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15 Ways To Increase Your Instagram Reels Views In 2023

digital marketing agency instagram instagram reels short-form video tips social media marketing Sep 28, 2022
A picture of someone checking their Instagram feed while drinking a cup of coffee

Even with the frustration that business owners have with Instagram, it is still the place on social media to run and grow your business.  That being said, over the last year, Instagram has made strides to try to keep up with the most trending social media app, TikTok, by prioritizing its version of short-form video, call “Reels.”

Having gained over 100M views from Instagram reels over the past two years, we’ve noticed there are 15 things you can be doing to give your reels the best possible chance at reach and engagement.  Today, we share those 15 tips with you so you can go out and start gaining the awareness for your business that you want!

Create More Instagram Reels

When we look over most people’s Instagram accounts, the first thing that we notice is that they’re simply not creating enough content . . . especially when it comes to reels.  If you figure that Instagram is only pushing your content out to 2-3% of your following, then that means you simply need to be creating more.

If you’ve heard of the “Mere Exposure Effect,” it basically states that the more people see you, the more they feel like they know you and the more that they trust you.  By creating more reels, you’re putting yourself in front of your audience more, while giving yourself a chance at getting more reach and more engagement.

We’ve tested out every type of frequency when it comes to posting that you can.  We’ve posted one reel a week, three a week, one every day, and finally two every day.  Guess which posting format gives us more reach, followers, engagement, and business?

Posting two reels a day.  Instagram wants reels because they want to keep people on their platform as much as they can.  So give them what they want . . . because the more reels you’re able to post, the more you’ll grow.

Use Trending Sounds

When it comes to this point, there’s a lot of debate about whether or not you should use trending sounds or your own original sounds.  Everything we’ve tested on our accounts as well as our clients definitively shows us that using trending sounds overall will get you more reach.

It makes sense right?  Think about it: what sounds are people most likely to be looking for?  What sounds is Instagram more likely to push out on their reels feed?  Trending sounds.  Now let’s talk about HOW you find trending sounds.

When you’re watching a reel, you’ll see the sound in the bottom left-hand corner of the video.  If a sound isn’t trending, it has the music symbol next to it.  However, if a sound is trending it will have an uptick arrow next to it.  That’s how you tell if a sound is currently trending or not.

Now, this next part is strictly our opinion based on what we’ve seen works the best for us.  I believe that you should look for trending sounds that have the smallest amount of uses possible.  How you check that is you click the sound in the bottom left-hand corner, and it’ll pull up the sound with how many people have used it in the top middle.

Typically, we don’t use trending reel sounds if they have over 1K uses.  The reason for this is as the reel continues to trend, more and more people are going to use it, which means more and more people are going to go and watch the reels that have already been made to get ideas.

This has allowed a lot of reels to continue to get views and engagement, even months after they have been created.  You could use big sounds, but then I find most people’s reels just get lost in the shuffle, and while they may trend for a day or two, they pretty much stop getting engagement after that.

When choosing sounds for your reels, the best thing you can do is to test out different methods and see what works best for you.  This is why creating more reels is so important, because then it allows you to test all the different methods quickly.  I would test out the following sound formats, then see what works best for your account:

  • Original sounds made by you
  • Non-Trending sounds
  • Trending sounds under 1K
  • Trending sounds that have 1-5K uses
  • Bigger trending sounds that have over 5K uses

Every account is different, and what worked for us might work for you, but it might not.  So make sure that you take the time to test, then you’ll know for sure what sounds work the best for your Instagram reels moving forward.

Experiment With Multiple Clips & Transitions

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but people have a REALLY short attention span . . . and I mean really short . . . like 2-3 seconds short.  This means that if people aren’t interested in your reel within the first few seconds, they’re going to scroll away, which ends up hurting your engagement.

So many business owners create reels using one, long video clip and then wonder why their reels are getting the views and reach they want.  The reason is people aren’t engaged, and when they’re not engaged, they get bored easier and will move on to the next reel.  Knowing this, you have to keep them engaged and make your reels more interesting.

The best way to do this is to keep their eyes engaged with things like multiple clips and transitions.  Research has been done on this and overwhelmingly shows that when people use transitions and more than one clip in their reels, they get better engagement.

If you’re looking for an easy way to use multiple clips, then what you can do is go into a reel sound, then look for any video that has the “template” feature on it.  How you can tell if a reel has this is right above their username, you’ll see a button that says “template.”  This means that they’ve used multiple clips and you can use their format to create your own video using that sound.

Regardless of how you choose to do it, using things like multiple clips and transitions keeps your audience engaged and increases your watch time, which increases your overall engagement.  The best way to get better is to simply create more, learn as you go, and watch reels from people that do transitions/multiple clips really well.

Eliminate The Dead Space In Your Reels

In my opinion, there is nothing more awkward than prolonged silence when you’re talking with someone.  Now, imagine that same prolonged, awkward silence in a reel, and you can understand why people will quickly scroll off your reel if you have this.

Ideally, your reel should have a flow and continuity about it.  Naturally, there are going to be some breaks, but you want to keep those under 2-3 seconds if at all possible.  The longer the silence, the more likely people are to click off your reel.

If you do use a sound with some sort of dead space in it, I would recommend using multiple clips and captions throughout the video, that way people are still being engaged in some sort of way.  If you’re unsure, just re-watch your video and ask yourself, “Would I click off this because of the dead space in it?”  If the answer is yes, figure out a way to fill that space.

Keep Your Reels Short & Sweet

I know that TikTok has the ability to make 3-minute videos, and Instagram now has the ability to create 90-second reels, but if people wanted to watch a long-form video, they’d go to YouTube.  We’ve seen this tested time and time again, and people simply don’t have the attention span to watch longer videos (yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds).

The reels that we have seen perform the best are 5-7 seconds in length.  That is why if you look at most of the sounds trending on Instagram, they are 5-7 seconds . . . that’s no accident.  Instagram has done its own research, they know how long people watch, and they push sounds that fit into that criteria.

If you want your Instagram reels to get the most engagement they possibly can, then you’ll make them shorter, because just like TikTok, watch time with reels means the most.  That means the longer people watch a video of yours, the more it will be pushed out because Instagram assumes it’s worth pushing out.

The easiest way to find sounds under 10 seconds is to go to the reels page, look for the trending sound icon and click on it, then underneath the “save audio” button, you’ll see the total amount of time that the reel is.  Another thing you can do is use a longer sound, but simply cut it down to fit within that under 10-second time frame.

The main takeaway is that the longer the sound is, the harder time you’re going to have keeping people engaged.  So when using sounds for your Instagram reels, especially trending sounds, look for shorter ones to implement your ideas.

Make Sure You’ve Got Good Lighting

Social media algorithms are smart, especially Instagram’s.  So smart in fact, that they can tell whether or not the lighting in your videos is good . . . and guess what?  They’ll penalize you for it and suppress the views on your reel.

Not only that, people expect a certain quality when watching short-form videos, so if your reel has bad lighting, they’re more likely to scroll off and find a better-lit video.  There are simply too many options for people to watch a badly lit video.

Luckily, there are really easy ways to correct this problem, especially for people who are strapped for cash.  The easiest way is to simply record when there’s good lighting.  Use the sunlight to your advantage and record near a window, because there’s nothing better than natural light.

However, you’ll still need a solution for when the weather is bad, or if you simply don’t have a lot of natural light where you’re recording.  The amazing thing is now you can get ring lights for really cheap and they’re actually really good quality.  

We got our portable one for $20 on Amazon.  You can also get the device that’s hand-held with a ring light so you just hold a handle instead of your phone.  Those are a little more expensive, but definitely worth it, especially if you’re going to do a lot of reels and short-form video recording in general.

Whatever route you choose to go, make sure that before you start recording your reel, you’re checking the lighting to make sure it’s good.  If it’s not, either use something like a ring light or wait till the lighting is better because if your lighting is bad, it will definitely affect your videos’ reach.

Caption Your Reels

Did you know that almost 60% of people watch TikTok and Instagram Reels without the sound on?  As crazy as it sounds, sometimes people are in places where they can’t watch with sound.  So you can imagine how annoying it is for them to try and watch a reel with no sound that also has no captions on-screen . . . it’s pretty annoying.

Think about it: how are they supposed to know what’s going on if they can’t hear the sound and you don’t use any captions?

There are two ways you can go about doing this.  The first is you simply caption the reel yourself.  That would mean captioning the idea that you have when it comes to the sound, as well as the verbiage the sound is using itself.

If that’s going to take too much work, you can always use an app like “Caption” that will auto-caption the entire sound of the reel for you, so all you’d have to do is put a caption for what your spin on the trend is.  This is a great time saver and one I’d highly recommend.

Use the 80/20 Rule When Creating Reels

Let me hit you with some statistics that will blow your mind: the average user only spends 22 minutes a day on Instagram, while the average user spends 64 minutes a day on TikTok!  So why are people spending 3x the amount of time on TikTok vs. on Instagram?

The answer is simple: when it comes to social media (and media in general), people want to be entertained, and TikTok does a better job of that than Instagram.

When you go on Instagram’s reel feed, you’re bombarded with reels about selling.  Whether it’s buying someone’s course, signing up for their coaching, or opting into their freebie, the list goes on and on.  Well, the jury is out, and guess what?  People don’t like that kind of content!

If they did, they’d spend as much time on Instagram as they do on TikTok, but they don’t.  TikTok’s FYP is great because it’s filled with hours and hours of entertainment, and strictly that.  In the 5+ years we’ve been using TikTok, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a TikTok that was trying to sell me something unless it was specifically an ad.

This is why it’s so important to know only do market research on what content your audience prefers from you, but what content people are consuming as a whole.  I always spend 10-15 minutes a day going down the reel feed of Instagram.  I do this for a couple of different reasons.

The first reason is so that I can find relevant trends that I want to recreate for our own brand.  The second, and most important thing, is so I can get a grasp on WHAT type of content is trending overall.  Is it happy content?  Humor content?  Emotional content?  If you watch for long enough, you start to notice some common themes amongst the content being pushed out on the reels page.

Don’t underestimate the power of personally branded content.  We built our entire brand off the back of this type of content because we saw three years ago that people’s watching habits were changing, and that their preference for content was changing.

Reels are great for entertaining, then what you can do is either create graphic content (carousels, infographics, etc.) or Instagram stories that do the educating on your profile.  Your reels are meant to sell to people, they’re meant to be “top of the funnel” content that brings in new audience members to your Instagram page and your community.

Align Your On-Screen Text Properly

This one won’t get you dinged so much as make your reels and your account look very unprofessional.  When you’re creating your reels, make sure that all of your text lines up properly on the screen . . . PLEASE!

I can’t tell you how many reels I come across where there is text off-screen or the text is covered by the emotes that are on the right.  When I see things like this I think a brand is lazy and doesn’t want to take the time to actually make sure their reels are done right.

Let me tell you if I’m thinking that, then I promise you, other people are thinking that as well.

Instagram even gives you barriers when you slide the caption text on your reel that shows you where to put your text.  If you’re not sure whether the text will end up fully seen, then slide the text and Instagram will show you.

You can always make your text bigger or smaller to fix on the screen, the two main things are to make sure that no text gets cut off and that it’s not being covered by those symbols on the right.

Use An Engaging Hook & Clear Call-To-Action

If you’re going to get people to watch your video past the first few seconds, then you’re going to have to have a hook than engages them, or else they’ll quickly move on.  That is why I’m a firm believer in having your hook be an on-screen caption near the top of your reel.  That way, when people see it, they at least have to spend the first 2-3 seconds reading it.

When you get people past the first 3 seconds of your reel, you have more than an 80% chance of them watching the rest of it.  This means that those first three seconds are vital when it comes to increasing your watch time, which ultimately, increases your reach and engagement.

Now that you’ve got someone to watch your entire reel, the last thing you want is to forget to put a call-to-action at the end.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but people (especially on social media) need to be told WHAT you want them to do.

Here is a list of CTA’s that you can use at the end of your video to help you get started:

  • Like for more _____ content
  • Comment your thoughts below
  • Share this with a friend
  • Save this for later
  • Follow for more _____ content

The main thing is you want people to do SOMETHING at the end of your video, or else they’ll watch your video, think, “Oh that’s nice,” then move on without liking it, commenting, etc.  Also, make sure you’re changing up your CTA’s on every video so that your audience doesn’t see the same one every time.

Bring Over New Sounds From TikTok

One little hack you can do that has a chance of giving your reels increased engagement is that if you’re also on TikTok, you can bring trending sounds from there over to Instagram.  All trends start on TikTok, and at some point, someone decides to bring that particular sound over to Instagram.

Why not you?

The trick with this is you have to catch a trending sound quickly on TikTok and bring it over before anyone else on TikTok has already done this.  Timing is everything with this hack, and it can be hard to do.

However, the few times that we’ve gotten the timing perfect on this, it has worked out very well for our reels.  I would only recommend this strategy if you’re already on TikTok and creating consistent content there.  Otherwise, I would just stick to smaller trending sounds.

Use A Cover On Your Reels

This tip is more of an opinion of ours based on what we’ve seen work for us.  Now, 99% of people don’t use covers on their reels, and most people will tell you NOT to use them.  However, there are two main reasons why we like to use them.

The first reason is that if you don’t use a reel, you’re basically showing the potential viewer your hook if they see it on that reel’s sound page or if they come across your profile.  The on-screen caption defaults as the cover, so they can basically know what your video is about without even watching it.

I know that I have skipped over many reels before because I could already tell what the video was about before even watching it.  The hook was on the screen, it told me what the reel was about, so I felt like I didn’t need to watch it.

This brings me to the second reason why we use them.  When you use a reel cover, you can use a hook that’s different and forces the person to watch what the video is about.  Our most viral reel that has 23M views has a cover picture of us that says, “When A Clean Freak Marries A Tornado.”

Now, the on-screen caption is the same, but without seeing any of the videos, people are naturally going to wonder what we mean by this.  What does happen?  I’m married . . . is this something I do?  Questions are now being asked which means they’re going to want to know exactly what the video is about.

If we had no reel cover, people could have immediately seen it had to do with a wife having to clean up after her husband, and a lot of people probably would have just moved on.  But because we used that cover, it added mystery and intrigue.

Again, this is something I would test for at least a month, then test without a cover and see what works best for you.  I do believe, however, that adding a cover can add that mystery and intrigue that baits people into wanting to watch your video.

Share Your Reels In Your Instagram Stories

If you’re looking to get a little extra boost in your reel views right away, then the best thing you can do is share your reel immediately to your Instagram stories.  A lot of people don’t know that any time people view your story, it actually counts as a view on your reel.

This can be especially important right after you post your reel, as the first 24-48 hours are vitally important when it comes to getting views and engagement.  The more engagement you get within that time frame, the more likely your reel is to be pushed out to a wider audience.

A little tip would be to share your reel to your story then add a little extra to it, so that you’re not simply re-posting your reel into your stories.  You can add another hook on top of it, you can add a funny comment to it, or anything really that adds an extra layer to keep people watching.

Post At The Optimal Time

Typically, when people think about posting at the optimal time, they think that if their audience is most active at 10 am, they should post at 10 am.  However, that in my opinion is missing your most optimum time.

What we like to do is post 1-2 hours BEFORE our audience is the most active, that way when they log into Instagram, our reel is most likely to be one of the first things they see, especially if they interact with our content on a regular basis.

The easiest way to check this is to go into your Instagram analytics.  When you open the app, click your profile picture in the bottom right-hand corner, then the 3 lines in the top right-hand corner, followed by the “Insights” option, then click the “Total Followers” option which is the third one down.

After doing this, scroll to the bottom and you’ll see what time of the day your audience is most active based on each day.  Remember, they’ll be active at different times on different days, so don’t just assume if you see 10 am on Monday that it’ll be 10 am every day.  Take time and look through each day.

Typically, you’ll see a couple of times when your audience is most active.  Depending on how often you post, I would always post 1-2 hours before the most active time, then if you post a second time, find the next most active time.  This will greatly help increase your reel's engagement right off the bat which will help it get pushed out to that wider audience.

Use The Instagram Collaborator Feature

One of the best tips we saved for last!  If you want to gain more reel views and build a wider audience, then one of the best things you can do is use Instagram’s “Collaborator” feature and create a reel with another Instagram creator.

This is networking in 2023 as far as I’m concerned because you can plug into each other’s audiences, share that person with your community, be shared with theirs, and both of you grow.  It’s truly a win-win scenario, which is why it’s so popular right now on Instagram.

The main thing you want to remember when you’re collaborating on reels is for it to make sense.  For example, we’re a digital marketing agency, so for us, collaborating with a coach, or a social media agency would make total sense.  Collaborating with someone that has nothing to do with what we do, however, would probably be a bad choice.

The goal is to collaborate so that you teach their audience something and they teach your audience something.  When that happens, both audiences will want to go and follow the other person’s Instagram because they see the value in it.

Using the feature also shares your views among both audiences, which means if you both get great engagement, your reel has a really great chance of hitting some big numbers.  The best way to do this is to reach out to people you already follow, send them a DM, and say, “Hey, I’d love to collaborate on a reel if that’s something you’d be interested in.”

You can share your engagement numbers, followers, ideas, etc.  Anything that you think they’d want to know or that would make them more inclined to want to collaborate with you.  Just make sure you state why it’s beneficial to them so that they know it’s not just about you.

Have More Questions?

Instagram has been prioritizing reels for over a year now, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be stopping any time soon.  The quicker you can become great and create reels, the more your account will grow, and the more you’ll be able to establish yourself and your business as an authority in your industry.

If you have follow-up reel questions or would like some help when it comes to creating reels, then book a FREE call with us HERE and we’d be happy to help you when it comes to reels or Instagram in general!