Last Updated on April 2, 2021
Having a post go viral on Instagram can boost your account exponentially. Your followers and engagement rate will increase and with a larger audience, you have a much higher chance to grow your brand, sell your products or services, or gain new clients. But how do you go viral on Instagram? How do you create such a viral post on Instagram?
I am sharing how I managed to go viral on Instagram with one post and grow my account by 4,000 followers in 1 WEEK and by 10,000 followers in 3 WEEKS!
One Viral Post Alone Grew My Account by 4,000 Followers in 1 Week and by 10,000 Followers in 3 Weeks!
Given the many algorithm changes, it seems almost impossible to grow your Instagram account and get good engagement. Trust me, I have struggled to grow my account, but I also know how fast you can grow when one of your posts go viral on Instagram.
The good news is that there is a strategy to set yourself up for success and have your posts go viral. There are three simple steps that help you go viral on Instagram:
- Post Viral Content and Use Instagram Reels
- Have High Engagement Right After Posting
- Post Consistently and on Brand
These three steps are a great strategy to focus on to go viral on Instagram. I will break down the strategy for each of these three points so that your posts can go viral. Please note that this strategy won’t make all of your posts go viral overnight. It is a strategy that will pay off over time and with some luck, you can have posts go viral on Instagram as well and grow thousands in 1 week!
Table of Contents
Why You Want to Go Viral on Instagram
Going viral is not all about the likes, comments, and views. It creates a large increase in followers which can in turn help you increase traffic to your website, increase sales, and help you land future partnerships or collaborations.
How many followers can you gain from a viral post? That really depends on the post and how well it reflects your brand. If it is right on brand and you post similar content, the viral post can create a large increase in following. I had 2 posts go viral on Instagram and grew my account by 4,000 followers in 1 WEEK and by 10,000 in 3 WEEKS!
Growing your account on Instagram takes a lot of work and time. The fastest way to grow your account organically is by having your posts go viral. But how can you go viral on Instagram? This might sound super difficult to accomplish but it may not be as hard as you think.
There is a strategy you can follow to increase your chances of having a post go viral on Instagram. This strategy includes three simple steps which I will explain in detail.
Post Viral Content
How can I go viral on Instagram? Posting viral content is the most important part when it comes to having a post go viral on Instagram. This may sound obvious and yet it is probably the most difficult thing at the same time. How are you supposed to know what content will go viral? If you knew what content would go viral on Instagram, you would have already posted it!
There are a few strategies that can help you create more viral content and have your posts blow up on Instagram.
Find Content That Is Already Viral
One of the easiest ways to come up with viral content is to look at what is already viral. If you see that certain posts perform incredibly well for other accounts, chances are that a similar post might perform for you as well.
The concept is very similar to opening your own pizza place for instance. You already know everyone loves pizza. There are already many successful pizza places out there and if you can create a great pizza, chances are that people will buy your pizza as well.
Of course, the goal is not to copy anyone’s work. It is completely okay to be inspired by other creators, but I highly recommend you put your own spin to your content and always make sure you credit your inspiration in your caption. As an example, if you find that one post with a specific pose performed well for another account, you can try to use the same pose in a different location with a different outfit.
The same goes for videos. If you see that a specific type of video is performing well (behind the scenes, dance video, etc.) for other people in your niche, come up with similar videos and they will likely perform.
It is important that you always keep your own voice and stay true to yourself. If you are for instance in the travel niche but are creating a viral food post, the new audience you are reaching might not be interested in following you as your viral content does not align with your usual posts and they really would be looking to follow an account that always shows food posts.
Find Viral Content in Your Niche on Instagram
Look at other accounts in your niche and see which posts get 2x-3x their average engagement. These are posts that spoke to their audience and reached people outside their audience by likely showing up on the explore page. If you are in the same niche and have a similar following, chances are that a similar post would perform for you as well and could go viral on Instagram.
Find Viral Content Using Viral Findr
A tool that is great for finding which posts did well for other accounts is Viral Findr. You can analyze any Instagram account you like and sort their posts by highest engagement, highest views, most comments, etc.
You can sign up to ViralFindr for free and start analyzing profiles and find out what content went viral. The platform allows you to export your results in .csv files so that you can save them and access them anytime.
Find Viral Content on Other Platforms
Look at other social media platforms to see what is viral out there. If a certain type of video content goes viral on TikTok, it is likely going to be popular on Instagram as well.
Participate in Trends and Challenges
Another great way to go viral on Instagram is to participate in trends and challenges. You have probably seen multiple viral dance challenges, fitness challenges, and other trends on TikTok already. Challenges are something people love to see and will watch again and again. They are also more likely to save your content which in turn helps you go viral. Simple challenges without using a lot of props are a perfect way to get a lot of views and potentially go viral.
Following trends can also be incredibly helpful when creating viral content. If there is a certain item that’s incredibly trendy, a song or audio that is trending, or anything else you have seen over and over again in other people’s content, try to incorporate it in your content as well. This is especially true when it comes to creating videos. If you use trending songs or audio, your video is more likely to go viral as your audience likely already knows the song and recognizes it.
Visit Instagram Famous Places
Similar to following trends and using trending songs in your videos, creating content in already famous places can help you go viral on Instagram. The theory behind it is relatively easy. People are generally more interested in content if they recognize it from somewhere else, have been there personally, or are emotionally touched by the content. They will generally spend more time on your post and engage more if it is a place that they have heard of or been to.
You can post an incredible photo from a remote lake in the U.S. and while it might be beautiful, most of the time people won’t stop scrolling when they see your post because they don’t recognize where it is. If, on the other hand, you post a photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you are more likely to capture people’s attention.
Paris is one of the most visited destinations in the world and everyone knows the Eiffel Tower and is either dreaming of going to Paris or has already been there. As a result, they are more likely to comment on your post or save your post if they are thinking of going there and want to remember the best places and angles to take photos from.
Creating content of Instagram famous places can certainly help to capture your audience’s attention and go viral. That being said, not every location works for every account. For example, many creators have gone viral by posting content from Bali. This won’t guarantee that your photo from Bali will go viral on Instagram as well, but there is a higher chance that it will.
Create Behind the Scenes Content
As much as everyone loves to see beautiful photos in beautiful places, people love to see the behind the scenes of how a photo came together. Sharing the process of how a photo or video was created is something that captures the attention of a large audience and can easily go viral on Instagram. This is especially true if the outcome was unique and the photo/video is relatively unusual.
The most viral behind the scenes content are in the form of videos but you can also share behind the scenes content in photos and upload them as carousels so that people can swipe from the final photo to how it was created.
Another very popular type of content is sharing how you edited your photos. Having a before and after editing photo captures the attention of your audience as they are curious what the photo looked like prior to the edit. The more people stay on your post and look at your photo, swipe, or otherwise engage with it, the higher the chances that your post will go viral on Instagram.
Create Surprising Content
Another great way to capture people’s attention and making sure that they engage with your post is by sharing controversial or surprising content. This doesn’t need to be anything dangerous or crazy, but photos or videos that include something out of the ordinary will generally perform better. Examples are wearing a fancy dress in a surprising location, wearing clothes in a pool, or playing with reflections and turning your photo upside down.
The reason why these kind of posts tend to do better is because the viewer is caught by surprise and will stay on the photo longer or re-watch the video to understand what is really going on. Depending on how out of norm your content is, you can get a lot of comments questioning the content and the reasoning behind it. These comments might not be the nicest to read but they certainly boost your engagement which ultimately boosts your post.
Make sure you always follow the Instagram community guidelines to make sure your post will not be taken down afterwards. And of course also make sure you don’t put yourself in dangerous situations just for a photo. No photo is worth risking your life.
Use Instagram Reels
Instagram just recently launched their newest feature – Instagram reels. Reels are short videos, either 15 or 30 seconds long, and are Instagram’s response to the increasing popularity of TikTok. Creating video content can be intimidating and it is a lot to learn. However, if you want to grow on Instagram and go viral, Instagram reels are your best bet!
People have a short attention span. If you want to create a reel that goes viral, make sure you use a trending song and keep your video short.
Since Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok, they are pushing reels to all of their users so that they use Instagram rather than TikTok. For content creators, this means that if you create a reel, Instagram is more likely going to show it to your audience and a new audience compared to a photo because it wants people to watch more videos on the Instagram platform.
If you want to create a reel that goes viral, make sure you use a trending song and keep your video short. Most people don’t have a long attention span and get bored very easily. It’s important to capture their attention in the first 1-2 seconds and wow them in the rest of the video.
It is crucial for the algorithm that viewers watch your entire video and preferably watch it over and over again. If a viewer decides to skip to the next video before your video has ended, this will indicate to the algorithm that your video is not worth showing to other viewers.
Boost Engagement Right After Posting
The single most important thing after posting viral content is boosting your engagement on the post. The more people engage with the post, like it, comment, save, watch it multiple times in case of a video, or swipe to see the other photos in case of a carousel post, the more likely the post will be pushed by the Instagram algorithm and shown to a larger audience.
Boosting engagement sounds easier than it is though and many times, getting a lot of engagement right after you post may seem difficult. Here are some tips on how to make sure you can maximize your engagement on Instagram and have a viral post.
Post When Your Audience Is Active
A simple thing to do is to post when your audience is active. Since your audience already follows you and is probably going to like your post and engage with it, posting when your audience is active is the best way to getting high engagement right away.
If you have an Instagram business or creator account, you can easily find out at what time your audience is most active by looking at the audience insights. You can find the times under Insights > Audience > Most Active Times (scroll at the way to the bottom of the audience insights).
One thing to keep in mind when thinking about posting times is what time zone your audience is in. If your audience is based in Europe and in North America, the best posting time is likely a time when both audiences are awake, i.e. the evening in Europe is also morning in North America. Since everyone’s audience is different, you can test which time of the day provides the highest engagement by posting at different times.
Try posting in the morning (before people go to work), around noon (when people are on lunch break), and in the evening (when people are off work) and compare the engagement over a few posts to see what works best for you.
Create a Good Hashtag Strategy
Having a good hashtag strategy and great views can really help you push your post and increase your chances of having a post go viral on Instagram. Hashtags are a great way for people outside your audience to find your post and hopefully follow you.
Use Relevant Hashtags
It is important to use relevant hashtags in your posts – rather than any hashtags. The reason is very simple. If you are looking for a new spring outfit and you come across a pizza recipe post, you are likely going to scroll past that post and ignore it. If you use relevant hashtags, you make sure that your posts are being shown to people when they are looking for exactly your type of content.
Use Hashtags With Between 10k – 100k Posts
Use hashtags which have between 10k – 100k posts. If you use very large hashtags, for instance #love, your post will appear on the recent section in hashtags for a few minutes only before it gets pushed down by newer posts. Your goal is to remain in the recent section of a hashtag for a while but using hashtags that have enough search volume.
Make Sure None of Your Hashtags are Banned
Before posting your post, make sure none of the hashtags you use are banned. Hashtags can get banned if other accounts post unsuitable content. The way the Instagram algorithm is set up, the algorithm will detect when a hashtag is used to post a lot of unsuitable content and it will block the hashtag.
Every subsequent post that includes this hashtag is being blocked from being seen in that banned hashtag and it is also not shown in any other hashtags. This means that even if you accidentally have one banned hashtag, your post will not be shown in any hashtags at all which will severely reduce your chance of going viral.
You can check if your hashtags are banned by looking up each hashtag individually or you can check Kiksta which includes a list of the most commonly used banned hashtags.
Engage Your Audience with a Call to Action
So you created a viral photo or video to capture people’s attention and have the perfect hashtags lined up to reach a large number of accounts. But how do you get people to engage with your content? How do you get your audience to comment on your post? While it is relatively easy to like a post, commenting takes a lot more time and there needs to be an easy call to action for others to react.
Ask a Question
The best way to get people to react to your post is by asking a question in the caption. People love talking about themselves and sharing their experiences. Asking about their preferences, their favorite food, or their favorite sport in emojis is a great way to engage your community.
Motivate People to Swipe on Carousel Posts
If you are posting a carousel post, it is always a great idea to let people know what the other photos/videos in the carousel entail and motivate them to swipe. Asking which photo they like best is a great way to engage your audience and make sure they swipe through your carousel.
Ask to Tag Someone
A third great way to get your audience to engage with your content is to ask them to tag someone who they would want to do visit a place with or do a certain activity with. Simple statements like “tag your best friend” or “tag someone you would go for brunch with” will engage your audience. On top of an engaged audience, your post is also more likely going to be seen by the person who was tagged in the comments which can increase your reach.
Engage with Other Creators in Your Niche
For your Instagram post to go viral, you need a lot of engagement in a short amount of time – preferably right after you posted. In addition to making sure you post at a time when your audience is active, make sure you engage with other creators in your niche around the same time when you post.
If you comment on another creator’s post right when it went live, they will likely see your comment right away and might go to your profile and comment on your latest post. As a general rule, it is best to set about 1 hour aside when you post in order to engage with other creators in your niche. You can start engaging with other content 30 minutes before you post and for 30 minutes after posting. It helps if you focus on new content, i.e. posts that have just been published as the creators are likely online at that moment and engaging themselves.
The more engagement you get in the first 5-30 minutes after you post, the more likely it is that your post will go viral.
If you are posting reels, the first 30 minutes might give you some indication on how well the video will perform. However, there are also several videos that go viral on Instagram or TikTok a week or more after being published.
Post Consistently and on Brand
Creating viral content and boosting your engagement right after you post are the most important aspects of going viral on Instagram. Another point that many creators tend to forget is that you need to post consistently. Most accounts don’t go viral with one post but they may have hundreds of posts before one of their posts go viral on Instagram. This should not discourage you to create. The more posts you have in your feed, the more people are likely to follow you when they see one of your viral posts.
As an example, if you see a viral post on the explore page and click on it only to find that the account has just a handful of posts, you may not stay on their account for very long as there is not much content there and you may not follow them. On the other hand, if you find an account on explore and then scroll through their profile and find hundreds of great posts, you are more likely to follow them.
Post Multiple Times per Week
When you are trying to grow your account and work on having your posts go viral, make sure you post multiple times per week. A general rule of thumb for growing on Instagram is to post between 5-7 feed posts per week and if you can post reels, post at least 3-4 reels per week.
Since Instagram is pushing reels at the moment, posting viral reels with trending music, popular challenges or in famous locations is the best way to go viral on Instagram and grow your account.
Post Content on Brand
Similar to posting regularly, it is important that your posts are on brand. If you see a great post of a pizza and are interested in following a pizza account, you may not end up following the account if you notice that the account really is all about gardening.
Posting viral content that is on brand is extremely important to maintain a high retention rate. You want to make sure that the people who find your viral post and your account on Instagram will find more of the same content on your profile. Since they are already interested in the one viral post, chances are they are also interested in all your other posts if they are in the same niche.
Find Out What Your Audience Likes
If you don’t know what type of content you should be posting, find out what your audience likes. That way you can make sure you create something they will find entertaining and will engage with.
One way to find out what your audience likes is by testing several different types of content and seeing how well the content performs. If you are a travel blogger but are not sure if your audience likes beach or city photos better, test both types of content and see what performs better. You can easily access all your post insights on Instagram directly by going to Insights > Content You Shared > Posts. You can sort the posts by highest reach, engagement, likes, comments, and many other metrics.
Another way to find out what your audience likes is by directly asking them in Instagram stories why they follow you and what content they would like to see from you. Instagram stories offer amazing tools to create pools and question boxes so you can get a great understanding of what people who follow you are looking to see.
Implementing these three strategies and posting viral content consistently will make your posts and your account go viral. When you post viral content, it is only a matter of time until one of your posts will go viral and your account will grow exponentially. These strategies are what helped me go viral and grow 4,000 followers in 1 WEEK and 10,000 followers in 3 WEEKS! With a post that goes even more viral, it is entirely possible to grow even more.
Have You Had a Post Go Viral on Instagram? What Are Your Biggest Struggles on Instagram?
Have you had any of your posts go viral on Instagram? If so what type of post was it? And if not, what are your biggest struggles on Instagram? Let me know in the comments below!
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