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How to Hack the Instagram Reels Algorithm and Increase Engagement

Discover expert tips to leverage the Instagram Reels algorithm to your advantage, boost engagement, and skyrocket your content's reach.

Anda Radulescu
Anda Radulescu
Table of Contents

Why do some Instagram Reels get all the attention while others get lost in the crowd?

It's not magic; it's maths—the Instagram Reels algorithm, to be exact.

In this article, we're going to uncover how this hidden rulebook works.

Let's break it down, make it simple, and help you make your Reels go viral.

How to go viral in 2023 using the Instagram Reels Algorithm

  1. How the Instagram Reels algorithm ranks content
  2. Keep it entertaining and inspirational
  3. Stick to a clearly defined niche
  4. Post as frequently as you can
  5. Use in-app creative tools
  6. Use trending sounds in your Instagram Reels
  7. Focus on using the right tags
  8. Monitor your Instagram Reels’ performance
  9. How to use Socialinsider to identify and create top-performing content
    9.1.Identifying top-performing content
    9.2.In-depth content analysis
    9.3.Drawing insightful conclusions

How the Instagram Reels algorithm ranks content

The Instagram Reels algorithm is designed to ensure that each user receives recommendations they are likely to enjoy.

The emphasis, however, firmly rests on entertainment.

Instagram uses data to refine its understanding of what makes content entertaining, particularly aiming to amplify the reach of smaller creators.

In fact, Instagram Reels drive the highest engagement rates on the platform.

Based on a series of key factors, the platform makes certain predictions, including the likelihood of a user watching a Reel completely, finding it entertaining, engaging with it, and even feeling inspired to create their own Reel.

These key factors that Instagram takes into account when recommending Reels are:

  • User activity: engagement markers such as likes or comments help Instagram’s Reels algorithm discern the kind of content a user might find relevant
  • Interaction history: past interactions provide valuable cues about the user's possible interest in their content
  • Reel information: the audio track, visual content, and the Reel's popularity play a crucial role in the recommendation algorithm
  • Creator information: the creator's popularity is taken into account to afford every creator an opportunity to find their audience.
To maximize Instagram engagement, avoid posting Reels that are low-quality, muted, watermarked, or text-based only.

#1 Keep it entertaining and inspirational

While TikTok reigns as the platform driving engagement with its videos, Instagram Reels hold the crown for the highest average watch rate.

Whether it's a hilarious skit or a moment of pure joy, aim to create content that people can relate to or aspire to.

By sparking laughter, awe, or excitement, your Reels will have a greater chance of being engaged with.

Incorporating inspirational elements into your Reels can also have an impact on engagement. When your content inspires, it connects with viewers on a deeper level, motivating and uplifting them.

With fewer Reels flooding the feed, the chances of encountering spam are reduced, allowing users to stumble upon more high-quality videos that cater to their preferences.

This leads to more views for each Reel.

But why are Reels the undefeated champions of captivating content, you wonder?

Their secret lies in a curated selection and a diverse range of topics.

Reels have mastered the art of capturing and holding the audience's attention by tapping into people's desire for personal growth and meaningful connections.

Handpicked videos, high-quality value, and an addictive autoplay feature also make Reels irresistible.

Recommended: 25 Instagram Reels Ideas for Brands Across 10 Different Industries (+Examples)

#2 Stick to a clearly defined niche

Sticking to a clearly defined niche is crucial for achieving growth and success on Instagram—especially when it comes to Reels.

By focusing on a specific topic or theme, you establish an identity.

And by consistently creating content within a well-defined niche, the algorithm recognizes your expertise and recommends your channel to users who have shown an interest in that particular topic.

This, of course, increases your visibility and Instagram reach, ultimately leading to higher engagement and follower growth.

Moreover, having a niche allows you to forge a deeper connection with your audience, as they know what to expect from your content and can rely on you for valuable information, inspiration, or entertainment within that specific area of interest.

#3 Post as frequently as you can

As mentioned before, Instagram’s algorithm aims to predict and prioritize content that users will enjoy and engage with most.

And because of that, the frequency of Reels' posting plays a significant role here.

Here’s why.

When Instagram introduced Reels, it was their response to the rising popularity of short, creative video content, a trend largely catalyzed by TikTok.

To promote this feature and keep users within its ecosystem, Instagram's algorithm favors and prioritizes Reels.

So when you post Reels frequently, the algorithm interprets this as you being an active and consistent content creator.  Thus, increasing your chances of appearing on the Reels tab, the Explore page, and even in the regular feeds of users.

Simply put, maintaining a steady flow of Instagram Reels can be a game-changer, empowering creators to rise above the digital noise and engage new audiences.

#4 Use in-app creative tools

Being a visually-driven social network, Instagram encourages innovative and aesthetically captivating content.

Harnessing the power of Instagram's creative tools, such as text overlays, camera effects, and filters when crafting Reels, can make all the difference in how the algorithm perceives and promotes your content.

Capitalizing on the platform's capabilities sends positive signals to the algorithm, rewarding your content with improved visibility, and pushing it up in users' feeds, the Explore page, and the dedicated Reels tab.

Moreover, each effect or filter you use makes your content more discoverable to users who enjoy similar styles, as they can click on the effect or filter used and find more content (including yours) using the same.

So, go ahead, and unleash your creativity with Instagram's range of tools to create show-stopping Reels.

While Instagram has not directly addressed the impact of music choice on its Reels algorithm, social media experts agree that using trending sounds in Reels can boost content visibility.

What led experts to believe so?

Firstly, when your content aligns with what's trending, it may gain more relevance, which can potentially drive engagement and give your Reel a push.

Moreover, Instagram's feature allowing users to explore other Reels with the same song can improve your content's discoverability—especially if the song is trending.

Finally, popular music often heightens viewer engagement, fostering interactions that the algorithm may interpret as quality signals.

Thus, diving into the rhythm of trending tunes could be your secret weapon in making your Instagram Reels stand out.

#6 Focus on using the right tags

The algorithm analyzes the tags attached to your Reel to determine its topic, theme, or niche.

This targeted distribution helps you reach the right audience, increasing the chances of your Reel receiving likes, comments, and shares from people who have previously shown an interest in similar content.

#7 Monitor your Instagram Reels’ performance

Unlocking the secret to sky-high engagement on your Reels starts with diving deep into the world of Instagram metrics.

Measuring the performance of your Instagram Reels is pivotal in order to drive better results and increase engagement.

This process, including metrics such as view count, likes, comments, shares, and saves, provides insights into what resonates with your audience and helps to optimize future content.

By understanding which Reels are most effective, you can tailor your content to reflect Instagram trends, interests, and preferences, improving both reach and engagement.

Furthermore, performance analysis allows for strategic decision-making about posting frequency and timing, key factors in capturing maximum attention.

Thus, tracking Instagram Reels' performance facilitates a data-driven approach to content creation, leading to more effective engagement, broadened reach, and heightened brand awareness.

Discover what Instagram analytics tools you can leverage to get in-depth performance insights and start boosting your strategy!

How to use Socialinsider to identify and create top-performing content

For a brand wanting to optimize its content strategy, one important usage of Socialinsider is identifying which post types—be it photos, videos, stories, or Reels—get the most engagement.

Let's take the examples of Rare Beauty, Doritos, and RyanAir and see how Socialinsider can help you analyze social media performance and create better content for your brand.

Step 1: Identifying top-performing content

Start by adding the desired social media profiles to the dashboard and then press Benchmarks to compare their data.

Socialinsider will then rank the posts based on various metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and more.

In this instance, we notice that, for each brand, the best-performing posts on their Instagram account are Reels.

This might indicate that Reels are a format that their audience particularly enjoys and engages with.

Interestingly, the brands we’ve chosen aren't in the same business or area. However, Reels are still among their most successful content.

This supports the idea that using 'Reels' can help improve your connection with your audience.

Once we have found the top-performing Reels, it's time to examine their contents closely.

Pro tip: For more in depth insights on Instagram performance, you can also access our most recent Instagram Benchmarks study.

Step 2: In-depth content analysis

You might want to start by noting down some of the characteristics, such as what type of caption they use, post timing, or hashtags used.

Other key elements you need to focus on include:

  • Duration of the Reels: Are followers more inclined towards short, crisp content or longer, more detailed Reels?
  • Music selection: What kind of music is incorporated in these Reels? Identify if the tracks are well-known hits or original sounds. Pay attention to the genre, tempo, and whether the songs include lyrics.
  • Inclusion of people: Do these Reels feature people? If yes, who are they? Are they employees, influencers, or perhaps customers? Understand how they're portrayed and their roles in the Reels.
  • Editing and styling: Observe the editing techniques and overall style of the Reels. Are they showcasing products, giving behind-the-scenes peeks, or providing how-to guides?

Step 3: Drawing insightful conclusions

Having meticulously analyzed the features of your top-performing Reels, you're now in a position to identify patterns and draw insightful conclusions.

For instance, if your highest engaging Reels tend to be short, include popular music, feature people, and adopt a tutorial style, then replicating these elements in your future content might drive similar success.

By following these steps, you'll gain a better understanding of your brand's social media performance and establish a genuine connection with your audience.

Socialinsider's detailed metrics and insights can aid this process, making it more data-driven and hence, more likely to yield favorable results.

However, it's important to remember that Instagram trends come and go, and while these correlations are instructive, they do not definitively prescribe success.

Thus, it's essential to keep testing different content types and styles to ensure your content stays fresh and relevant to your audience.

Last thoughts on the Instagram Reels algorithm

Overall, the Instagram Reels algorithm offers creators and users an opportunity to engage with short-form video content in a more discoverable and personalized manner.

By tailoring your social media content strategy to these algorithmic preferences, you can gain a competitive edge, broadening your reach and deepening your engagement with your target audience.

Anda Radulescu

Anda Radulescu

Content writer & copywriter with a 5-year track record in digital marketing. Equal parts keen observer & committed go-getter. A proud cat mom with a passion for music & exploring the world.

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