You’ve been scrolling from the sidelines of your Instagram Reels feed, and have finally decided that it’s time to throw your own video content into the ring. Maybe you’ve been posting on TikTok and are ready to take the multi-platform leap, or you’re new to video content entirely. No matter your experience, starting your Instagram Reels journey can feel a bit daunting. Since its debut in August of 2020, users have been getting acclimated to the unique algorithm of Reels — and what it takes to go viral on the platform. According to creators who do achieve that lofty virality threshold, the best Instagram Reels tips involve making your content feel as natural and authentic as possible.
While Reels might seem like a natural pivot from TikTok, given the platform’s similar interface, some creators say that they’re a bit more choosier with what they post on Reels. “I think that TikTok feels like more of a ‘safe space’ to people,” says creator Brigette Muller, who posts as @hummusbirrd. “People are more willing to post totally outrageous stuff on TikTok that they might not want their friends or family to see if they posted on Instagram.”
Muller says that she typically saves “off-the-cuff” content to her story on Instagram, and saves her TikTok-tested viral content for Reels. Likewise, roller-skating creator Rubina Bernabe, known as @rollercoastinrubes, says that Reels feel more “curated” in content, since “people are having to open themselves up to the idea of video content, rather than still shots.”
While TikTok might still feel like the “wild west,” as Muller puts it, Reels is more of a platform to put your best foot forward. But there’s no need to be intimidated by hitting that post button. Bernabe says taking chances on Reels is still worth it, as “every Reel is an opportunity to grow and find your audience.”
With the right use of some viral sounds, good timing, and a bright idea, you can make the next viral Reel.
Tips For Posting An Instagram Reel
How To Build A Following On Instagram Reels
While Reels might feel more curated than TikTok, there was still a resounding sentiment among creators offering advice: Authenticity is key. Crystal Tan, whose profile @itscrystaltan doubles as a health and wellness blog, says that posting about your passions, and not just what’s trending, will “create a community that's passionate about the same things you are.”
Likewise, Bernabe says that authenticity can drive engagement, noting that “people who feel 'seen' by your self-expression will be excited to engage with & share your content.”
How To Go Viral On Instagram Reels
When it comes to hard factors like hashtags and timing, Bernabe, Mullen, and Tan all agreed that using a trending sound is the best formula for going viral. Mullen adds that posting in the early evening, around 7 or 8 p.m., seems to be an ideal window for engagement. And Tan says that posting higher-quality videos also drive more engagement.
How To Make A Good Instagram Reel
As for the content itself, that’s where tips can get a bit more abstract. But, as a general rule of thumb, Muller says to ask yourself, "What is the viewer getting out of this video?" Muller says a good Reel will be one or more of the following: “Relatable, funny, educational, inspiring, motivating, surprising, entertaining.”
Muller says that when it comes to relatability, she likes to hone in on specific experiences of her life that still feel fairly universal — like buying food that you know you won’t use before it goes bad. She also notes that “out of the ordinary” content can offer a twofer appeal, as it will either feel “SUPER relatable or SUPER out of the ordinary, depending on someone's particular life experience.” Muller points towards her “Things in my New York City apartment that just make sense,” video, as many New Yorkers related to the same types of living conditions that non-New Yorkers were flabbergasted by.
When it comes down to tried-and-true Reel formats for the three creators, each of their most successful types of content reflect the community of followers they’ve cultivated. For Muller, who has become known especially for decor content, before-and-after transitions do especially well for her. For Tan, who focuses on wellness content, “What I eat in a day” videos and “content around healthy habits and mindsets” get the most traction on her page. And, for Bernabe, who has paired her rollerskating content with candid and inspirational messages, Reels where she’s is speaking directly to camera or “sharing unedited clips from my real life” work best for her.
At the end of the day, it seems the best tip for cultivating sustainable success on Reels is posting in a way that’s true to you. Not only will you attract a community of like-minded followers by being authentic, but you just mind find your newest outlet for expressing yourself.