The anatomy of a viral Reel

The anatomy of a viral Reel
The anatomy of a viral Reel

Instagram CEO said that more and more people are watching videos (Reels) on the platform, and hence they will prioritize Reels over static image posts.

What does this mean for you? If you don’t create Reels, you won’t grow on Instagram, which is what you want. So, how do you create viral Reels that attract views and followers?

Here are the five key ingredients:

1. Choose the right topic

Most brands/creators create Reels on any topic without doing any research. They don’t consider whether the content will resonate with their audience—and hence get limited reach and engagement.

The solution? Create reels only on those topics that your audience cares about. How do you find these topics?

a) Keyword research

Use KeywordTool to find trending hashtags in your niche.

First, note your seed keyword—keywords related to your industry. For example, if you’re in the digital marketing industry, your seed keywords would be “search engine optimization,” “digital marketing,” “paid advertising,” “content marketing,” “social media marketing,” and other related terms.

Then, select the Instagram icon on the KeywordTool and type these keywords.  

It will give you a list of the most popular hashtags. Note the ones with high search volume and an upward trend. Then, search these hashtags on Instagram and go through the content. You’ll get an idea of what type of content you should create.

b) Spy on your competitors

List the top brands and creators in your industry. Go through their Reel feed and analyze their recent content. Note the topics, structure, and content. Create accordingly.

c) Ask your followers

Poll your followers with the following questions:

  • Which topics should I create Reels more often?
  • Which type of content should I avoid?

This way, you’ll know what to double down on and cut.

2. Create an engaging hook

The first 5-10 seconds of your Reel is crucial to persuade your viewers to watch it till the end and go viral. If you don’t hook them in the first 10 seconds, they will bounce off, and the algorithm will limit the reach.

Here are five ways to create an engaging hook:

a) Take inspiration from your rivals. Go through their feed and note the different hooks they use. You can build on them to grab your viewer’s attention.

b) Start with something that will make your viewers curious, whether it’s what you say or a stunning visual. You can start with a shocking claim/statistic, story, or a joke.

c) Another way is to mention in the first 5 seconds what the reader can expect—so they know whether it’s for them.

d) If it’s a how-to Reel, ensure you show the results first to intrigue followers.

e) Give a sneak peek of your content and then explain the story.

3. Include subtitles to your Reels

Most viewers watch Reels with the sound off—so if you don’t add subtitles, they’ll scroll through your Reel without watching until the end. You should therefore add subtitles to each Reel. Ensure they are placed at the bottom of the video—so your face is visible to your audience.

Here’s an example for inspiration.

Use Veed to add subtitles.

4. Add stickers and special effects

Adding emojis, images, charts, and other visuals engage your viewers and help them to know what you’re talking about. Look at this Reel to see what we mean.

Whenever the speaker says “house,” “car,” or “24 hours a day,” there are pictorial representations of each that pop up. These don’t make you feel bored, and you’re hooked throughout—making it more likely that you’ll watch the complete Reel.

Here's how you can add stickers to your Reels.

5. Write in-detailed captions

The more people stay on your Reel, the more reach Instagram’s algorithm will give it. One of the best ways to ensure people stay is by writing in-detailed captions.

Don’t write the same content that’s in the Reel. Add context to explain why the topic is important, how they should think about it, and link to data and research.

Watch this Reel and then read the caption to understand how to write captions.

Create viral Reels

If you follow these tips, you’ll surely get closer to getting your reel viral. Just ensure, along with following these, you provide value. Your reel should either educate (solve their problems by providing a solution), provide insights (let them know any new information they could benefit from), or make them laugh.

Pro Tip: While uploading/sharing your Reel, select the button that says “Also share to feed.” This way, Instagram will share the Reel with your follower’s feed, and as your followers engage with it, it’s more likely that the virality compounds.

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