Instagram Hacks: Creating Reels in Minutes

Reels are hot on Instagram right now and can help you organically reach more of your followers while also gaining exposure to a wider audience (and add new followers!). But the number one thing we hear from our friends in shelters and rescues is that it’s hard to find the time to create new reels regularly: Despite being just 15 seconds in length, those clips can take a while to edit!

That’s where Nicole Bowman comes to the rescue! Nicole is a member of our Artists Helping Animals program but also runs Lucky Dog Rescue in Phoenix, AZ. Amid running her own photography business, managing her nonprofit, and fostering a rotating crew of adoptables, Nicole knew she needed some time-saving tricks to make reels. And we’re happy to say she has a hack for getting more engagement through Reels and saving time while you’re at it!


Here is a simple 4-step process, which allows her to create new Reels in about 10 minutes:

  1. Start with discovery. Explore what’s trending and look for Reels with sound bites that would work well for adoptable dogs. I try to go for a combo of cute/funny.
  2. Click the audio at the top of a Reel that seems like a good fit for your content, and at the bottom of the screen you’ll see an option that says “Use Audio”
  3. Record a video to match the audio (or use something that’s a good fit on your camera roll). “Seriously, don’t overthink it,” says Nicole, “People love dogs and cats doing cute or funny stuff!”
  4. Add text (Subtitles are always a good idea because a huge chunk of people are on social with the sound off!) and maybe a graphic with a related call to action, like ‘adopt me,’ ‘foster me,’ etc. Nicole also recommends using this time to add contact info like an email address or website where people can take action. “That small addition resulted in way more direct contact from followers,” she shares.


Some other words of wisdom for making the most of Reels:

  • Use video clips over photo slideshows — and don’t shy away from authentic interactions between people and pets!
  • Create your reel in the Instagram app rather than in a 3rd party application (for better performance in the algorithm)
  • Share your reel to IG Stories to boost exposure and views
  • Don’t go hashtag crazy – choose a few strategically placed, brand-relevant hashtags for bigger impact



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A post shared by Lucky Dog Rescue (@luckydogrescueaz)

Learn more:

Using Social Media to Help Shelter Pets Shine | HeARTs Speak + Maddie’s University

Experiment: Do Reels Improve Your Overall Instagram Engagement? | Hootsuite

13 Reels Ideas for Nonprofits | Community Boost

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Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin Quinn

Caitlin is passionate about working with shelters and rescues to reimagine the way they tell their stories and connect with new audiences. She has served in the animal welfare field since 2008 and early on had the honor of working closely with diverse organizations across the U.S. to maximize resources, redesign policies, and find life-changing marketing solutions. In 2015, she got her MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management and in 2021, she began teaching marketing + communications for the University of Florida Master of Veterinary Science, Concentration in Shelter Medicine program. She lives in NY with a petite brindle pit bull named Sally who owns her heart.