Tips for successful reels and social videos

With her reels capturing the attention of millions on social media, Laura Hannoun, the French fashion and foodie content creator behind Les Paris de Laura, shares her top tips for success.
 Social media content creator Laura Hannoun looks at the screen of a Canon EOS R6 as it points at food sitting on a table in front of her.

"I am always learning," says content creator Laura Hannoun, of her journey into video making. "I've been taking pictures for six years now, but when it comes to video I am still trying to find my own style."

The social media landscape moves fast, but there's one trend that has continued to gain traction and shows no signs of slowing down: the rise of reels. These short-form videos, which first debuted in August 2020, have quickly become a staple of online platforms, with content creators and businesses using them for reach, for engagement, and to simply say more than they can with images alone.

But not all reels are made equal, and Laura Hannoun knows this all too well. The French fashion and brunch-loving creator behind Les Paris de Laura has achieved more than 3.3 million views and 75,000 likes from her most popular reel, and counting. "I don't like to pretend to be this serious woman drinking my coffee, with the sunglasses and stuff," she says, eschewing the sophisticated French-girl stereotype. Instead, her feel-good grid is full of lighthearted content where she's nearly always smiling as she talks about everything from coffee to croissants.

Laura's social media success started with photography, but it's her reels that have garnered her biggest audiences. "It was very difficult for me to study video creation because I started with stills," she admits. "It took me a long time to learn about videos, but now I'm posting at least one or two a week. Reels are very important today, to reach new people when you want to, and to develop your account."

But as an acknowledged video novice, what can Laura teach us about creating reels with reach? Here are her key ingredients for successful reels and social videos.

Tomi Adebayo sits at a restaurant table covered in plates of food, drinking from a glass with a straw, in a photograph taken by Laura Hannoun.

For photographs, Laura takes the time to ensure the table is perfectly arranged before shooting. However, when making reels, she allows herself to be more relaxed and less of a perfectionist. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/400 sec, f/2 and ISO 1000. © Laura Hannoun

A hand pours oil over a plate of avocado on toast garnished with sundried tomatoes, in a photograph taken by Laura Hannou

Reels are ideal for capturing mouthwatering moments such as these, as a plate of food is finished to perfection. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/250 sec, f/2.5 and ISO 1000. © Laura Hannoun

1. Accept that it doesn't have to be perfect

Laura likes the authenticity of video, so she isn't going to let her food go cold in pursuit of the perfect shot. Even when she's at a restaurant to review it, she likes to enjoy herself. "When you take pictures, the single fork, the napkin, everything is on set and perfectly positioned," she says. "But when I shoot the video, I feel like I'm having more fun. It can be more alive, less perfect. So yes, you can see a little bit of someone's bag in the corner of your shot, and that's okay!"

2. Listen to the algorithm

The algorithm is always changing, so it's important to pay attention to what works. "For me, every time I create a reel involving a banana recipe – it can be banana bread, banana muffin, banana pancakes – it does so well," says Laura. "A few times, they have had more than a million views. I could cook bananas every day to improve my account. Obviously, I don't want to do that! But it's funny to see how it works." And it's not just subject matter that the algorithm can favour. "Pay attention to the recommended music," Laura continues. "Use the right tracks and that way, you'll have more reach and gain more visibility."

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3. Consume reels and write ideas down

When reflecting on where she finds her inspiration, Laura admits that she finds it in other people's feeds. "You need to scroll and just watch," she says. "I think if you want to create content that works, you need to consume videos almost every day, so that you know what's trending and what music you can use." And to mitigate the risk of forgetting things as you view tens of videos, keep a list of formed ideas. "When you find those ideas, write them down, don't just save the video. Then you'll have a list ready to go."

A pair of hands holds a smartphone showing the Canon Camera Connect app displaying a photo of food taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II

For the Canon Europe Learning Series, Laura used a Canon EOS R6 Mark II paired with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens. Whenever she's editing her work, she finds the Canon Camera Connect app useful for editing and uploading her images and reels on the go.

A close-up of a slice of pudding on a plate, next to a scoop of cream and coated in banana slices and syrup, in a shot taken by Laura Hannoun.

Laura's most popular reels often feature her demonstrating recipes, but a large number of her posts come from her trips to restaurants and enjoying brunch or treats at cafes. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 Mark II with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/160 sec, f/2.2 and ISO 250. © Laura Hannoun

4. Curate your cover images and keep things varied

"I try to create my feed six pictures in advance so that I can make sure the overall aesthetic of the feed is good," explains Laura. "When I have the final video, I make the cover image in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom before publishing." She also says that it's important to show different aspects of your brand and not focus on only one thing: "I don't post the same kind of content every day; it's not only recipes!"

5. Make your content searchable and accessible

The secondary benefit of ensuring this variety is that you can then change your hashtags. "Try to change your hashtags often," Laura advises. "Social platforms don't like it when you use the same hashtags every day."

Another tactical way to ensure your content has search visibility is by adding alt text. "Many people don't know that when you post a photo or video, you can describe what you see with the alt description," Laura explains. "It's for the visually impaired, allowing them to know what the content is – but it's also very good for search engine optimisation (SEO)." Alt text tells the algorithm what your content is about, allowing people to find your content through associated keywords. "This is something you should do with each piece of content you publish. It's quite hidden, but a good tip."

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6. Place your subtitles correctly

"The biggest mistake I notice is with subtitles," says Laura. "When you put them at the bottom of the video on social media, you can't read them because there are too many other things written on the screen there." The subtitles will get hidden by your username and the caption, so place them higher up in the video to ensure they're not obscured.

Social media content creator Laura Hannoun extends an arm holding a Canon EOS R6 Mark II pointing down at food on a table while a man sitting across the table eats his food.

Even the professionals make mistakes. "I was in a restaurant earlier and I filmed many things, such as the tables and atmosphere," says Laura. "But I forgot to film myself with the food even once!"

7. Consider the kit that gives you control and creative freedom

Laura usually uses a Canon EOS R6, but for the Canon Europe Learning Series, she had the opportunity to try out the EOS R6 Mark II. When she's photographing subjects, she shoots manually, but when it comes to video, she switches to automatic modes as this allows her to focus on the content of her shot. "The lighting changes a lot and I don't have much time to get all the shots I need, so I shoot automatic," she says. "Move slowly with the autofocus and you will get great results."

Laura records her videos vertically – not cropping them in post-production – and the vari-angle screen on the EOS R6 gives her control and the creative freedom to do this. "I really like the fact that I can move the screen," she says. "When I get, for example, the shot from the top, I can see what I'm filming, so it's very comfortable."

8. Keep your videos short and snappy

"I feel like in today's world, to create a nice video, you can't have shots that are too long," says Laura, whose videos always consist of short clips with quick transitions between them. "When I edit the video, the maximum time each shot lasts is about one second. I like it when the video is dynamic."


9. Choose a fast lens for maximum light

Laura describes her "look" as "colourful, good vibes", so her preferred lens is the RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM, which has a focal length that gives her a wide field of view and a fast aperture of f/1.8, allowing her to create light and bright images even in dimly-lit cafés.

When she's choosing a lens, the speed is a primary consideration. "I want to make sure I get light, so I always choose a lens which can catch a lot of light. I'm not always sure about what the light is going to be, so I don't want to take the risk. I want to pack the right lens."

Mastering the art of creating successful reels and social videos is within reach of anyone willing to invest time and effort. What Laura demonstrates is how the partnering of automatic settings, a healthy dose of authenticity and the ability to embrace imperfections can deliver what's needed to captivate an audience. But don't forget to enjoy yourself. "When we go to a restaurant, we are going as a client – we pay. We don't want to eat when the food is too cold," she reiterates. "I try to find the perfect timing to get everything, but I still enjoy the moment!"

For more inspiration and advice from content creators, check out the Canon Europe Learning Series playlist on YouTube.

Emma-Lily Pendleton
  1. Adobe, Lightroom and Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

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