Boost Gram views: 6 tips to master the Instagram Reels algorithm
By Chelsea Hurst October 31, 2023
I’m a big fan of the Gram–Instagram that is–and have been for a while. During the pandemic, my husband and I would find silly memes, stories, and posts that got us laughing like crazy–much needed distractions from the stress of unprecedented times.
Things only got better on Instagram, IMO, with the introduction of Reels back in August 2020. A response to the video frenzy intensified by TikTok, Reels gave Instagram creators and businesses another way to express themselves in the app, another way to engage, entertain, and retain your audience.
Even now Instagram seems to prioritize Reels in its all-too-enigmatic algorithm, which means Reels are what really help boost your overall visibility and reach on the platform.
I have started creating more Reels on AWeber’s Instagram account and have found this to be true: our Reels garner WAY more engagement and reach WAY more followers and non-followers than our static posts, carousels, and stories.
Check out the Instagram Reel we posted for Labor Day–one of our most popular Reels so far!
How to get more views on Instagram reels
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been researching, experimenting, and learning how to get WAY more views and engagement on Instagram reels.
Creating Reels can be daunting–it’s certainly more stressful and farther outside of my comfort zone (why? Because I star in most of the Reels. That’s right, that’s me above) than sharing static photos. But seeing the tremendous awareness, loyalty, and affinity, makes it worth it.
Whether you are already creating Instagram Reels for your business or have yet to create your first, understanding how Instagram Reels algorithm can work in your favor will help you get more out of your Reels as you experiment, create, and share.
Create In Instagram, vs other apps
When I first started making Instagram Reels, I edited them in Canva, but as soon as I switched to editing them in Instagram, I saw a jump in views and engagement.
Our Instagram Engagement:
See the peaks? Each one is from when we posted a Reel.
It makes sense that Instagram would prefer that you create your content in-app, although I’ve noticed that there are some annoying disadvantages. For example, sometimes the in-app editor can be glitchy, and overall I just prefer to use my computer keyboard vs my phone.
However, this is more of an issue for videos that require a lot of editing. Instagram is pretty convenient to use for single shot content, and is especially so for when you are lip-syncing to audio.
It took me just a few minutes to film this lip syncing video in Instagram, and it got great engagement!
Main takeaway? You will lose reach if you do not create your content in the Instagram app–so best to stick with it when you can.
Use trending audio
The next time you scroll through Instagram Reels, look in the bottom left corner of your screen. Is there an upward arrow next to the track name? If so, you’ve found yourself some trending audio, or a sound clip that people are showing increasing interest in. These will be discovered more easily when used by creators.
After you have found a trending audio, tap on the track to see exactly how many times the audio has been used. It’s best to hop on a trending audio early–20,000 uses or less (the less the better)–and ride the momentum as it gains in popularity.
You can also follow social media marketers/managers/coaches on IG who find and share trending audio. Some are really good at identifying trending audio early! Here are a few accounts I’ve been using to find trending audio: @shannonmckinstrie, and @smallbusinessgrowthclub.
Hack: You can get the Instagram reels algorithm to show you more trending audio by scrolling through Reels quickly until you see the upward arrow–then stop, watch, and interact with those Reels. The IG algorithm will realize you want to see more Reels with trending audio.
Keep it simple!
Creators and social media professionals say that the sweet spot for Reel length is only 5-7 seconds! Keep this in mind, and it will help you simplify your content and reduce the amount of time and effort you spend creating your Reels.
A lot of social media coaches say that your next Reel is already in your camera roll. Find a good audio, write up a snappy hook and caption, and share.
Don’t let me discourage you from creating longer form content though! Some audio and trends require longer, more produced videos (think the Wes Anderson trend from earlier this year), or you may have a high-value tutorial or message for your audience. These still have an important place in your social content, but sprinkle them here and there so you aren’t constantly bogged down creating longer content.
Show up daily and consistently
There are plenty of blog posts and articles out there that tell you the peak times to post your content.
What is the best approach?
Even seasoned social media marketing professionals will acknowledge that social media is largely chaos and posting content is a gamble.
While there are good tips and tricks out there, the best way for you to figure out what time you should post your content is to relentlessly experiment, then look at the data. Instagram Insights will tell you when your audience is most active. Use that as your guide.
So, time to experiment! But marry your experimentation with consistency. Post and interact regularly–daily is best! This is where a social media content calendar will come in handy.
Interact! Interact! Interact!
Instagram wants you to actively interact with your followers. Don’t just post and walk away!
The more you interact, the more Instagram’s algorithm will make your content discoverable–and the more your followers (and potential customers) will feel like you are a person, not just some disinterested business.
Make sure you reply to comments and messages in a timely manner as well!
Bye, bye, Hashtags. Hello, Keywords!
Wait, WHAT?! This was big news to me!
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri apparently announced last year that hashtags are no longer an important factor in increasing discoverability and reach. Instead of throwing 8 to 12 hashtags in your captions–which is now considered spammy–start incorporating more descriptive SEO keywords into your posts.
You can keep using hashtags, just in case; just put them at the end of a very well thought-out and worded caption.
Now go create!
Not every Reel you create will hit the jackpot, but don’t let that discourage you! Keep showing up, and focus on creating simple, valuable content.
Happy Creating, friends!