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The Social Strategist

Instagram Reels: What makes it go viral? woman sitting on couch with computer. www.iammichellegifford.com

How to Go Viral Using Instagram Reels

Instagram, Social Media

How to Go Viral Using Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels have taken over Instagram over the last few months. This is not by accident. Every time Instagram releases a new feature, it prioritizes the feature in the algorithm, so it can collect more data, prove it is successful and get more people using it. Instagram’s new Reels feature is no different. Since Reels are still up and coming, now is the best time to learn how to go viral using Instagram Reels. 

This is great news for us as content marketers because we can use the momentum of Reels to grow our audience and get seen by more people, which should bring us new followers. 

Before we get into strategy, let’s get into the basics.  


Instagram Reels: The Basics. computer desk. www.iammichellegifford.com


The Basics

  • What are Reels?

Instagram Reels are 15-second videos where you can add effects and other creative tools to showcase yourself, or whatever your product is, to a global platform. Check out this article to learn more about what Instagram is saying about its Reels feature. 

Instagram noticed TikTok and how it became so popular, so it wanted to create something similar where you can use the feature within its app. Never before have you had access to be seen by this amount of people for free. Instagram Reels could be your answer to help you gain the following you’ve been working for! 

If you aren’t sure where to even start with using Reels, check out this blog post where I answer top questions about Instagram Reels. 

  • How are they different from Stories, IGTV and your Instagram feed?

Instagram Reels are probably most similar to Instagram Stories out of the three of these features. However, Reels are like a more sophisticated option when choosing between it and Stories. Yes, they are both short videos, but Reels can stay on your Instagram feed, do a better job at helping you gain followers, and are easier to re-share. 

If you’re wanting to gain followers, showcase a product, or grow your business it seems like Instagram Reels is your answer. 

  • How do you create a Reel?

If you click on this link, it’ll take you to a blog post where I listed it out step by step on how to create an Instagram Reel. 

Look at the Facts: How Instagram Reels Increased Following

To help show you how effective Instagram Reels can be for you, check out these statistics I gathered from people who joined me in my “Rock the Reels” challenge. 

In my Rock the Reels challenge, I asked my audience to do one Reel a day for five days. I had more than 250 people join me and I sent a survey to them after it was over.  

Here were the results:

  • 63% had an increase in engagement
  • 75% had an increase in impressions
  • 98% had an increase in accounts reached
  • 41% had more than 100% increase in accounts reached

I would bet right now no other Instagram practice can bring this much result.  

In my own experience, I’ve been using Instagram Reels consistently over the last two months and have increased my following by more than 1 thousand followers, which is really good for me since I have almost 13 thousand followers right now. That’s a 15 percent increase, which is an impressive growth for my account.

So, are you with me? You’re convinced you should be using Reels, right? So how do you create a Reel that goes viral?  

How to Go Viral using Instagram Reels. woman at a table with a computer. www.iammichellegifford.com


How to Create an Instagram Reel that Goes Viral

First, we need to know what Instagram is looking for in a good Instagram Reel.

A good Instagram Reel gets watched more than once, shared, and engaged with (comments, tags, likes).  Instagram’s whole goal is to keep people on the app.  So, they are on a constant search for content that people will want to watch–and watch over and over again.  If you can create a video that is highly valuable, that your audience loves, then yep! You are more likely to have it seen by a lot of people.

There are three main parts to a viral Instagram Reel. 

Three elements your Instagram reels need to go viral. 3 bullet list. www.iammichellegifford.com

First, having niche content. 

If you are creating content for your brand, then you need to create content your audience would love. I had a friend call me up the other day excited that her Reel had gone viral. To date, her Reel has more than 6.5 million views and she’s gained a few thousand followers. Which is awesome, but guess what, most of those views weren’t from people who want to stick around for the content she wants to make. So, even though her numbers have gone up, her post-engagement hasn’t changed.  

We have to create content that is marketed toward our target audience so we can gain the right type of followers who we can serve. When you do create for that specific audience, amazing things can happen.

Have you seen the Reels from the account, “I am Baker”? She is a food blogger and her Reels center around the funny things people say about Food Bloggers. Her videos are my favorite things to watch right now and I’m not the only one watching. Most of her videos have more than 200k views and her most viral video has 6.9 million. You can check out her account here

The reason she is getting so much attention is because her content is so niche. If you aren’t into food bloggers, then you probably won’t think they are funny.  But, because she speaks directly to her audience, she has amassed a lot of followers who are her ideal audience. That is powerful.

She also is very good at being entertaining and fun, which leads me to the second part of a viral Instagram Reel.

Second, getting people to watch it over and over again. 

The way for your Reel to go viral is for people to watch it a lot, right? Well, this is something you need to keep in mind when you are creating. Is this a Reel that someone would want to watch over and over again?  How do you know? 

People will want to watch it more than once if it is entertaining, funny, or educational.

One of my most viewed Instagram Reels is about my hashtag strategy. I crammed a lot of information into that 30 seconds so people want to watch it more than once in order to get all of the info.  So, if you don’t feel super funny or entertaining, don’t worry!  You can share your knowledge in the bite-sized 30-second Reel and your audience will love it.

Sometimes it’s hard to look at Instagram Reels done by other influencers and be lost with how to create one for yourself, especially one you think would go viral. One main thing to remember is to be yourself and be true to your brand. 

Be true to your brand. woman sitting in chair with computer. www.iammichellegifford.com


Instagram Reels should be fun and should be overflowing with who you are. If you feel awkward dancing, don’t dance on Reels. If you can’t quite get the transitions down on Reels, don’t do them.  Find topics you think are fun and craft the video in a way that helps you feel confident.

So instead of trying to copy others’ Instagram Reels or feeling discouraged when looking at them, look at them and ask yourself, “How can I make this my own?” And if you think about who you are, who your audience is, and what you’re showcasing, you will create magic. 

Being on-trend. 

The third element to a viral Instagram Reel is to be on-trend. 

My friend in the first example who had her Reel go viral went viral because she created a spin on a very niche game for teenagers. When people saw it, they started sharing it because it was so trendy.  

Look for music, trending hashtags or topics.  What are people in your niche talking about and what kind of hashtags and music are they using? Not sure, then it is time to do some research.

Go to some accounts in your specific niche that are doing a really good job with Reels. Is there a concept you could use as inspiration and make it your own?  I’m not advising you to copy, but it is smart to look around at your industry and see what is working and see if there are some things you can learn from others who are doing it well.

Look at the topics they are talking about, the music they are listening to and the hashtags they are using. Is there something you could use and make it your own?

Encourage Engagement

OK, now that you’ve created a potential viral Instagram Reel, what do you do now? 

It’s not enough to post the Reel and be done. It’s important to include an intriguing cover image and a caption with a catchy headline, a call to action and hashtags. This will help it be seen by more people and make it more clear on what you want your audience to do with the information you’ve given them. 

A great headline is one that grabs someone’s attention and makes them want to watch. A good headline uses exciting words, solves a problem or invites people into your story.

For example:

My Easy Hashtag Strategy

How to Stretch 1 Piece of Content 5 Ways

How to Create a Killer Instagram Bio in 3 Quick Steps

After you have the headline down, you can encourage engagement by writing a caption with your Reel that closes with a question or call to action.  If you want people to share your Reel, tell them. If you want them to tag a friend, tell them. If you want them to leave a comment, tell them. Remember, Instagram wants people to stay on the app, so if you can show Instagram people are staying on the app to watch your posts, then Instagram is more likely to show it to more people.

Next, hashtags.

Hashtags are a great way for people to find your content and Instagram is using your hashtags to know who to put your content in front of. Do some hashtag research to see which hashtags are being used the most in your niche. Do your research with the question in mind, “What are some trending hashtags or topics in my niche right now?” Also, having 15-20 hashtags is a good range you can aim for when posting with your Instagram Reels. It may seem like a lot, but the hashtags are what will help you be seen on Instagram’s Discovery page. 

Keep Creating

If your first few Instagram Reels don’t go viral, keep on creating. You usually don’t go viral on your first Reel (which is actually a great thing because that first one can be pretty awkward).  The more Reels you create, the better you will get and the more likely you will be to go viral.  

Even without going viral, you can still use Instagram Reels to grow your audience. Keep creating, be true to yourself and your brand, and stay encouraged!

How to Go Viral Using Instagram Reels. Office with plant, computer desk, and bulletin. www.iammichellegifford.com

Do you have questions about Instagram Reels? Put them below and I’ll get back to you.

Again, you can check out My Ultimate Guide to Instagram Reels here if you want to get a better grasp on Reels. 

If you’re interested in seeing my Instagram Reels, follow me on Instagram @iammichellegifford. 

If you have not started Instagram Reels and you want to, and you want someone to walk you through the first five steps of using reels, go to www.iammichellegifford.com/rockthereels where you can sign up for my free five day challenge and you can become a Reel Rockstar!

Also, check out this video I created! How to Create a Viral Reel: 7 quick steps.

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