Perhaps you’ve noticed that the photos you share to social media no longer pull in the types of engagement they used to. And because of the algorithm that decides who gets to see your content, fewer people seem to find your photos in 2022.
You’re not alone. Instagram, owned by Facebook parent Meta, and the social network itself have shifted to a focus on video over stills. This is in response to the huge success of rival TikTok, which has become the most popular social network for young people. It’s the most downloaded social media app on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play, according to Apptopia.
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If you’re not handy with creating video, don’t worry. You can greatly improve your social media standing by making little video slideshows from your photos, using tools that Instagram and TikTok offer for free.
And the good news: They’re easy to do.
Before we get started, try taking a bunch of photos in the vertical format, say five or 10 images. They will look best for the slideshows, which are showcased vertically because that’s the way most people hold their mobile phones.
Making Instagram Reels
Reels are little videos, up to 90 seconds long, that you can create in Instagram. They show up in your feed of content.
To make a Reel, click the + button at the top right, next to the heart and notifications tab, and select Reel. If it’s your first time doing this, you’ll have to allow Instagram to access your camera and microphone.
You can record a new Reel on the spot by clicking the white record button and recording live video. But for our purposes, we want to create a Reel from your photo library, so select the bottom left thumbnail, the one with a circled + in it. This will take you to your photo library.
Click the top right icon, which looks like a square with a border. This allows you to select multiple photos. Pick the photos you want to use, starting with the one you want to be seen first. When you’re finished, click Next.
Instagram will suggest music for a soundtrack with a roster of songs that the algorithm has decided could fit with your photos. Instagram will automatically sync the music to your pictures.
You also can search for different songs to add. Meta has licensing deals with many of the major labels, allowing the short use of songs in Reels. But you won’t be able to use more than 30 to 60 seconds of a song. If your video is longer, you’ll need to accept the pre-selected, royalty-free song, which will last longer.
You can post the slideshow as is or fine-tune it.
Instagram asks if you would like to edit the clips. You can make the photos appear on the screen for shorter or longer by dragging a slider on the outside of the clip. You can also add a clip or two or reorder the photos. Have fun.
When you’re finished, you create a title for the video, add tags to help it be found and click Share.
You can also click a tab to share it directly to Facebook from the Share menu.
Pro tip: You can create a Reel directly on Facebook from your mobile phone, but only with video clips. The creation process is the same, starting with selecting multiple clips, choosing an order for them and picking the music. However, on Facebook the time limit is 90 seconds.
Mix and match on TikTok
Like Instagram, the popular social network allows you to mix and match photos and videos. The time limit on your production is 10 minutes — way more liberal than with its rivals.
Open the TikTok app and choose the photos.
The music is pre-selected. If you don’t like it, click the musical note and title at the top middle of the screen to switch the selection. As on Instagram, you can also search for the song of your choice.
Once you’re satisfied, you can get creative by adding filters and TikTok effects — like putting wings on a person’s back or floating sparkles across the screen. When you’re done, click Next, title the slideshow and post.
YouTube Shorts allows only video
YouTube Shorts, like Reels, is an attempt to appeal to TikTok viewers with short, fast-paced videos. But it permits only video clips.
If you don’t like the tools social media companies offer to create Reels, Shorts and TikToks, several apps promise to speed up the process and offer more flexibility. Some of the more popular apps include InShot, Splice and Videoleap, which are all free to download but have in-app charges for expanded features.
Once you get handy with the free creation tools, remember that you can graduate up and start making videos, too, using the same tips offered here.
Jefferson Graham is a contributing writer who covers personal technology and previously was a technology columnist for USA Today. He hosts the streaming travel photography series Photowalks and is author of Video Nation: A DIY Guide to Planning, Shooting, and Sharing Great Video.