Do Instagram Reels Really Work For Your Business – Kendra Swalls

Now, I can honestly say that it’s absolutely sweeter the second time around!

This week we’re lucky to have, once again, Kendra Swalls of Girls Means Business. Kendra is still our mompreneur and a strong advocate of helping women transition from survival to success mode. However, her business have grown so much since the last time we spoke. Huge part of this is how she was able to maximize Instagram Reels.

Short-form video is here to stay so don’t miss this episode as she shares her top strategies in creating no-sweat Instagram Reels.

Kendra’s website:


Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to Rocky Mountain marketing. My guest today is Kendra swallow. She has been on the podcast before so I’m sure you guys are going to really enjoy hearing from her again last time, we talked all about email strategy, but today we are diving in to Instagram reels and Kendra is a true expert on this topic. I’m really excited to have her in here. She helps specializes in helping women take their business from survival mode to success mode, and realizes the same relationship marketing strategies that have worked for her in the past can help many business owners out there. So if you guys have a lot of burning questions on Instagram reels, tick tock videos that you are in for a treat. Kendra, welcome to the show today.

Kendra Swalls 1:09

Hello, I’m excited to be here.

Katie Brinkley 1:11

I am so excited to have you back. And like I said, you’ve joined me on Rocky Mountain marketing before we talked all about email, you just are a wealth of knowledge on business strategy and how to grow your business for all the mompreneurs and people who are trying to grow their businesses out there. So I’m a huge fan of your Instagram reels, which is why I asked you to come back to the podcast. And I’d love to dive in a little bit with how Instagram reels can be a huge part of your Instagram strategy.

Kendra Swalls 1:44

Yeah, so you know, when Tik Tok came around, I think a lot of people were either of two camps like either one, they were like, This is amazing. I love this. Like, let’s just go create these short little 3015 second clips and videos are they’re consuming them. And then there are other people who are like, this is stupid, I’m not doing this. I was of that variety. And then Instagram who I love and can do no wrong. I was like they came out with reels. I mean, they can do wrong, but you know, they came out with their version of Tik Tok, I was like, Okay, I’m gonna give this a try. Let’s see if I you know what this is. And if this can actually help, and the value of Instagram reels is it builds that know, like, trust factor so much faster with your audience, because not only are they seeing your content, like in your feed and things like that in your stories, they’re connecting with you. But they get to see a whole different side of you in reels. And it helps you to reach such a wider audience. I mean, I’ve seen accounts that have grown 1000s and 1000s of followers, just from doing reals, because real Instagram is saying, Hey, this is the hot new ticket, let’s push it out to everybody. And so it’s a great opportunity for you to reach new accounts. But it’s also, you know, I think a lot of people are like, Oh, it’s a great way to get new followers, it’s a great way to connect with the followers you already have, and share value, but also show your personality and let them get to know like you even though you’re probably doing it with a lip sync or other music behind you, but get to see like, Okay, what aspects of her life is she kind of sharing through these little videos, whether it is her silly side or education side or whatever, it’s just it’s a fun, creative new tool that I think people are really embracing. And even if they’re not creating them, they’re consuming them. And so it’s a great way to get yourself in front of a lot of new people.

Katie Brinkley 3:37

And I think that one of the biggest things you said was, you know, when Tik Tok came out, I mean, I dabbled personally and Tik Tok quite a bit during the pandemic. And once the world opened up again, I was like, Okay, let’s focus back on the social media platforms that are working for me and my business. And Instagram brought reels in it was kind of just going to try and see how it goes. And then earlier this in 2020, they have said, we are moving more towards a full video platform. We’re not just a photo sharing app anymore. And I think that a lot of the Instagram marketing world was like, wait, what? And I think that videos had a strong place in Instagram for a while now. But they’re pushing reels out on Instagram to accounts that don’t even follow you.

The reach you can get with reels, they’re pushing it out to Facebook, as well to say yeah, now it’s cross platforms. Yeah, exactly. And

I feel like if reels aren’t on your business’s radar, it’s time to rethink your social media strategy. Things are changing fast and trends are exploding overnight. So I think that you really have to try and keep up or find a way to put your business out there in these short form video. It’s not highly produced. It’s it really gives you the opportunity to show your business’s personality and your authenticity. I think that social media for your business So as a no brainer, I’m a little biased. But why do you think that real specifically needs to be a part of people’s business strategy?

Kendra Swalls 5:08

So I think it goes back to what you said about when Instagram, Instagram came out and said, we are now a video platform, we no longer a photo sharing app, all these people kind of panicked and freaked out. They’re like, Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. But if you really go back and look at marketing over the last couple of years, in general, not just in social media, you know, I did a podcast interview back in early 2000s, either internet 2019, or beginning of 2020, with a lady who was a video marketing expert, and she was talking to you about the power of using like video on your website, you know, having a welcome video on your website where you greet your, you know, viewers with information and letting them get to know you. And I think we started seeing video becomes such a powerful tool, not even just on social media, but other places, because it’s a way for us to connect better. And so by the time tic tock and rails came along, it was almost like okay, this is sort of the final like nail in the coffin that’s gonna really do the deal that we are now about video. But it’s been coming for a long time. And you just you see it trickling in, in different places. You even coming from my photography background, like I saw so many photographers who were partnering up with videographers to offer like, Hey, we’re going to do a family photo shoot, but we’re also going to hire this videographer to come and get behind the scenes video of your family. So it’s been here this whole time. It’s just now because of tick tock and rails becoming sort of this like widespread thing that people are going, Oh, okay, now I get it. Now I need to embrace it. And I think because it’s short form, you know, with Rails and tick tock like people, okay, 15 seconds, I can do 15 seconds or less. You know, when you talk about like creating an IG TV or a YouTube video, that seems a little more daunting. But when you break it down, yes, yeah, exactly, it’s a little more polished, it’s a little more planned out. reels can be something you do just kind of following a trend or an idea you get in your head, it doesn’t have to be this super produced thing. And that’s sort of the beauty of its I think that has the mass appeal that lets us know, video is here to stay, even though it’s been around in different formats for a while before that,

Katie Brinkley 7:18

you know, and I think that one of the biggest things that we’ve seen with Instagram reels is that it it really kind of shows how addictive that short form content is, you can pop in to watch a 15 second video, and before you know it, an hour and a half has gone by because you fall down a 15 second rabbit hole. Now, you can have videos up to 30 seconds. But I think that 50 That short form video, I can watch one quick video, oh, just watch another quick video. And it’s it’s very addictive. And you know, you can get into those rabbit holes where it’s hard to get out of it. That’s what all these platforms want is they want you to stay on their platform. So if you’re showing up on a regular basis, like Kendrick, like I said, You are just a real queen over there. If you’re producing a lot of reels, pushing out these reels four or five times a week, you’re going to see your audience grow. And you’re going to have that opportunity to really connect with your ideal clients and customers on a more personal level, because they feel like they see a more authentic side to you than that polished, professionally done video.

Kendra Swalls 8:22

Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. You know, I

Katie Brinkley 8:24

think that too, one of the biggest questions that I know a lot of my clients struggle with, when I say we really need to try and start using more short form video is, I don’t know what to post I don’t know what to say in 15 seconds. Because the beginning when I’m like, Hey, we should show up in stories. It’s really easy. They’re just 15 seconds long. And then when I say we have to produce a 15 second videos, like wait a second, that’s not enough time to say everything. So what kind of advice would you have on different types of reels to produce for your ideal clients and customers? Because that’s the biggest thing. You can produce funny, some funny cat videos, no problem. But how does this relate to your business?

Kendra Swalls 9:02

So I think that’s the first key is that it does need to relate to your business. It’s one thing to like, you know, you’re scrolling through reels, and you see these fun, like dances and trends and like funny little things. And those are all great. And if you can find a way to relate them to your business, then use them. But I think the key is you need your videos to all fit within your niche. So you know, for example, with mine, I focus a lot on you know, mom life because my audience is particularly women and moms. So a lot of my videos might revolve around like being a mom or being a mompreneur or they evolve around like, you know, being a business owner, things like that. And so it would seem odd if then out of the blue, I posted a reel where I’m like doing some random dance trend that has nothing to do with my, you know, with my brand. And so I’m like, if I can find a way to relate it back, you know if I can do the fancy like dance and relate it back to my business fine, but I’m not going to go out there. Unlike do that, or I’m not going to do, you know, you see some of these trends on Tik Tok that have you know, I came thing want to top my head right now, but the audio doesn’t match my audience you know, maybe it’s has language in it that I wouldn’t use or it’s just it doesn’t fit. So I think the first thing is to have clearly defined lane that you stay in. So it’s kind of like, okay, I’m gonna stay in this lane. And then if you’re going through like scrolling through reels or tick tock and you do see something that you’re like, Oh, I really like that audio, ask yourself, Does this fit inside my lane, can I make it work and not in a forced way, but in a way where it’s like, okay, I can use this audio bit, maybe put text on it that has something to do with my audience or my niche or a piece of content that I want to share or talk about, or you could find a create your own audio. So there’s kind of there’s I say three different versions, there’s, you know, music, so where you go in, and maybe you have like a trending song, or you can search for like a popular song. And you can do like music and maybe your either pointing or like showing something or showing a product that you have, you know, or showing a video of something, you know, maybe without your face in it. And then there is the lip sync, which is where you have like a fun little phrase or saying or a quote from a movie or a TV show, and you’re mouthing the words, you know, and applying it to your niche. And then there’s the one where you’re creating your own original audio. So those are the ones where maybe you have a tip you want to share. So if you want to say, hey, here’s three ways that you can XYZ, and you didn’t you, you know, very quickly give those three points. So those are kind of what I say are the three main types of like reels content pieces. And then on top of that, the other thing I would say is whatever it is you’re sharing, make it like the smallest tidbit. So go back to like your best Instagram posts, okay, that you’ve created. And maybe you shared three really great tips in that Instagram post, that’s three different reels you can create, you know, you can say tip one, the first one and then part two could be Tip two, and then part three, could be Tip three, because if you try to cram too much information into one reel, people aren’t going to read it, they’re gonna be like, Oh, that’s too much keep going. But if you just give one little piece and let that stand alone, then the next reel you can create can add to that and have a second piece to it. So stay within your lane, create content that fits your nation, your brand, don’t try to go outside of, you know what you’re kind of known for on Instagram, or on Tik Tok, and then try to keep it which is this is an issue I have because I tend to overshare things like I want to give people the firehose of information when I really just need like a little bit at a time. But try to keep it to like little bits of information at a time, so that you’re not overwhelming your audience.

Katie Brinkley 12:47

Yeah, and I think that that’s one of the things too, it’s you, as you’re putting these little bits of information on the screen, you have to remember people are trying to read has these, these. So I mean, if you have a long, you know sentence there, I’d like to think of it as kind of like a headline, each of the little clips that you’re pushing up there because these are going by like at a second, second and a half, and someone has to be able to read all that and then start digesting the next text bubble. So I think that one of the biggest things that you said too, is showcasing these different ways that you can show up in reels and the number, there’s a couple of ways to do it. And I think that, you know, you do a lot of showcasing your business’s personality and values, like you said, you work with a lot of mompreneurs. And people trying to take their side hustle to their main hustle. And so you showcase a lot of your business’s personalities and values. I feel like I watch your reels. And I know exactly who you work with, what type of mom you are, what type of business owner you are. And that all comes out in a 15 second clip. So that’s one way you can also educate your audience. So giving them different tips and tactics to showcase why you are an expert, and then highlighting the differences between you and your competitors. This is the million dollar question Kendra. And I know you talked about it a little bit like with a past posts and taking that post and making it into three separate reels. But if someone is like, Alright, you’ve convinced me that I need to try and do this reals, this tic tock thing. How do you gain the inspiration or kind of get some of those ideas for what? What to even put in a real? Because I think that’s one of the hardest things is trying to figure out patients should I talk and tell people a tip about this strategy or this product offering? What would be your advice somebody that’s just getting started with Rails.

Kendra Swalls 14:35

So okay, I have a couple of tips here that have helped me and I will say I’ll preface this by saying the more you do this, the more your brain starts to think in this way and you’ll find yourself creating real ideas driving down the road listening to the radio. But to start with I would say one is find other people similar to your niche who are doing reels and look to them. For inspiration Now, that doesn’t mean copy what they’re doing exactly. But find somebody else like, again, for me, I can find another other people who are doing kind of that mompreneur space. And I can see, okay, what trends have they found that have worked for their niche? What information? Are they sharing? How are they sharing it? What songs or sound are they using, and use the save feature. So when you’re in Instagram, and you’re scrolling through reels, you know, if you’re planning to create content, and create reels, then you’re no longer just scrolling for the sake of scrolling and consuming, you’re now scrolling as a form of research. And so when you find one that you’re like, Oh, this is a really great audio, I love how she has kind of put her own twist on it. Or do I really like this topic, let me see if there’s a way I could use this topic with a different sound, save that real, you know, you can click the little three dots on the far on the bottom right hand corner of the reel, and it will let you save it. And then you can go back to your all your saved ones. And that way, when you’re ready to actually like create the reel, you can go look at, you know, okay, what what did I save? And why did I save that? And then, so scrolling through reels, looking at what other people are doing. And then like I said earlier, you’re going back into your own content, you know, I think sometimes we post something, and then we move on. And we forget, like, go back and look at what you did and look at your insight to go, Hey, what are my top posts that people have really resonated with? And how can I rephrase that repurpose that content into a real, because obviously, you know, if you’re talking about, I don’t know how to try to have a good topic here. But if you’re trying if your top post was okay, here is a tip for being more productive. In your work day, when you have kids at home with you, then, you know, okay, my audience needs more of this. So let me figure out how I can create different reels, they’re going to showcase productivity in a fun, creative, different way. And you can create two or three reels around that one topic. Another thing you can do is if going through again, scrolling through reels, if you hear a sound that you really like, click on the little audio box in the bottom right corner, and then you can you’ll it’ll pull up a page where all the different reels that have been created using that sound, and go through and look at how other people use the sound in different ways. If everybody’s using it in the same exact way, try to put a different spin on it, because that’s going to help you stand out using that same you know, sound. So I think that you know, and tick tock again, if you’re scrolling on reels, go scroll on tick tock too, because a lot of times the trends that we see on reels came from tick tock at some point. So get on tick tock and scroll through there and save those trending audios and reels as well. But again, I think it just takes practice, because now like I’ll be driving down the road, a song Oh, come on. And I’m like, ooh, that would be a really fun song to use for this video. And I’ll type it into the Notes app on my phone and kind of keep a running idea log in my notes app of like, okay, I had this idea, either to talk about this or to use this audio or to do this certain, whatever it is a transition or a fun little thing inside the video. So just keeping track of that and your brain will start to notice them and thinking that way, the more you do it.

Katie Brinkley 18:19

Well, and I think that, like you said, it’s a great tool to look at tick tock to see kind of what’s trending over there in order to get inspiration for your Instagram reels. And this is one of the biggest things I want to stress is that you don’t need to just pick one or the other. I know that Kendra you shared that one of your videos on Instagram kind of just did. But over on Tik Tok, it exploded. And this is where if you’re making if you’re spending the time to create these videos, you absolutely need to be saving them and sharing them to both platforms. Because right now, they’re it’s a neck and neck tie on which one of these is really going to be faced Mark Zuckerberg really, really wants to get rid of tick tock but they’re hanging around. And so until they’re gone or something else happens. You have to make sure that you’re getting the real estate on both those platforms and getting as much ice as possible.

Kendra Swalls 19:12

Yeah, and you never know. Yeah, you never know what’s like you said what’s gonna resonate, you know, some things resonate better on Tik Tok than they do on Instagram. And vice versa. You know, I’ve had one do really well on Instagram and completely flop on Tik Tok. And then like you said I had one that’s I think it’s almost at 400,000 views on Tik Tok, and it has like, maybe 600 views on Instagram, so it didn’t do so. You know, but no, and it’s exactly the exact same Yeah, nothing I did not change a single thing. Yeah. It’s you just never know what’s gonna really in the moment and I think that’s the thing too is, you know, with reels and with tick tock, I think you could have somebody create the same exact reel today and post it and it might do really, really well. And then six months from now, they could post the exact same one and it’s not going to do that well. So it’s it’s kind of sad. Like, that’s why, with Instagram and Tiktok, it’s sometimes it’s about the trends, you know, you kind of have to follow some of the trends that are going on, because those get more visibility and things like that. And once that trend dies off, you know, it kind of moves on to the next thing. And so for someone who is trying really hard for whole life to not jump on a bandwagon, that’s been a bit of an interesting, you know, thing, trying to like, jump on trends and make them your own. But then again, it also becomes kind of this fun challenge of like, okay, this is this trend, what can I do that’s different? And that will stand out that maybe not everybody else is doing or thinking or seeing it in that way.

Katie Brinkley 20:38

Exactly. Well, and that’s one of the things too, I’ve worked with a number of my clients on because it’s like, okay, well, I’ll send you some videos that you can kind of gain inspiration from and like, I just, I don’t know, if I’m really like a trendy person. And that is fine. But what is the it’s trending for a reason. And if you want to be, have the opportunity to be seen, or have your video get pushed out into these algorithms, you got to try and jump on to some of the trends. And I’m not again saying to have all of your videos be the trending ones. But if you want to have that opportunity for potential growth, doing these trending audios, or the trending videos will help boost you in the algorithm.

Kendra Swalls 21:19

Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be accidentally every video doesn’t have to be a trending sound. Now, you know, I think that is what some accounts have done. But yeah, if you can, every couple of videos needs to be a trend. And then the other ones can be true to you know, either you creating your own audio or just using something you know, that will resonate with your audience. But those trends are, they’re powerful when you get them right.

Katie Brinkley 21:41

Yeah. Well, Kendra, this has been such a great conversation you and I feel like could talk about Instagram and reels and tick tock trends and everything at length, I have to have you come back to the show again Sunday. But I know that you have this new Instagram audit that you are allowing on a limited basis every month. So if people want to reach out to you and have any questions on reels or any Instagram audit questions, how’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Kendra Swalls 22:09

Yeah, so they can find me on Instagram at girl means business. They can send me a DM and ask questions or you can DM me the word audit and I’ll send you information about the Instagram audits. And I do when I do those Instagram audits, I will look at your reels and kind of give you feedback on what you’re doing well or what you can improve on or suggestions that I have. That’s part of that whole audit that I do with your account. And then you can find me at grumblings business calm which is kind of the home base. I’ve got podcast information, they I’ve got more information on other resources I have available too. So you can always find me over there.

Katie Brinkley 22:41

Awesome. Well, any final takeaways that you want to leave our listeners with? Before we wrap up here? This has been like I said, a great conversation. Yeah, I

Kendra Swalls 22:49

just want to say one more thing, which is kind of this idea that people think that they don’t have the confidence needed to create video. And so when I can just give a little bit of inspiration here and say that when I first created my very first real I was like, I’m never putting my face on video I don’t want to be I will take pictures because I can Photoshop those, you know, and being a photographer, I’m behind the camera person, but it wasn’t. I didn’t have competence going into creating reels, the reels because I’ve continued to create reels on a regular basis, I have gained competence. And so much so that I actually am going to be posting a dancing video coming up pretty soon in my reels where I’m actually going to dance in my video, which I swore I would never do. But again, like I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m so comfortable creating them and putting them out there that I’m like, if I look ridiculous doing this dance totally fine, I’m still gonna do it because I had fun creating it. So don’t wait to feel competent to do it, do it and gain the confidence from doing it.

Katie Brinkley 23:49

You know, and I think that that is a great final tip because it’s not all of us from made feel like video is for us. Yeah, I want to be by more of a behind the camera sort of person. But your people are going to, they’re going to stick with you there. You’re going to find your tribe. And you know, I’m not for everyone. You’re not for everyone. But finding your tribe and your loyal people, your biggest fans, they are going to be excited every time you show up in the feed, and they’re gonna look forward to every post that you put out there. So love that final thought from you, Kendra, thank you again so much for coming on the show today.

Kendra Swalls 24:22

Thank you happy to do it anytime.

Katie Brinkley 24:24

One of the biggest things that I want to highlight from today’s episode is that short form video needs to be a part of your social media strategy. There’s a reason why Facebook is pushing it out onto Facebook. Even though it’s an Instagram feature. There is a reason why Instagram is pushing it out into the feeds of people that don’t even follow you. It’s has a huge spot in the algorithm for both Facebook and Instagram. And we’ve all seen how much tick tock has exploded because people can’t get enough of this bite sized video. It can be hard to show up on video trust me there’s there’s a reason why I became a radio reporter instead of going into TV, I understand how difficult it can be to show your face but what Kendra said at the end of today’s episode is extremely important to keep in mind the more you do it, the more confident you’ll get. And the more you will build the right audience, you will cultivate your own community of people who will be your biggest supporters who will be your biggest fans and those people will come from seeing you show up consistently on these short form video pieces of content again, showing up and utilizing these Instagram reels. some final tips for Instagram reels that I want to give you before you decide to head out there and hit hit the record button conduct research first. I mean, Instagram reels might be a new feature, but creators have already created countless video clips. Look at who your target audiences and spend some time watching reels popular among that demographic. Also, you should create a storyboard. You know not reels are different than stories. They don’t need to be spontaneous. So if you’re new to reels, sit down and kind of figure out how you want to have your reel show up. You have a full 30 seconds I know I keep mentioning 15 But you do have a full 30 seconds to play with to make sure that your reels are a success and that you can make sure you have maximum impact when you push that reel out there to the masses. Another tip practice makes perfect exactly what Kendra said the more you do these reels, the more confidence you will get and the faster you will get at creating them the more ideas that you’ll have. Another tip forget the hard selling reels are not about pushing your product or service on the video onto your viewers. This is your opportunity to really showcase your brand, your personality, what makes you different. Instead of advertising a discount or telling viewers to go to your website, you have to create valuable content. This is what is going to help your video get more reach and build your following that you’re looking to create. Lastly, as Kendra said, repurpose your content. If you’ve made a carousel post if you’ve pushed out a great blog, there’s no reason to recreate the wheel content that you’ve pushed out already that has been successful was successful for a reason. So repurpose it. If you’re stuck looking for ideas, look at other social media posts that you’ve already pushed out that have garnered significant traction and it’s even worth going through your website and seeing which blog posts have done the most organic traffic then try and just brainstorm a way to communicate that post or that blog through a 15 to 32nd meal. Now get out there, turn the camera around step in front of it and let’s see what type of video you can produce. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.