How to Build Effective Ad Creative for Instagram & Facebook Reels

Since being introduced in 2020, Instagram and Facebook Reels have skyrocketed in popularity, with the format now reeling in more than 140 billion views each day. This booming popularity has made the short-form video format an attractive one for advertisers. Not only is there now a vast audience of Reels users, it has also proven to be a highly effective space for advertisers to achieve objectives at all stages of the funnel.

In a test with consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, it was found that adding the Reels ad format to campaigns increased incremental ad recall by 54%, and incremental purchase intent by 93%. When narrowing-in on Gen Z audiences, the results were even more impressive, with incremental purchase intent increasing by a whopping 145%. 

So, it’s clear that Reels ads across both Instagram and Facebook offer a lot of potential. However, to make sure you’re capitalizing on as much of this as possible, you need to focus on one thing: your ad creative. 

The Reels format is all about creativity. As an advertiser entering this environment, you need to fully embrace this and make sure you’re running ad creative that is right for Reels. This requires a slightly different approach to other digital placements. 

But don’t worry, this article is here to equip you with all the info you need to ensure your Reels creative hits the mark. We’ve listed eight of our top Reels creative recommendations, along with a bunch of world-class examples for inspiration.


1. Nail the basics first


Before getting into the reely good stuff, we’ve got to start with the basics. This means making sure that each piece of Reels creative that you make follows fundamental formatting requirements and best practices:


  • Use a 9:16 ratio: Vertical video is key, but be aware of your safe zones to avoid having key visuals or copy blocked by the user-interface. 
  • Design for sound on: More than 80% of Reels are viewed with sound, and music and sound effects are an integral part of the Reels experience—more on this later. 
  • Make the first five seconds count: Hook viewers with impactful visuals or sound effects.
  • Keep things short & sweet: Reels ads can be up to 60-seconds; however, 12–15 seconds is the sweet spot.


2. Entertainment is everything

First and foremost, the objective of your Reels creative should be to entertain. If you have entertaining creative, the score—i.e. your campaign objectives—will take care of itself.

The key here is to think about how your creative enhances a viewers experience when they’re scrolling through their feed as opposed to disrupting it.

  • Tip #1: Draw inspiration from organic Instagram and Facebook Reels content. What’s currently trending? How can you reference these trends within your ad creative?
  • Tip #2: Mix entertainment with education—edutainment, if you will. For example, this could take the form of an instructional video such as a meal recipe or a makeup tutorial.


3. User-generated content (UGC) & creator collabs

When it comes to the visuals of your Reels ads, you want to feature people as much as possible—avoid being too product-focused. In an analysis of two million Reels ads, it was found that creative featuring people led to a 25% higher CTR than ads without people. 

This will be even more powerful if you’re able to feature UGC or creator collabs. Doing so will help your ads resonate more strongly with audiences as the product or service that you’re promoting will be shown in a more authentic light.  

  • Insight: 78% of consumers state that creators help influence them to find new brands.


4. Lo-fi production 

Achieving high impact with your Reels ads, doesn’t require creative with high production value. Quite the opposite; creative that takes an unpolished, low-fi approach will‌ perform higher on average

This is because lo-fi creative is better at fitting in with the organic content that it is placed among. If your creative is too polished, it will stick out like a sore thumb, and users will swipe past it. It sounds counterintuitive, but with Instagram and Facebook Reels, the best way to capture attention is to blend in, rather than stand out.


5. Building on a budget

The power that UGC, creator collabs, and lo-fi production have, shows that the most effective Reels creative can be built on a tight budget. More often than not, you can produce your creative without having to shoot any new content. Instead, you can repurpose assets that you already have.


If you have UGC or content from creator collabs, amazing; but you can also repurpose other content such as organic social posts or key visuals to create stunning Reels ads. Just look at the example above from Brooklinen. A few photos, a little video footage, throw in a doggo for good measure, and Voilà—a perfect Reels ad.


6. Refresh creative regularly

Due to the nature of the Reels format, creative can fatigue relatively quickly. This is because Reels audiences are accustomed to an endless feed of new video. Showing the same creative too many times will inevitably lead to a performance drop-off.

The best way to counter this is by taking an always-on approach to your Reels creative. This means updating your ads with fresh creative regularly. Whenever your creative starts to fatigue, swap out the video for a fresh one to keep things new and interesting. 


7. Turn up the audio! 

Audio is central to the overall Reels experience.  Music, sound effects, and VO can be just as influential as your visuals—so don’t neglect these components. 

As mentioned previously, the majority of Instagram and Facebook Reels are played with sound enabled. This gives you an opportunity to really immerse your audience through the use of different types of sounds.

The numbers sing the same song. According to Meta research, Reels ads that featured both music and VO led to a +15 point higher positive response score than those without—gotta love the sound of that!


8. Finishing touches: emojis & stickers

Simple, yet effective. Emojis and stickers are easy additions that can strengthen your messaging within your Reels ad creative. In fact, research has shown that incorporating emojis next to copy within Reels ads leads to a 26% lower cost-per-click.


Emojis and stickers can also be combined with sound effects for even greater impact. Check out the Just Spices example above to see this in action.  


Take your Reels ad creative to the next level

As an official Meta Creative Partner, Shuttlerock can help you take your Reels ads to the next level, producing world-class video creative built entirely from your existing assets. To learn more, get in touch with one of our team members, or request a demo


Start Creating High-Quality On-Brand Video Creative Today