So you want to know how to go viral on Instagram. Chances are you’ve seen the benefits viral content can have for brands. And you want that same success for your own business. But going viral can be hit and miss if you don’t understand how it all works.
Therefore in this article, we’ll share our tried and tested tips for going viral. Then you can enjoy the benefits that come with instant popularity.
- What Qualifies as Going Viral?
- 12 Strategies to Help You Go Viral on Instagram
- 1. Understand Your Audience
- 2. Create a Unique and Creative Voice
- 3. Develop a Striking Aesthetic
- 4. Like, Comment, and Engage With Other Content
- 5. Review Your Competitors Posts (and Borrow Ideas)
- 6. Leverage Analytics to Learn What Works Best
- 7. Run Viral Instagram Contests
- 8. Focus on Photos Over Videos
- 9. Link Posts to Current Events
- 10. Partner With Influencers in Your Industry
- 11. Boost Your Post Reach With Paid Ads
- 12. Create a Consistent Posting Schedule
But first, what does going viral mean for Instagram accounts?
What Qualifies as Going Viral?
Going viral on Instagram means posting content that rapidly spreads through the platform and is shared quickly by thousands of Instagram users. While that’s pretty easy to understand, how to actually “go viral” is a more difficult concept to grasp.
There aren’t any benchmarks or thresholds for deciding when content achieves viral status. And there’s a number of factors involved to consider including:
- The number of shares a piece of content has
- How many likes the post gathers
- The number of unique users it’s reached
- How quickly the content is consumed
- The amount of link clicks a post has
- …and the overall lifetime of the content
As you can see it’s complicated figuring out if your post on Instagram has gone viral. Usually, we know something is viral when we see it in our social feeds. So it’s pretty relative.
But there is a general idea of how many hits you need to go viral.
How Many Hits Do You Need to Go Viral?
To go viral on Instagram you need at least 100,000+ likes and views along with thousands of comments even if your account only has a few hundred or thousand followers.
But achieving that benchmark isn’t easy. You need so many other things working in your favor. Yet the key to it all is how much your followers engage with your content.
How Do Instagrams Go Viral?
The majority of Instagrams go viral through increased engagement. This means you have to do everything you can to encourage and boost engagement fast.
The idea is that a big push in engagement will force your post onto Instagram’s Explore page, which makes it even easier for people to discover and view your posts.
12 Strategies to Help You Go Viral on Instagram
With these factors in mind, the following tips and tricks will help you achieve viral status on Instagram.
1. Understand Your Audience
Like with any content marketing strategy, getting to know your audience on Instagram is crucial to creating viral content. You need to know what makes your followers tick, what their interests are, and the type of content they interact with the most.
The easiest way to understand your audience is to create a buyer persona. A marketing or buyer persona clearly defines your ideal audience so you can quickly determine their interests.
Your persona should include the following details:
- Annual income
- Education level
And specifically for Instagram, it’s good practice to include the type of content they like to consume and the Instagram accounts they follow.
With this information in hand, you’ll be better prepared to create the type of content that’s relevant to your audience.
2. Create a Unique and Creative Voice
The best viral content on Instagram has a unique voice and a clear point of view. Combine this with stunning images and you’ll have the ideal recipe for a viral Instagram post.
Andrew Knapp has perfected this with his modern take on “Where’s Waldo”. His feed focuses on his border collie in a fun game of “Find Momo”.
Andrew takes followers along on Momo’s journeys and uses the hashtag #momomeditations to describe Momo’s thoughts for the trip.
With this kind of creativity, it’s easy to see how his profile has taken Instagram by storm.
3. Develop a Striking Aesthetic
But creativity goes hand-in-hand with a unique aesthetic and theme for your posts. Striking images have the power to send your content to the top posts section. And getting there results in even more engagement with your content.
A good Instagram aesthetic has a consistent theme throughout all posts. You can achieve this by using the same set of filters, or photo backdrop.
Or you can take a leaf out of Ida Skivenes’ book by building a look around the content of your images.
Ida uses her talent with food art to recreate popular scenes.
What really stands out about her feed is how she’s created a consistent look throughout each and every Instagram post. And this is what has helped her achieve massive amounts of engagement.
Further Reading: 16 Instagram Story Giveaway Ideas (and how to Create One)
4. Like, Comment, and Engage With Other Content
While we’re on the topic of engagement, it’s vital you interact and engage with your Instagram followers. Instagram is a social network so the focus should be on being social.
Get involved by liking other posts. And leave thoughtful comments about why you enjoyed the content. But don’t make the mistake of posting half-hearted comments and replies.
One word and one emoji comments are an indication of bot engagement. And this can drive people away from your account, rather than encouraging them to learn more.
So engage with your followers, but keep it relevant and thoughtful.
5. Review Your Competitors Posts (and Borrow Ideas)
One of the easiest ways to make your Instagram posts go viral is to study what other successful accounts do. There’s no rule saying you can’t borrow ideas and use them in your own content. What’s working for them, might work for you also.
But don’t copy and paste other people’s work because you’ll risk copyright infringement. Instead, make a list of the elements that get the most engagement.
Successful elements to jot down might be:
- Clever use of images
- Interesting post captions
- How often they post to Instagram
- Their posting times
- The hashtags they use
- Who they tag or mention
- Their particular type of humor, etc.
You can then compare this list to the persona you created for your audience earlier. And use the elements that overlap with their interests and preferences.
6. Leverage Analytics to Learn What Works Best
You can also look into your Instagram analytics to find out what content works best for your followers. Insights, as they’re known on Instagram, provides detailed information on your follower demographics.
Take a quick look at the information you can learn:
- Age range of followers
- Follower gender
- Follower locations
- The times your followers are most active
- How many likes you receive for a post
- The number of comments each post gets
- How many impressions a post receives
Here’s an example of how you can use this data.
Let’s say you published a post at 7 pm but got very little engagement. A quick glance at when your followers are most active might highlight that most of your followers don’t use Instagram at that time. They’re more active at around 9 pm.
So instead, you could experiment with posting around 9 pm with the hopes of reaching those people when they’re active.
7. Run Viral Instagram Contests
Another way to tap into the viral power of Instagram is to run a contest or giveaway. Running a contest is a great way to get the engagement boost you need to quickly go viral.
Take a look at the ready-made template to grow your Instagram following for example.
It comes with pre-built actions to increase engagement and visibility on Instagram.
And if you combine this with the viral refer-a-friend action and entry methods of your own, you can get your post in front of even more eyes.
But let’s not forget you also need a great prize for the lucky winner. The best prizes are items people desire, which encourages them to click and enter.
8. Focus on Photos Over Videos
Videos are all the rage on social media so you might be tempted to use them excessively on Instagram. But truth is, photo content on Instagram gets 36% more engagement than video.
So if you want to create a piece of super viral content, you’re likely better off sticking to images rather than video to get the best results.
9. Link Posts to Current Events
It’s much easier to create viral content on Instagram if the topic is already trending in the news. Current events are at the top of peoples’ minds, so posts relevant to those events will resonate more with your audience.
To take advantage of this, you could coincide your product launch with a current news event. Or even show real-world examples of your product being used in a way that’s trending.
Nike, for example, created a video paying tribute to the many faces of Kobe Bryant in “Mamba Forever”. The video generated over 1 million likes, resonating with millions of fans.
10. Partner With Influencers in Your Industry
Something else Nike does with great effect is partnering with influencers to market their brand.
By getting celebrities and influencers to use their products, they not only raise awareness but also cement themselves into their sphere of influence.
We totally get that you don’t have Nike’s marketing budget, but it’s a good example of how you can work with influencers to drive interest to your Instagram account and hit viral status.
Take Sweat and Tell for example. This is a micro-influencer account that’s formed a community of health-focused women. Their posts review workout classes and routines, raising the awareness of the brands they work with.
11. Boost Your Post Reach With Paid Ads
Social media marketing statistics show that over 2 million advertisers are active on Instagram. And that’s because many brands understand that Instagram users are more likely to engage with sponsored content there than on any other platform.
Therefore if you’re interested in creating viral Instagram content, you should consider paying to promote your posts and increase your reach.
And this isn’t just for the bigger brands either. Instagram accounts of all sizes do this to improve the chance of going viral.
But how much does it cost to go viral?
It doesn’t cost much to go viral on Instagram. Most engagement methods are free to implement.
But if you’re using paid ads, expect to pay an average of $0.50 – $1.00 per click. If your industry is a competitive one, such as beauty or fashion Instagram ad costs can reach up to $3.00 per click.
12. Create a Consistent Posting Schedule
Our final viral tip for Instagram is to ensure you have a consistent posting schedule. Planning and scheduling posts ahead of time, helps you manage what’s going out, and when.
This means you can time the publishing of posts for when your followers are most active to maximize engagement. And it also prevents rushing out last-minute posts, so you can keep your content high quality.
Unlike Facebook, you can’t directly schedule posts to Instagram. But there’s a range of social media marketing tools available to help schedule your content outside of the platform.
And if you’re wondering when the best time to post on Instagram is, we’ve got that covered below.
Wednesday is the best overall day to post on Instagram. Then you can break it down as follows:
- Wednesday at 11 am and Friday at 10–11 am.
- Tuesday through Thursday from 10 am–3 pm for the most consistent engagement.
And that’s it!
Now you know how to go viral on Instagram by using the crucial ingredients detailed above. All that’s left is for you to put it all together and create your own recipe for viral content success.