How to Trend on Instagram Reels

How to Trend on Instagram Reels

On August 5th, we saw the introduction of the new kid on the social media block: a little platform called “Instagram Reels”. Launched in more than 50 countries, including America, it’s already being picked apart by users for its different uses, benefits, and limitations. Probably most important, though, is this: its similarity to a certain app by the name of TikTok. By now, you’d have to live under an actual rock not to have heard about the meteoric rise of the most downloaded app in the world, and its legions of adoring, video-making fans. Maybe you don’t understand it, but you’ve definitely seen it around. 

And, now, Instagram is coming for a slice of the pie. For brands with optimized online presences on the world’s biggest picture sharing platform, Instagram, Reels could end up having a lot to offer. For people wanting to get in early on an exploding new social media phenomenon, it could also. 

But how do you take advantage of Reels before the whole world discovers it, and start generating trending content that brings in hits, views, clicks, and attention from all corners of the Internet? Join us, today, as we take a closer look at some choice tips for trending on Instagram Reels, and get ready for a wild ride with Insta’s fun new brainchild. 

High Level of Engagement

When Vine died an unpopular death in December 2016, TikTok was already waiting in the wings to pick up the slack. You’d be forgiven for not knowing about it, though, as the platform would only really come into the global spotlight a few years later, as TikTok fever swept the world.

Cut to today, and we live in the age of short-form content. Instagram Reels just walked into that party, ready to make friends. Reels just arrived on the scene and already has the benefit of the built-in Instagram market. This is no small feat, as Insta remains the single most popular social media platform anywhere in the world. As a result of that reach, brands are already making ground on reels, especially when their marketing hits that short-form sweet sot. 

Keep in mind, though, that the TikTok competition is still stiff. The social media giant has grown to astronomical proportions in recent years. It’s no surprise that TikTok has some of the highest engagement rates seen on any social media platform anywhere right now. And fans of the app aren’t likely to welcome competitive content with open arms just yet. 

There’s a lot of content on Reels right now that is, you’ll find, pretty much just reposted TikTok content. This is missing the point. People also use these apps for different purposes. Reels works more like a new set of tools building on from Instagram stories and video posts. So if the Reels content you’re creating wouldn’t work for your Instagram audience, it probably won’t work here.

So, what’s our tip? Play to Reels’ strengths. It’s built into Instagram, largely, but the userbase of people actually using Reels right now is still growing. Create unique content with clear branding and smart, funny energy. Don’t be afraid to bring some of that “TikTok spirit” to the table, take a few risks, and try something new based on what’s trending right now. 

But making posts that are obvious “clones” of TikTok isn’t going to get you far. Take a look around, figure out what you want to say, and start having fun with Reels – and try to put TikTok aside while you do it. 

Create Challenges

We said, earlier, not to create TikTok clone content, and we meant it. But there is one kind of video that has been shown to get results, every time, and that’s challenge videos. This content lives on the frontline of every modern trending list, and it’s important not to miss out on it if you’re going to have any kind of real (or Reel) presence. 

Some challenges are outlandish. Maybe you’ll be up for trying to eat ten boiled eggs at once or juggling dirty baby diapers or maybe you won’t. Many challenges are a lot less intense, however, requiring more fun and creativity than gutsy antics. Makeup and video challenges seem to pop up every other week. Celebrity impressions, popular news stories, memes, and other fun challenges give you the chance to join the conversation and make an impression.

Our advice? You’re never “too good” to have a little fun, so spend some time engaging with challenges and get ready for the increased visibility that comes along with it.

Choose Your Hashtags

Let’s be honest: Instagram Reels has super similar functionality to TikTok. Open up the camera part of the app, and you’ll find the standard combination of filters, stickers, clips, and editing tools you’ve become familiar with on TikTok. Because, hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

But they’re not exactly the same. There’s one really important thing Instagram Reels arguably does better than TikTok, and that’s hashtags. You know, one of the most important factors in getting your content discovered. Similar to an Instagram post, Reels gives you the ability to add up to thirty unique hashtags of any length to your post. That’s a mammoth offering and goes a long way to getting your content discovered. 

In some ways, this makes spreading your video near and far much easier, as you can sort of spray your hashtags everywhere and count on making a few hits. Our hint, though? Use this as an opportunity to generate the kind of buzz TikTok could only ever dream of. Spend some time researching which hashtags are trending, with serious numbers, and choose thirty of those to get your content trending.

Imagine: thirty well-researched hashtags, getting your content into the pockets of potential fans everywhere. Make sure not to sleep on these new benefits, because they can do a world of good for your brand if used properly.

Know Your Limitations

One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to strategically using social media to your advantage is to understand what it is you can’t do. Twitter only gives you 280 characters to create with. Instagram ads only give you 125 characters to make your stand. And Instagram feeds only gives you 15 seconds to make a video in, as opposed to TikTok’s 60.

Does that decrease its overall value? Just ask the people who got rich off of Twitter content, way back when they had a 140 character limit. It is what you make of it, and Reels has massive outreach potential. 

So, just like we tell our kids to decide what they want before they go into the fridge, you’ll have to decide how to get in, make a statement, and get out if you’re going to make Instagram Reels really work for you.

With Reels, users can videos with soundtracks that feature various popular music, much like TikTok’s “For You” page. In some cases, though, businesses might be able to create Reels but haven’t yet had access to music. Why? It turns out the answer is sort of boring: licensing restrictions.

So what does that mean for content creators trying to get ahead with their content? To get creative and wait out the process. If Reels is going to stay competitive, this functionality is going to have to make an appearance. It’s just a matter of time.

Have Fun

The best thing any user can do on a new platform is to see what works for them. What do you like? How closely does that align with your own brand identity? Could you use that to say what you have to say, and in your voice?

Because you will make better content if you actually enjoy the content you create. If you aren’t enjoying it, you’re either going to have to learn to enjoy it first, or change your approach. Reach out to other influencers in your niche and see if you can collaborate. Sure, nobody wants to share the stage with the competition, but if they already have the following, and you can do better with the content than them, you could win a massive following and have the viewer capital you need to make your next post a viral hit.

Our tip? We live in a time of complex SEO practices used to get ahead online. These are valuable, but best handled by a professional. But you can do a lot for your own visibility, just by getting onboard the right platform early on and becoming a fan. Become a fan of Reels and find a way to express yourself through that lens. 

Author Details



Duncan is a man of many words and, luckily for us, he brings them all to use at Web Daytona. Creating targeted, authentic, keyword-rich content for our clients, and applying his writing to everything from contracts and legal documents to blogs, social media, scripts, and above-the-line advertising.

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