Instagram Reels have skyrocketed in popularity, with over 50% of Instagram users accessing Reels each month. As an influential part of the Instagram algorithm, creators are searching for new hacks to make their Reels stand out.
As a social media marketing expert with over 5 years of experience running Instagram campaigns, I‘ve experimented extensively with Instagram Reels features. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share 15 powerful Reels hacks I’ve used with clients to significantly boost views, accelerate growth, and take influencer marketing programs to the next level!
1. Hook Viewers Within 3 Seconds Using Psychological Triggers
The first 3 seconds of your Reel are critical. With 50% of users churning after just two seconds, creating an effective hook should be top priority.
I advise tapping into psychological concepts that compel the human brain – especially emotions of surprise, humor, and awe. For example:
- Greet enthusiastically with “Whoa, check this out!”
- Pose an intriguing question like “What flavor should I try next?”
- Show eye-catching visuals (cute animals, beautiful scenery)
These mental triggers spark interest fast, enticing viewers to stay put. I recently helped a client revamp her opening, focusing on humor and curiosity in her plant care Reels. The improvement doubled her average view duration!
2. Strategically Remix Trending Content
Instagram’s relatively new Remix feature facilitates Reel “duets”, an engaging way to put your spin on viral content.
I monitor trending topics daily and help clients pinpoint relevant viral moments to Remix. Ways they successfully connect:
- React humorously to hot takes
- Demonstrate products/services improving pain points called out in news or rants
- Show behind-the-scenes workflow in response to consumer questions
This allows creators to tap into built-in demand from trending content while highlighting their unique value. During a recent airline public relations crisis, a client launched a Remix Reel with their exceptional customer service process – which attracted 200,000+ views!
3. Save Time With Pre-Made Templates
Constantly developing new Reel concepts from scratch can become tedious over time. Instead, take advantage of Instagram’s ever-growing selection of templates!
Their templates provide convenient starting points around cooking, fashion, DIY, and more. I advise clients to browse new additions regularly. Identify relevant templates that best display their products, services, or personality.
Then simply personalize with your own content! This perfectly blends existing high-performing formulas with a customized touch.
For example, a travel client used a “Pack with Me” template, swapping in their own gear. That Reel became one of their most-watched ever!
4. Creatively Employ Text Tools
Text often plays second fiddle to visuals, but Instagram’s tools transform static words into vibrant, eye-grabbing role players.
I love leveraging text in unexpected ways to deliver key messages uniquely, reinforce branding, and inject personality.
Powerful text strategies include:
- Spotlight important phrases in bold colors
- Reinforce tips, product features, etc by displaying text in real-time
- Embed layer words/phrases over b-roll or images for artistic flair
- Use exclamation points to echo enthusiastic vocal tones!
Sprinkling fun text approaches throughout cuts clutter while highlighting crucial elements in helpful, on-brand ways.
5. Exploit Trending Hashtags Through Daily Research
Incorporating hashtags growing rapidly in your niche provides a signal boost, displaying your Reels to untapped potential audiences.
My team and I invest 5-10 minutes daily researching and documenting top-performing hashtags to integrate organically within client Reels. I advise combing niche hashtag feeds, Competitor pages, and Instagram’s Trend Report.
Monitor for tags seeing surges in engagement or usage. Jumping on those trend waves expands visibility beyond just existing followers.
For example, a fitness client incorporated #postworkoutmeal, a tag gaining momentum around post-gym eating habits. That quickly became one of her most viewed Reels ever thanks to the expanded reach!
6. Grow Faster Through Micro and Nano Influencer Partnerships
Collaborating with the right influencers represents rocket fuel for your Reels strategy, creating pre-baked audiences for your brand overnight.
But forget mega influencers – instead, focus efforts on micro and nano influencers. These are creators with just 1,000 – 50,000 highly-engaged followers.
Research shows influencer engagement dramatically declines over 100k followers. So partnerships below that threshold drive more impressions and sales per follower.
I help clients identify ideal micro/nano collaborators in their niche via manual hashtag research or my trusted influencer platform. We then co-create Reels fusing our audiences, reminds them of shared interests, and forging an authentic connection.
This expands your brand’s reach exponentially versus just your owned channels!
7. Maintain Posting Cadences Through Advanced Scheduling
Consistency matters – creators who post daily or several times per week see best results long-term.
But filming, editing and publishing quality Reels demands substantial time. I advise scheduling content calendar-style to preserve consistency amid busy schedules.
- Map out ideal posting dates/times
- Input captions, hashtags, tags in advance
- Upload future Reel drafts directly from your camera roll
- Enjoy automated publishing per your pre-loaded calendar!
This removes last-minute scramble stress. Combining planning plus automation means you always have captivating Reels ready right when your audience needs them!
8. Design Clickable Thumbnails That Stand Out
In the high-velocity Reels feed, a compelling thumbnail can determine if you get that precious click.
When reviewing Reels prior to posting, always visually scan what static preview image Instagram selects from your video footage to showcase ahead of hits play.
This helpful tool previews your Reel’s auto-generated thumbnail too!
I guide clients to double check images nail these elements:
- Prominently displays logo, brand colors, fonts
- Central focus on key product, service, or post theme
- Ample negative space eliminated around edges
- Bold graphics/text contrasting cleanly from the background
Fine-tuning thumbnails into something instantly recognizable and visually striking gives you an upper hand over more generic imagery zipping by.
9. Boost Brand Recognition Through Custom Audio
Consistently using ownable audio is an unsung Reels win. Composing a memorable 1-3 second branded song, slogan, or sound effect for regular incorporation makes your content instantly identifiable.
Do you tend to open videos with the same quirky jingle? Or close using a specific musical motif? Layer these memorable tunes across multiple Reels glue together a polished, professional channel.
Instagram also simplifies saving sounds for ongoing reuse too. Simply tap the sound icon on any Reel, then choose “Save Sound” to easily access it again later down the road!
10. Embrace Vertical Videos
Let’s address one of the most basic yet overlooked Reels best practices: flip your phone and shoot vertically!
Vertical videos thrive on mobile Reels feeds. Viewers scroll through content in portrait mode already. Composing footage that fills their entire screen (no awkward horizontal letterboxing) creates a smoother viewing process from the first frame.
While this shift towards vertical formats represents bigger mobile video consumption trends, many creators still default to horizontal framings. Flip your camera for mobile-first success!
11. Redistribute Reels Into Your Main Feed
Don‘t keep your captivating Reels siloed just within the designated Reels tab! Insert them directly into your Instagram feed as well.
Embedded Reels maintain video motion as followers scroll the grid, catching eyes amidst otherwise static posts.
I suggest adding a compelling caption that incentivizes visitors to click through and watch the full Reel – maybe a link, special offer, or content preview.
Sprinkling awesome Reels throughout your main profile provides refreshing taste for your audience while expanding your best video content further.
12. Build Intimacy Through Strategic Voiceovers
Voiceovers allow creators to get personal through audio, conveying emotion, humor and insider access beyond on-screen visuals alone.
Rather than basic narrating, craft voiceovers that offer exclusive value viewers can’t glean elsewhere. Types of intriguing voiceover approaches include:
- Detailing “behind-the-scenes” challenges/funny moments
- Sharing quick pro tips or niche fun facts
- Pointing out subtle video elements easily missed
- Adding humor! Laugh-out-loud funny always performs well.
This “inside baseball” commentary helps the audience feel like part of your inner circle. Listeners become invested in your brand story arc when treated to those insider details.
13.Immerse Viewers Through Cinematically-Inspired AR Effects
Augmented Reality (AR) effects represent some of Instagram‘s most eye-popping, immersive tools – able to overlay fantastical elements into authentic real-world footage.
From superimposing virtual objects into physical spaces to dramatically altering appearances, AR effects can transport viewers into exciting new worlds without leaving home.
I‘m constantly on the lookout for cutting-edge AR effects tied to clients‘ niches we can incorporate for maximum wow-factor. For example, a recent client creates skill-building courses for Instagram experts. We identified an on-theme AR lens turning her into a floating apparition surrounded by pulsing posts – mimicking magical mastery over the Instagram app!
Tap into AR’s limitless potential by regularly browsing new effects or taking advantage of Spark AR to create your own custom lenses tailor-made for your brand.
14. Showcase Authentic User-Generated Content
User-generated content (UGC) represents profoundly influential social proof. Raving testimonials, relatable engagement photos, candid reviews – this organic third-party content directly from your actual followers packs immense authentic clout.
I advise clients to monitor relevant UGC daily across social listening and branded hashtag feeds. When stellar examples surface, seek repost permission!
Then creatively splice these real customer moments into native Reels as glowing endorsements. Maybe demo a product in action alongside their UGC clip – or have client express gratitude for the love through on-screen text or voiceovers.
This unscripted advocacy and vulnerability fosters immense consumer trust and connection.
15. Continually Optimize Based on Performance Data
The best aspect of digital content? Identifiable metrics revealing precisely what resonates most with your audience – then tailoring future content accordingly!
Instagram Insights dishes several insightful data points allowing us to pinpoint top-performing Reels themes and formats. I examine which videos score highest for reach, engagement rate, viewership, retention and more.
These learnings directly inform content planning moving forward. What stylistic elements or topics saw previous viral traction? Let’s expand on those in fresh ways! Did certain videos flop? We reassess why and course-correct.
It’s a constant listening game – with your audience’s interests steering the ship rather than guessing blindly. This fine-tuning ensures fans consistently receive captivating, on-brand content handcrafted just for them!
As Instagram‘s algorithm favors Reels more heavily, now‘s the perfect time for creators to fully embrace short-form vertical video.
Implementing even just a handful of the hacks above can rapidly accelerate growth, engagement, and visibility. As you identify what resonates most powerfully for your unique brand and followers specifically, keep optimizing and expanding on those strengths!
Stay open-minded trying new things too. Both data-driven and experimental approaches reveal untapped opportunities. Soon you’ll be leading the pack as a Reels rockstar!
I’m Mike, veteran social media marketing strategist and Founder of Reels Results Agency. Let me know in comments if any other Reel hack questions!