Instagram is obsessed trying to make Reels happen, much like Gretchen tried desperately to get “Fetch” going in Mean Girls.

Instagram has given Reels users an algorithm boost and prioritized Reels on feeds. Now, the platform has launched what is essentially a recycling program. Users can easily repurpose Instagram Stories highlights into Reels with just a few taps.

We’ve learned a lot from all kinds of shiny new social media features over time (ahem, Twitter Fleets), that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

We aren’t convinced that reposting old Stories in Reels will make us any better. Hootsuite Experiments lets the data decide.

So, once more, I am donning my hard hat, and I descend into the social media analytics mines in search of solid-gold proof as to whether or not Instagram is worth it.

Does repurposing Stories highlights to Reels work? Let’s find the answer.

Bonus Get the 10-Day Reels Challenge for free. is a daily workbook with creative prompts that will get you started with Instagram Reels and help you track your growth. You can also see results across all your Instagram accounts.


Reels made from old stories don’t get the same engagement or reach as brand new Reels

Instagram makes it easy to repurpose old Instagram Stories into new Reels. It takes just a few taps to transform an old Story into ‘new content’.

However, we believe that brand-new, original Reels will perform better and earn more engagement.

Instagram’s ultimate goal is to create a hub of engaging content that is entertaining and engaging. It’s the driving force behind everything in the Instagram algorithm. Rewarding users who recycle or rehash old content doesn’t seem to align with the platform’s grand vision.

We’re glad to be proved wrong! It makes us feel alive! I will be testing if repurposing Stories as Reels is the best way to increase Instagram engagement.


I decided to post some “fresh” Reels and some repurposed Stories, and compare their reach & engagement.

To create my new Reels, the first thing I did was to pull some videos and photos from my camera rolls, layer on some effects and hit Publish. (New to Reels?) These are the steps to making your own!

For my repurposed Stories I followed the instructions in this Hootsuite Labs tutorial. This meant going through my archived Stories to find the Stories I wanted and adding them to a new Highlight.

Five different Highlights were created for this project. I opened each Highlight and tapped the three dots in the bottom right corner. Then, I tapped Convert To Reel.

The Reels editor was then opened. I could change the music, add filters or stickers to the film. I was also able to delete scenes.

I did my edits and added a quick caption to each one before sending my babies out into this world.

In total, I published five new Reels and five repurposed-from-Stories Reels. Then I waited for a few days to see if they were successful.


TL;DR. My repurposed Reels were slightly less reachable than my original Reels. Reels with authentic, personal content had the greatest impact.

Remember that I posted five Reels from Highlights as well as five original Reels. Here’s how engagement and reach worked for each style:

Type of reel Total Views Total Likes
Highlight repurposed 120 4
Brand New Reels 141 7

My most loved Reels from this batch were authentic, and personal. One of them was having the best day in my life at a mascot festival. Another was me performing comedy and a reveal about my recent renovation.

Impersonal travel videos were the most successful reels. It’s nice to know that people care more about me than endangered elephants or beautiful beaches.

There didn’t seem a clear benefit to publishing Reels from Stories Highlights. It was the content, not the way I built the Reel that mattered.

What does the result mean?

Do I feel humiliated that no one seemed to care about my Reel beach-scape? Yes. Nevertheless, this experiment brought out some valuable lessons and reflections.

Authenticity the ultimate algorithm hack

Instagram rewards users who take a chance on new features with an algorithmic boost. But it all comes down to this: Great Content is the secret to success.

Engaging content that your followers find interesting will get you more engagement than any algorithmic boost. To get the most out Instagram, you should focus on creating engaging, valuable posts, Stories, and Reels.

Insights cannot be obtained from Highlights… but you can obtain Insights via Reels

You can see the number and likes of each Instagram Story but not how many people see your Highlights.

This means that you can measure the reach and engagement of a particular combination of Stories.

Highlights is a useful compilation tool

Your Highlights to collect content over a long time could be very useful.

For example, I spent 22 hours working on my apartment renovation last summer and was adding all my posts about it to one Highlight. Instead of searching through my camera roll to create a dramatic Reel about the experience I could convert all that sweet, drywall-encrusted content into a tidy Reel with just a few taps. Studies have shown that music can help to ease the pain of construction trauma.

That’s enough from me! Stop looking for shortcuts to Instagram success. Instead, start creating amazing Reels that reflect your brand voice while delighting your audience. You may never again feel the need to hack the system.

Hootsuite’s dashboard makes it easy to schedule and manage Reels. Schedule Reels to go live when you’re OOO, post at a best time (even if your fast asleep), and track your reach, likes and shares.

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Experiment: Does turning stories into reels actually work? The post Experiment: Does Turning Stories Into Reels Actually Work? appeared first on Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard.