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How to go Viral on Instagram Reels 2022

Instagram’s new feature is exciting, and creators have welcomed it with open arms, but, how do you go viral on Instagram Reels?

Posted 1 year ago
instagram reels

Written by

Julia Cohen
Posted 1 year ago

Being one of Instagram’s latest features means you get rewarded for posting Reels. So, if you can go viral on Instagram Reels, you’re setting yourself up for a huge boost in engagement and growth.

At Flick, we aim to make Instagram success achievable for everyone. With that said, we’ve put together this 7-step guide on how to go viral on Instagram Reels. It covers our best practices for making great content, strategizing Reel hashtags to go viral, jumping on trends and more.

First, though, let’s take a look at the facts: how many views is considered going viral and what makes a Reel go viral?

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  1. Reels: How Many Views Is Considered Going Viral?

Reels: How Many Views Is Considered Going Viral?

Full disclosure: there’s no straight answer to this question. While Wikipedia states that getting more than 5 million views over a 3 to 7 day period indicates a viral video, in reality, going viral on Reels just means your content is reaching more people than it usually would. The number of views considered going viral entirely depends on your existing metrics.

Let’s look at an example. Travel influencer @joujoutravels had around 4k followers in December 2020 and her Reels were getting around 5k plays before one first went viral with 16.5k views. Since then, her Reels have been supercharged with one reaching 1.5 million views and her following has boomed to 12k.

So, virality is relative to your current reach. If a Reel gets triple or more its usual views, you’re on the right track for going viral. But timing is also key. In most cases, if your Reel gains momentum within an hour of posting, you can be pretty sure it’ll go viral. On the other hand, if it’s struggling to get any engagement after that time, it’s unlikely to take off.

What Makes A Reel Go Viral?

Lots of different types of content go viral on Instagram Reels, so we can’t define just one thing that makes it go viral. However, viral Reels all tend to tick the following boxes:

They fall into one of three content categories:

  • Educational: providing value to viewers, e.g. travel recommendations, iPhone camera tips, or cooking hacks
  • Inspirational: sharing a journey, a transformation, or an aspirational story
  • Relatable: for example, actress @hannahmhines’s viral Reels series on Millenials trying to enjoy adulthood (#triggered):

  • They contain well-timed and appropriate music or songs that viewers want to listen to again or use for themselves.
  • They’ve jumped on a trend at the right time.
  • The footage, editing, lighting, and sound are high quality.

Here are actionable tips to getting viral on Instagram Reels:

  1. Make great content that resonates to your target audience and beyond.
  2. Use the right hashtags.
  3. Tag and share with profiles willing to distribute your content.
  4. Capitalize on trends but with your own spin
  5. Use the right music with the right energy
  6. Post consistently on key topics
  7. Use data to figure out what works

Make Great Content

At the end of the day, Instagram is a highly visual platform: your content needs to be eye-catching and high quality to get people to stop scrolling. So, the best way to go viral on Instagram Reels is to make great videos that catch people’s attention and make them want to watch and share.

Define what your Reel is about. Instagram’s algorithm uses machine learning technology to determine which posts it shows to which users. The niche your Reel fits into will help determine exactly who sees it, so the more mass appeal it has, the more likely you are to go viral. Some ideas to help frame your viral reels:

  • Post something topical that is being talked about and is relevant in popular culture today.
  • Craft your reel around life moments, activities, or struggles that people can relate to.
  • Check out some of the trends within your niche, and try one out for yourself.

Create a high-quality, Reels-optimized video.

  • Good light and sound: creating your viral Reels on your phone is absolutely fine, but make sure you’re filming somewhere there’s bright natural light. Worst case scenario, use a ring light to ensure your Reel is well-lit. Make sure there’s no background noise and that your voiceover and/or music can be heard clearly.
  • Correct size: the optimal video size for Instagram Reels is 1080 x 1920 pixels for viewers to watch it at the maximum resolution with an aspect ratio of 9:16. So, you should record your viral Reels video vertically so it looks best and contains everything you want it to.
  • Include just enough text: according to Facebook, around 85% of users watch video without sound. Whether or not these figures are exactly the same for Instagram Reels, ensuring viewers can enjoy your video on silent is key for accessibility. Add concise text without being too wordy and ensure viewers can read what you’ve written.
  • Remove the TikTok watermark! There’s nothing wrong with repurposing content. But Instagram has officially declared they won’t promote Reels with the TikTok logo on. So be smart and get editing if you want your Reels to go viral.
  • Hook people so they stop scrolling: add an eye-catching cover photo and make sure the first few seconds of your Reel has a good hook.
  • Use the built-in Reels filters and stickers: Instagram rewards users who make the most of their new features, like Reels, and the same goes for all the extra tools they offer you to shape your content.

Use the Right Reel Hashtags

No, you don’t have to be a social media expert to do so – not when you use hashtag research and analytics tool Flick! As with other types of content, using hashtags for Reels is key to going viral. Hashtags allow Instagram to categorize and present your Reels to users they think will be interested, increasing your potential views and therefore your chance of going viral.

Research hashtags with Flick. When you enter a keyword, Flick generates hundreds of hashtags relevant to your account, content and target audience. You can then filter out banned hashtags so you don’t get penalized and refine the terms by their level of competition and the number of searches to build up your strategy.

Include the right types of Reel hashtags to go viral:

  • Topic, niche or product-specific hashtags relevant to your account and Reel content
  • Audience-specific hashtags i.e. what your target viewers look at on Instagram
  • Branded and community hashtags
  • Hashtags related to the viral trend in your Reels, if relevant

hashtags flick search

Use all 30 hashtags. Like Instagram posts, there’s a maximum of 30 hashtags per Reel and you should use them all to maximize your reach and chances of your Reel going viral.

Create a hashtag ladder: check out our guide to the hashtag ladder strategy and include hashtags that are low, medium, and high competition in relation to your Instagram engagement metrics.

Track and analyze your hashtag strategy: measure how much traffic your hashtags are driving over time and adapt your strategy accordingly using Flick’s Analytics Suite. We’re crossing our fingers that Instagram releases the API for Reels soon so we can show you advanced insight about your hashtag performance like we do for the rest of your content.

flick analytics

Accumulate Momentum: Share, Share, Share

The most important time for the growth of a Reel is directly after you’ve posted it, so you want to do what you can to give it the momentum it needs to go viral. The quicker your Reel gets views, the more people will see it, so make sure to:

  • Share your Reels on your Stories and feed to gain traction from your existing followers.
  • If you have TikTok, share your Reel there too, and direct viewers to your Instagram page.
  • Encourage your followers and friends to share your Reel.
  • Post at a time that has consistently performed well for you in the past, so you know your followers are receptive and more likely to watch.
  • Tag anyone relevant. If you are featuring a brand, tag them. If you are posting a comedy reel, tag your favorite meme account. The more people you share it with, the better!


Instagram Analytics

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If you’ve decided to jump on a hot trend to try and go viral on Instagram Reels, follow our best practices to increase your chances:

  • Do your research: you’re gonna have to watch a lot of Reels and know your target audience well to identify which Reels trends will resonate best with your viewers.
  • Understand the trend: it’s all very well re-creating a viral video, but if your content misses the point of the content, it won’t go viral.
  • Put your own spin on it: #1, people don’t want to the exact same Reel over again and #2, your audience follows you because they like your content. Create your own version of the trending Reel that’s relevant to your account and image.

If Instagram knows an audience is receptive to a trend, its algorithm will serve more of those videos to more users. One of the ways the platform can pick up on this is by the number of times users are putting a certain track on their videos. If a sound or song is being used consistently on multiple different Reels, that song will show as a recommended track. If you use one of these popular tracks, you have a greater chance of reaching new followers and viewers, and in turn, going viral!

Another great tip is to use a song that matches the content of your video. That could be in rhythm – upbeat songs for a fast-paced video -, or in lyrics. For example, the below Reel of a cat skateboarding to Chamillionaire’s Ridin’, which has 812k views, way up from the account’s average figure of around 100k.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @funny_cats_21_

Be Consistent In Your Content Creation

Instagram has said that your Reels’ performance depends on how consistently and frequently you post. We hear you: no one’s got the time to be creating 4 to 7 Reels per week. Instead, commit to posting at least one Reel each week and make sure your frequency is consistent if you post more.

Consider batch-creating Reels in advance to save you time in the long run. Don’t give up once you go viral – that’s the perfect time to harness your newfound growth and post again to ride the wave of success.

Pay Attention To Your Metrics & Profile

Your account’s analytics are invaluable when it comes to your Reels. Monitor when your audience is the most active, and examine which Reels gain the most traction according to the time and day that you post them.

You should also track your hashtag metrics with Flick Analytics to up the chances of your Reel appearing in a hashtag search. If you have a high-Rank Ratio for a specific hashtag, it’s a good idea to use that hashtag on your Reel as it betters your chances of ranking.

Ramp Up Your Hashtag Strategy To Go Viral On Reels

Make great videos, jump on the right trends, and have an effective hashtag strategy: there are three key takeaways for how to go viral on Reels. The content itself might be on you, but sign up for a 7-day free trial of Flick and we’ll help you create a hashtag strategy to boost your Reels to Instagram virality. We can’t wait to see your Reels trending!


Hashtags & Analytics

Find, manage, and analyze hashtags for Instagram.



Reels: How Many Views Is Considered Going Viral?

What Makes A Reel Go Viral?

Ramp Up Your Hashtag Strategy To Go Viral On Reels

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