategies I’ve used to grow a multi six figure online business, selling digital products (including Ebooks, online courses and two membership sites). And launch a physical product – the Social Media Diary & Planner, which has sold thousands of copies, all over the world.