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20 Ways To Get More Views on Instagram Reels (These Work!)

Want to know how to get more views on your Instagram Reels? We’ve got 20 can’t-miss tips to to help you rack up the big numbers.

Colleen Christison January 18, 2024
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Want to know how to get more views on Instagram Reels? Stick with us, kid. We’re giving out free social media advice that doesn’t involve black-hat techniques (we look better in white, tbh), get-rich-quick schemes (tried, failed), or snake oil (not good for the snakes).

We’re breaking down the best practices social media managers, creators, and Instagram pros use to get those reel view gains! Do what the experts do, and you’ll pump up your watch numbers au naturale.

This inclusive guide tells you exactly how to get more views on Instagram Reels using twenty tried-and-true methods.

Bonus: Download the free 10-Day Reels Challenge, a daily workbook of creative prompts that will help you get started with Instagram Reels, track your growth, and see results across your entire Instagram profile.

What counts as a view on Instagram Reels?

Before we dive into how to get more views on reels, you first need to know what counts as a view. Instagram has a couple of rules, which we’ve outlined below.

There are also a few black-hat baddies out there that will promote paid hacks on how to get your reels seen, but buyer, beware. It may not be worth it in the end.

The three-second rule

Despite many sources claiming Instagram reel view counts happen instantaneously (like TikTok), Instagram only counts views after three seconds. Your viewer can’t click away before the three-second mark, or else it didn’t happen. The takeaway from this is to make your first four seconds engaging. Give your viewer a reason to stick around.

Replays: What are they worth?

Instagram only counts the first few views per user. So, you can’t use your friend’s account to watch your reel a hundred times over to bump up your views.

Watching your own reels

You might be thinking of ways to hack the system, like racking up your own views by replaying your reels. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t make it that easy. Viewing your own reels won’t register as a view.

Is buying views worth it?

Paying your way to social media stardom doesn’t often net the results you want. Believe us, we’ve tested it by buying Instagram followers.

So, while buying views may seem worth it, there’s usually a catch. Often, these views are provided by bots that can’t engage with your content otherwise. These black hat techniques can put your account at risk of being banned. They also skew your data, so you can’t use it for any actual insights into your content.

If you’re trying to build an audience or monetize your content, buying them isn’t the answer to how to get views on reels.

20 ways to get more views on Instagram Reels

1. Make your first few seconds count

As we mentioned above, you need a minimum of three seconds of attention for the view to count.

There are a few tricks you can take to make sure people stick around for that magical four-second mark. Start in media res by jumping right into the meat of the video; people don’t want a long lead-up to the good stuff.

You can also promise your viewers a surprise or a treat of some kind at the end of the video to keep them interested. On a totally unrelated note: if you read to the end of this blog, you’ll get a recommendation for a hashtag AI tool that can predict the tags your audience will respond to!

2. Don’t hide your content in your Reels tab

Once you share your video, it will automatically be stored in a separate Reels tab on your profile.

If you want it to appear on your main profile grid (and trust us, you do), you also have to share it to your Feed. This is one of the easier answers to how to get more views on reels—just toggle a button.

Doing this increases the visibility on your reel. You can choose a custom thumbnail for your video so it doesn’t mess up your grid aesthetic. The reel will show up like a normal post, with a reel icon in the top right corner. Hootsuite Instagram Reels shared on feed

3. Do keyword research

Keyword research isn’t just for websites and blogs anymore. Your social media algorithms use a similar set of rules to Google’s search algorithms, as every digital platform has the same goal: To keep the user using the platform.

It stands to reason that you can use SEO to better your reach on social, and that starts with keyword research on your social platform. Keyword research can also help to inform your content. If you’re stuck on what kind of reel to make, take a look at what your audience is searching for and the search terms Instagram suggests.

Take a look at the experiment we did on how traditional SEO tactics impact social media success. You can straight-up copy the TikTok methodology we used, which is step 2 in the how-to guide, and use it on Instagram.

4. Be specific with your captions

Pay attention to keyword placement by top-loading your sentence with your target keywords. Also, don’t stuff your captions with keywords. Social caption writing should follow the same rules as long-form SEO and be written for a human audience, not a machine’s algorithm.

You can find a few other easy ways to tackle social SEO here.

5. Use keywords in your script

By the way, social media algorithms aren’t just crawling written text. It’s likely Instagram takes into account your audio, too, when pulling keywords. YouTube certainly does.

Make sure you’re frontloading your script with your target keywords, then peppering them throughout your reel for maximum results.

Of course, all of this SEO-algorithm-talk helps if you understand the Instagram reels algorithm.

6. Use keywords in your on-screen text, too

Much like crawling your audio for keywords, Instagram’s algorithm is going to look at the text written on your reels, too.

We do need an algorithm disclaimer, too. While we can’t be 100% certain about how the Instagram algorithm works, we know it doesn’t hurt to optimize your reels.

7. If you use text, make sure it’s easily read

It can be tempting to throw up some wildly flashy words on your video to grab attention. But if it isn’t easy to read your text, your viewer is going to click away. You never want to make someone work through a confusing visual or complex narrative.

You want to make it as easy as possible for people to get what you’re doing. So, follow accessibility standards for text on the screen, make it left-aligned or center-aligned, and keep it short.

8. Use subtitles

You can increase your reel’s reach by making it accessible to all users, including those hard of hearing, Deaf, or watching your video with the sound off. Instagram has made it simple to add subtitles to any video with a sticker.

9. Write alt text

Speaking of accessibility, adding alt text to your reel will make it enjoyable for users who are visually impaired. And alt text has the added bonus of giving you another area to integrate your keywords.

10. Use trending audio

Trending audio is a surefire way to get your videos on more people’s screens. Using popular tracks signifies to Instagram’s algorithm that other people who also like that audio will like your video, too. Then, the platform serves your video to those people.

Bonus points if you can make funny, seemingly unrelated audio make sense with your brand. Looking at you, Trish!

11. Create content with your audience in mind

Yes, creating for your audience is one of the universal best practices for increasing social engagement, but it has to be said over, and over, and over again because it’s that important.

Don’t mix narratives on your branded channels. If you create content that exclusively features horses being clowns, don’t switch to content about what you’re making for dinner. Give the people what they want: Ridiculous horse content!

The reason for this is that people like predictability. When they followed you, there was a silent agreement. The audience agrees to follow you so long as you keep creating the content they initially signed up for.

The moment you change tracks, you’ll start losing views. Unless it’s an incredibly compelling or entertaining video. There are exceptions to every rule, of course.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to create the same video repeatedly. You can also do brand-adjacent content, like horse ASMR (to jump on trends) or content closely related to what your audience is already liking, like other funny farm animals.

12. Engage with like-content

Engage with other brands within your niche by leaving thoughtful or funny comments on their content. You could attract their audience to your channel. And, if Instagram sees your account as active and interactive, it may show you off more in your target audience’s feed.

13. Embed reels on your website or blog

Your website, including your blog, is another potential touch point for reel views. By embedding your content in your site, you’ll present your reels to a potentially new audience.

Plus, embedding your content looks very polished, you social media pro, you. Check it out:

14. Experiment with length

While longer videos give you more room for storytelling, shorter videos may hold your audience’s attention spans. It’s best to experiment with video length to see what your audience enjoys.

Analyze your data with a solid amount of both long and short videos to see what duration is the most popular. Be sure to keep testing over time.

15. Post when your followers are online

Obviously, you want to post reels when your audience is already online so they interact with your post right away. You don’t have to depend solely on Instagram analytics to see when the best time is. Hootsuite’s best-time-to-post feature pulls your data for you and suggests an optimal posting schedule.

Hootsuite Best times and days to publish

Source: Hootsuite

16. Experiment with boosting

Organic posts can truly only take you so far. You’re going to want to boost your popular reels for maximum exposure. And FYI, boosting reels that are already doing well is a better use of your budget than trying to force poor-performing reels onto your audience.

17. Share reels to your Story

You want to have your reel plastered on as many surfaces as possible. When you publish a reel, share it on your Story, too. This way, your reach will be as far and wide as possible.

18. Run a contest or giveaway

Contests or giveaways are a tried-and-tested method of gaining video views. Offering people some sort of prize for a low-barrier entrance fee, like following your account and tagging a buddy, can net you high reel views.

19. Use your data to inform your content

Taking a deep dive into your Instagram Reels analytics can help inform your reel content strategy. And it will give you valuable insight into your overall social media performance.

Take a look at your most-viewed reels. What did you do for those that you can repeat? Do all of your top-viewed videos follow a pattern? Or maybe they’re all on the same trend or subject? Try to emulate the content Instagram Insights says is working.

On the flip side, take a look at the content that flopped. What happened here? What do people definitely not want more of? Failed reels have value, too. And if you’re really embarrassed about the poor performance, here’s how to hide views on reels on Instagram.

20. Don’t forget about hashtags

Hashtags are one common best practice for how to get more views on Instagram Reels. But simply throwing a bunch of #randomwords out there won’t do you any good. Instead, you can use SEO tactics and your keyword research to strategically inform your hashtags. Or, you can Hootsuite’s automatic hashtag generator to do the work for you.

Hootsuite automatic hashtag generator on new post

AI generated hashtag suggestions #recordshopping #supportlocal #newarrivals

Source: Hootsuite

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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