5. Reel Rules + Frameworks

How to make videos that stand out, build credibility, and attract leads.

How to come up with Reel ideas that wow your audience

Lesson Highlights

Reel rules to follow and simple frameworks to make it easy

Making videos that stand out and make you look like an expert

Download the workbook to help you brainstorm and create content here!

Instagram Reels has quickly become a powerful tool for capturing attention, engaging audiences, and showcasing creativity on the platform. With its short-form video format and interactive features, Reels offers real estate agents an exciting opportunity to connect with their audience, highlight properties, and establish their brand presence in an engaging way.

Instagram Reels Rules and Best Practices

With features like music, effects, and text overlays, Reels offers an amazing opportunity to reach your audience, and tap into your creativity. Whether you’re sharing property tours, offering tips and advice, or showcasing behind-the-scenes glimpses, Reels provides a platform to capture attention and drive engagement on Instagram. While there’s no wrong way to make a Reel, there are a few best practices you’ll want to consider:

1. Keep It Short and Sweet: With a maximum length of 60 seconds, Reels are designed to be short and snappy. Keep your content concise and focused to maintain viewer interest and maximize engagement.


2. Be Creative and Authentic: Use Reels as an opportunity to showcase your creativity and personality. Experiment with different effects, transitions, and music tracks to create visually compelling content that resonates with your audience.


3. Showcase Properties: Use Reels to showcase properties in an engaging and interactive way. Offer virtual tours, highlight key features, and provide insights into the local neighborhood to pique viewers’ interest and generate leads. Even if you don’t have listings of your own, make it a point to schedule agent previews and film the property, with permission of the listing agent.


4. Provide Value: Offer valuable content that educates, entertains, or inspires your audience. Share tips for homebuyers and sellers, offer insights into the real estate market, or provide behind-the-scenes glimpses into your day-to-day life as a real estate agent.


5. Use Hashtags and Captions: Incorporate relevant hashtags and captions into your Reels to increase discoverability and engagement. Use trending hashtags and location tags to expand your reach and connect with a broader audience.

Show Your Face… Or Not!

By putting a face to your brand, you humanize your content and build trust with your audience, making them more likely to engage, interact, and ultimately, convert. That being said, it’s not the only way to tell a compelling story on Instagram Reels. Not showing your face and using visual story telling with clips of your topics the Reel discusses allows the viewer to focus on the content itself, rather than the person delivering it. 

Some agents really don’t feel comfortable being in-front of the camera and that’s okay! Do what feels natural to you, mix face-forward and face-less Reels – it’s all ultimately your choice and one isn’t better than the other.

Pros of Videos That Show Your Face:

  • Builds Authenticity: Showing your face in Reels allows you to authentically connect with your audience, showcasing the person behind the brand and fostering genuine relationships.

  • Increases Engagement: Human faces are attention-grabbing and engaging, leading to higher levels of interaction, likes, comments, and shares on your Reels.

  • Establishes Authority: By putting yourself in front of the camera, you position yourself as an expert in your field, establishing authority and credibility with your audience.

Pros of Not Showing Your Face:

  • Focuses on Content: By not showing your face, you can direct the focus of your Reels solely on the content itself, allowing you to showcase products, demonstrate techniques, or share tips and tutorials without distractions.
  • Promotes Versatility: Not showing your face in Reels allows for greater versatility in content creation, as you’re not limited by your appearance or the need to be on camera. This can lead to more creative and diverse content ideas.
  • Appeals to Wider Audience: Some viewers may prefer content that doesn’t feature a person on camera, making your Reels more appealing and accessible to a broader audience.

Effective Reel Frameworks

Once you have your topic or idea for your Reel (refer back to your content pillars from Lesson 3: Creating Content for help coming up with ideas), next you need a hook. A hook is simply the wording you use to hook the viewers attention, and on a Reel it’s the first thing you see.

So how do you take your idea and turn it into a scroll-stopping hook? Use some of these ideas to get the juices flowing:

  • Struggling with __? Then try ___
  • Don’t fall for ___. Do this instead.
  • Is it just me or does ___?
  • The secret to___ is ___
  • Why is no one talking about __?
  • 3 simple steps to __
  • Are you tired of [problem]? This is the answer.
  • ____ is the most UNDERRATED ____
  • What NOT to do when ____

3 basic types of Reel frameworks:

The List
For “The List” framework you’ll keep it simple by starting out with your hook as the initial text (this will also be what you want shown on your Reel Cover) and a few seconds later adding a list for whatever you were talking about. This is great to do for listing the best places to grab a bite to eat in your town, your top maintenance tips for the season, or any other “list” you can think of!


The Walkthrough
This is where you’ll do a list, but instead of all at once you space it out with each text element having its own video clip. This is helpful if you’re showing features in a home and you want to show the kitchen, then the living room, the backyard perfect for having your friends over, etc. Or if you are sharing steps to do something.


The Hook + Point
This framework is the simplest of all because you’re sharing less information in the actual video and pointing people to read more in your caption. Share your video with the hook text on it, then a few seconds later share another text block that says “Read more in the caption” or “Learn more in the caption below!”

You’ll want to use a mix of all 3 of these frameworks to add variety to your Reels, and it will also allow you to see which type performs best for you. If The List gets you the most views and engagement, do more lists! You’ll also want to take into account your topic and hook, some frameworks will work better for some over others.

Last on your Reel creation to-do list is writing a caption that’s full of value. There are two reasons you do should do this:

  • It gives you major credibility and shows how knowledgeable you are
  • While people are reading your caption, the Reel will be playing and looping in the background over and over again. This signals to Instagram that your Reel is popular and valuable, therefore showing it to more people and boosting your reach.

To write a caption full of value, follow the steps outlined in Lessons 3 & 4. To quickly reiterate them, center your content on one of your content pillars and write a compelling caption with your audience in mind and that speaks to your dream client. Use keywords within your caption and hashtags at the end of it to make your Reel more searchable and increase the likelihood of Instagram showing it to the right people. Writing a caption for a Reel is pretty much the same as writing one for a post, but you’re going to include your hook in the actual video rather than the caption.

Regardless of what framework you choose and how much information you share in the video, you’ll want to repeat and expand on that same information in the caption. No short, weak captions! You want to provide lots of value and keep people reading so your video loops and you get more views and signal to the Instagram algorithm that its a valuable Reel that more people need to see.

Creating Reels doesn’t have to be difficult! Just come up with a topic the same way you’re coming up with post topics/content (refer back to content pillars in Lesson 3) then use a hook to grab your viewer’s attention, before wrapping it up with a value-rich caption that keeps the viewer reading and the video looping in the background.

Content Ideas For Reels

While the number of Reel content ideas you can have is infinite, below I’ve listed a few to get you started.


It’s helpful to have a starting point, but don’t limit yourself to this list! You might find that once you get going, you’ll start to think of ideas throughout the day, depending on what you’re doing. That’s great! Write them down in a note on your phone and save them for later so you can refer back to your content pillars and course notes and craft the perfect Reel around your ideas.

Reel Ideas:

Property Tours: Showcase different properties in your portfolio with short, engaging tours highlighting key features and amenities. 

Before and After: Create a before-and-after Reel showcasing the transformation of a property through renovation or staging.

Client Testimonials: Share client testimonials and success stories in Reels format, featuring satisfied clients sharing their experiences working with you.

Neighborhood Highlights: Highlight different neighborhoods and communities in your area, showcasing local attractions, schools, restaurants, and amenities.

Tips and Advice: Offer valuable tips and advice for homebuyers and sellers, covering topics such as mortgage options, home staging tips, and negotiation strategies.

Market Trends: Share insights into the real estate market, including trends, forecasts, and analysis, to educate and inform your audience.

Behind-the-Scenes: Provide behind-the-scenes glimpses into your day-to-day life as a real estate agent, showcasing client meetings, property viewings, and team collaborations. People love these Reels and find them very interesting. Think of it like reality TV – people just enjoy getting a glimpse into the lives of others!

Virtual Tours: Offer virtual tours of properties with Reels, providing viewers with a comprehensive look at the property’s layout, design, and features.

Property Comparisons: Compare different properties side by side, highlighting their similarities and differences in terms of price, location, size, and amenities.

Local Hotspots: Share Reels featuring popular local attractions, parks, restaurants, and events to give viewers a taste of the lifestyle in your area.

Homeowner Tips: Provide practical tips and advice for homeowners, covering topics such as home maintenance, DIY projects, and landscaping ideas.

Highlight Reel: Create a highlight reel featuring the best moments from your property tours, some of the hottest properties on the market, client interactions, or behind-the-scenes footage.

Seasonal Themes: Create Reels around seasonal themes, such as holiday home decor, spring cleaning tips, or summer outdoor living inspiration.

Educational Series: Launch a series of Reels covering different aspects of the home buying or selling process, providing valuable information and guidance to your audience.

Open House Invitations: Use Reels to promote upcoming open houses and invite viewers to attend, showcasing the property’s highlights and features.

B-Roll Clips

When you’re creating your Reels you will obviously need video clips for them. While you can shoot videos that are specific to your topic, like if you’re showing off a specific property in a Property Tour Reel, a Property Comparison Reel or an Open House Invitation. You will also want a stockpile of B-Roll footage. That is, video clips that support your topic. You can take these video clips as you see the opportunity, or you can schedule out time in your day and go take as many B-Roll shots as you can! I promise, it’s not as complicated as it seems. 

Always make sure you’re filming videos vertically so they fill the whole screen in your Reel! Try some of these ideas:


  • Typing at your desk, shot from the front or side
  • Typing on your computer, shot from behind to see you working on a listing or marketing materials
  • Taking a phone call
  • Working on contracts or paperwork
  • Gathering your materials to go to a listing
  • Writing on a pad of paper or in a journal
  • Driving in your car
  • Decorating a listing (fluffing pillows, arranging decor)
  • Opening the door to a listing
  • Arranging materials for an open house
  • Putting together a pop-by gift or thank you gift for a past client

Lifestyle Activities:

  • Having a coffee at a local coffee shop
  • Working out
  • Walking through the park or on a trail
  • Visiting the local farmer’s market
  • Eating at a restaurant
  • Sipping a cocktail at a local trendy bar
  • Cooking at home
  • Reading on your porch
  • Walking your dog
  • Organizing a room in your home
  • Relaxing & enjoying your backyard
  • Drinking your morning coffee


  • Home tours
  • Close-up shots of unique or pretty features
  • Backyard and outdoor spaces
  • Architectural details or focal points
  • Clips of the home exterior from different angles
  • Slow pan videos of individual rooms (especially big selling points like the kitchen, master bathroom, living room and backyard)
  • The neighborhood and any of its community amenities
  • Cozy yet cinematic shots of natural light streaming through the windows
  • Close-up shots of high-end finishes and fixtures, such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and hardwood floors

Local Clips:

  • You walking past a cute restaurant
  • Drive by of a beautiful home
  • Beautiful neighborhoods or residential areas
  • Interesting focal points around town, whether it’s a mural a statue or just a pretty building
  • You walking in the downtown
  • Seasonal decor
  • Downtown area
  • Local events & happenings
  • Shopping in boutiques & shops

Strategy: Set up a tripod and film a few of these ideas above. Then do it again in a couple of weeks with a new outfit and new activities. This will give you some good B-Roll to work with!

Using Trending Audio

Trending audio on Instagram Reels acts as a magnet for engagement and visibility. When you use popular songs or audio clips that are currently trending, you increase the likelihood of your content being discovered by a wider audience and really boosting your views. This is super important for your engage content since you’re trying to reach as many people as possible!

Trending audio can also add a layer of familiarity and relatability to your content, making it more appealing and shareable among your followers and beyond.

How to Find Trending Audio

There are currently 2 ways to find trending audio, with one being slowly rolled out and only available to certain accounts at the time of writing this (and hopefully available to the rest of us soon!)

Finding Trending Audio Way #1:

  • Within the Instagram app, tap the Reels button at the bottom of your screen (between the Create (+) button and your profile icon)
  • Scroll through the Reels and find the trending audios by looking at the bottom of the screen where you can see the name of the audio used. If there is an arrow ↗ to the left of the audio name, this audio is trending. Click on it and select Use Audio if you want to make a Reel from it right away, or click the save button at the top right of the screen (the bookmark looking button) to save it for later. Just make sure you use it as soon as you can and verify it’s still trending before using it in a Reel. 
  • Verify by checking under the audio name and making sure it still says ↗Trending (like in the screenshot below)

Finding Trending Audio Way #2:

  • Within the Instagram app, tap the Create (+) button at the bottom of your screen and choose REEL
  • Tap the Audio button at the top of the screen — it should be between the camera/drafts and audio tab.

Save all of the trending audios you like so you can access them later. Access them later while making your Reel by clicking the Audio button, then selecting Saved in the audio library.

Our favorite way to make Reels is to put together the video, hook + caption and then add the audio last to see which feels like it fits the Reel best overall. 

Making Videos That Stand Out

Creating Reels and videos that stand out on Instagram requires a combination of creativity, authenticity, and strategic thinking. In addition to the value-driven content I’ve come up with using Lessons 3 & 4, there are a few more tips to make your Reels stand out in regards to the actual video.

Slow & Steady

Slow, panning shots are your friend. They can be used for so many different Reels and are visually appealing. When you’re making videos, whether they’re showcasing an actual property or they’re being used for a different type of Reel, take slow, panning shots of the room or scene. This means taking a steady video and moving slowly horizontally to get a full view of the space.

Edit & Enhance

It’s always a good idea to edit your videos, especially if they’re a little too dark or too bright (which can be common problems if you’re filming inside or outside!) I love using the phone app Lightroom. It’s inexpensive and allows you to edit videos right on your phone and make them look amazing! If you have an iPhone, you can also edit the brightness and color, as well as remove the audio by clicking the Edit button on your video.

Tell Compelling Stories

Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing attention and engaging your audience on Instagram. Whether it’s through personal anecdotes, customer testimonials, or narrative-driven content, strive to tell compelling stories that evoke emotion, spark curiosity, and leave a lasting impression on your viewers. Focus on creating narratives that are authentic, relatable, and meaningful to your audience.

Showcase Properties Creatively

One of the most effective ways to stand out on Instagram as a real estate agent is by showcasing properties creatively in your Reels and videos. Instead of simply filming walkthroughs (which are great and definitely have a place in your Reel strategy!), get creative with your approach by incorporating dynamic shots, drone footage, time-lapse sequences, and engaging storytelling techniques. Highlight key features, unique selling points, and the lifestyle potential of each property to capture the imagination of potential buyers. Use a mix of simple walkthroughs and more creative shots in different Reels to vary your content.

Reel Covers

Now for the easy part! You’ve put together your Reel with a great video, killer hook, and a value-packed caption. Now it’s time to add a Reel Cover. 

You have two options for Reel Covers, you can create one and upload it separately or you can just select a moment in your Reel video as the cover. Both are fine and it really comes down to your preference. At Restate Social, we do a mixture of both but tend to opt for an uploaded cover so that it really pops on our Instagram profile feed and makes people want to click and learn more by watching it!

How to Add a Reel Cover:

This is an option you can select from the same page as where you enter your caption before publishing. Just select Edit Cover (see the image below) then Add From Camera Roll. Then select your cover.

If you don’t want to add a Reel cover you’ve created in Canva or elsewhere, you can just select one from the video. Select Edit Cover and drag the selection bar to a part in the video that includes your hook – but not anything else! You want to generate intrigue so when people are scrolling through the Explore page of Instagram, they click on your Reel because they want to see the answer or the extra information your hook promises.

Reel Cover Best Practices:

A visually appealing Reel cover can make your content stand out in a crowded feed, increase click-through rates, and ultimately, attract more viewers to your Reels. To make a great cover:

Choose a High-Quality Image: Start by selecting a high-quality image for your Reel cover that accurately represents the content of your video. Choose a clear, visually appealing image that showcases the property or concept featured in your Reel.

Add Text As Your Hook: Add your hook as text to your Reel cover to provide context and to entice people to click on it and watch. Use bold, easy-to-read fonts and eye-catching colors or strong contrast (i.e. black text on a light background, or white text on a dark background) to grab the viewer’s attention.

Keep it Simple and Uncluttered: Avoid cluttering your Reel cover with too much text or visual elements. Keep the design clean, simple, and easy to understand, allowing viewers to quickly grasp the content of your Reel at a glance.

Maintain Brand Consistency: Ensure that your Reel cover aligns with your brand identity and visual style. Use consistent colors, fonts, and branding elements to reinforce your brand identity and create a cohesive look and feel across all your Reels. Once you have a solid Reel design, use it for all of your Reels with variations. This will keep your feed interesting but will still look cohesive (see an example below).

How to Make a Reel Cover in Canva:

A visually appealing Reel cover can make your content stand out in a crowded feed, increase click-through rates, and ultimately, attract more viewers to your Reels. To make a great cover:

  1. Choose a Template: Start by selecting a template for your Reel cover or start from scratch. Canva offers a variety of pre-designed templates specifically optimized for Instagram Reels. 
  2. Customize Your Design: Once you’ve chosen a template, customize it to fit your brand and style – match the feel of your posts and keep with that design style, since they’ll all be shown together on your feed. Upload your own images, change the colors and fonts, add a logo if you want, and add text or graphics to make the design your own.
  3. Download: Once you’re satisfied with your Reel cover design, download the design in a JPEG or PNG file. Then upload it within the Instagram app when you’ve created your Reel.

The Plan

Now that we know how to create awesome Reels, here’s your game plan:

1. Use your workbook and come up with your content ideas

2. Take those ideas and turn them into hooks that will grab people’s attention and stop the scroll

3. Decide which of the 3 frameworks you’re going to use.

4. Shoot your video or use B-Roll you already have

5. Edit your video (if necessary) in Lightroom or another app

6. Create a Reel within Instagram and add your video(s)

7. Add your text (your hook) and make it stand out enough against the background to easily read

8. Add your trending audio and any other text elements

9. Write a compelling caption that provides lots of value and keeps the viewer reading so the video is looping repeatedly in the background. Don’t forget to add relevant and local hashtags at the end of your caption!

10. Create a Reel cover in Canva then upload it to Instagram or select a cover from the video itself

11. Publish or schedule your Reel

Note: We’ll be discussing how to boost and get more views on your Reels with affordable advertising strategies in Lesson 7.

Bonus Tip: If you want templates that do all of the strategy and design-work done for you, join the Restate Social monthly membership for daily social media posts + captions.

Download and use your workbook if you haven’t already, to clearly define the concepts in this section before moving on to the next!