How To Go Viral On Instagram: The Beginner’s Guide

How To Go Viral On Instagram

Are you struggling to gain traction on Instagram? Still waiting for your first post to go viral?

It’s hard to know exactly what makes a post go viral on this platform. Instagram’s algorithm is a closely guarded secret.

But it is possible to increase your chances by following a number of specific tips.

In this post, you’ll find exactly what they are so you can implement them in your strategy. And finally start seeing the results your content deserves.

Ready? Let’s get started:

What does it mean to go viral on Instagram?

A lot of brands don’t consider an Instagram post to be viral until it hits at least 100,000 likes. Does that seem like an impossible number to you? That’s because it’s too broad of a rule to follow.

Viral in your niche may look a lot different than what’s considered viral in another niche. Let’s say you and your competitors only receive around 2,000 likes per post. This means a post that reaches 10,000 likes could be considered viral.

Of course, reaching that 100,000 milestone would be nice. More likes means more followers and more click-throughs depending on the campaign you’re using.

To be more specific, when a post goes viral, it’ll have a lot more…

  • Likes than the majority of your posts.
  • Shares than the rest of your posts.
  • Views from unique users.
  • Activity on Instagram than your other posts. This means it receives interactions much quicker and continues to receive interactions long after activity for the majority of your posts stalls.

What you do with the viral traffic you receive is up to you. If you want more followers, insert a gentle “follow us” reminder at the end of your post.

If you want click-throughs to your website or landing page, you’ll need to use a tool that allows you to create a splash page for links on Instagram. Instagram only allows you to insert a link in your profile’s bio section rather than individual posts.

shorby link in bio tool

Shorby is a great option for this. It’s simple and affordable. We’ve even reviewed it if you want an in-depth look at the tool before you try it out yourself.

As for going viral, we have eight tips to share with you today.

8 tips on how to go viral on Instagram

Tip #1: Research your audience and your competitors’ audiences

Sure, #fashion and #art may be among the top 100 most popular hashtags on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean your content should target them if your niche is entirely unrelated.

Conduct research on your target market via audience surveys instead. These are short questionnaires that allow you to learn more about the type of people that make up your audience, what their interests are and the struggles they’re experiencing in your niche.

More importantly, discover what types of content your audience interacts with most on Instagram by researching your own and your competitors’ analytics. You can learn a lot about the types of content your audience prefers by reviewing yours and competitors’ most-liked and most-commented posts.

Use a tool like Pallyy to analyze your competitors on Instagram. Check out our Pallyy review to learn how it works.

Tip #2: Recreate your competitors’ viral Instagram posts

You should have a decent-sized list of your competitors’ most popular posts after the last tip. You can use this to get a headstart on the type of content that may help you go viral.

Don’t simply copy your competitors’ content outright. Your audiences likely overlap, and they will catch on and call you out on it.

Let some time pass instead. Then, analyze the post to see how you can create something that’s similar but unique to your brand.

For instance, if your competitor keeps going viral for quick how-to videos, come up with a way to create your own short tutorials in a style that’s unique to you.

Tip #3: Recreate viral content from other social media platforms

This is similar to the previous tip, except you’ll research your competitors’ content on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. TikTok is a great place to look as well if your competitors happen to use it.

What you want to do is see what’s working for your audience on other social media platforms, then recreate that content in your own style on Instagram.

Again, don’t simply copy and paste what your competitors are doing. If their most popular YouTube videos are dedicated to reviews on products in your niche, don’t simply review the same products in the same review format.

Find a simpler way to review and showcase products, then turn your content into high-quality images, videos and Instagram stories.

Tip #4: Use your own voice

When you’re a new blogger or a young startup, you likely do your best to maintain a professional image on social media platforms. This may include never mentioning your personal life and speaking only in an anonymous voice (using we, us and ours instead of I, my and mine).

What you may not be aware of is that you can actually do a lot to improve your chances of being noticed on social media by simply showing more of your own personality. You may even increase your chances of going viral on Instagram by getting personal.

Take Bindi Irwin, conservationist and daughter of famed wildlife expert Steve Irwin, as an example. A lot of Bindi’s posts get around 100,000 likes on Instagram with some receiving a few hundred thousand. Posts featuring only pictures of animals receive even less, around 50,000 or so.

bindi irwin instagram post

However, when she took to Instagram to announce the birth of her child, she received an astonishing 1.4 million likes, much higher than her average posts.

The post was accompanied by an image of her, her husband and her newborn along with a heartfelt Instagram caption.

It’s proof that behaving more like a real person on Instagram rather than a marketer does a lot to set you apart on the platform.

Tip #5: Be more active on Instagram

Some marketers are lucky. They barely post on Instagram, and suddenly find themselves going massively viral with a single post.

Others aren’t so fortunate. If you’re struggling to gain traction on social media, try being more active on the platform outside of publishing content.

Respond to every comment users leave on your posts, and use a unique reply every time. Never send canned responses on social media. It’s among the easiest ways to aggravate users as they’re able to see you send the same message to dozens of other users.

You should also become more active with your competitors. It’s an easy way to collaborate on Instagram. Respond to their posts and stories more, and even communicate with their own user comments.

You’ll start to become known to them and their audiences over time. They may even start interacting with your content.

Instagram does a reasonable job at keeping you in the loop with notifications but once your account activity increases, it will get harder to keep track of. A social media inbox tool can help you keep on top of your comments.

Tip #6: Run social media contests on Instagram

This is one of the easiest ways to go viral on Instagram. People love free stuff. Others love participating in competitions.

What you want to do is create a contest specific to your niche and have participants send their submissions via photos or videos on Instagram.

For example, if your blog is about web design, give your audience a challenge. Have them create a single web page that teaches people about the moon. They should submit their photos on their own Instagram accounts. Whoever has the best page design with the best functionalities wins.

Even better, make liking the competition announcement post and following your account requirements for winning.

Just keep the number of competitions you run to a minimum. You don’t want to wind up in a position where they’re the only posts of yours that get any activity.

Here are a few resources to help you out:

Tip #7: Market products on Instagram

This tip is similar to the tip where we recommended posting product reviews to Instagram, except this time we have data on why this type of content works.

Influence Central interviewed more than 400 women who partake in online shopping and found the following data:

  • 82% claim that social media recommendations change the way they research products.
  • 81% claim product reviews influence their shopping habits.
  • 72% prefer to use social media as a way to verify marketing claims about products they’re interested in buying.
  • 57% use images and videos on social media to finalize their decisions. 53% use testimonials while 51% use reader comments.

It’s clear that product marketing is an effective way to receive more activity on social media. You can market your own products or products you’re affiliated with.

Be sure to read StartupBonsai’s guide on writing Instagram captions if you want to increase your sales.

Tip #8: Create niche-specific life hack videos

The study we mentioned in the previous tip produced another piece of data that may help you create viral social media content:

42% of consumers claim life hack content influences their likelihood of buying products and services.

It’s true. Hashtags containing the phrase “life hack” are quite popular.

lifehack hashtag

When you plan new Instagram content, especially content for products, come up with content that solves a specific problem your audience experiences in a simple way.

For instance, apps like Uber and Lyft solve the problem of obtaining transportation in a quick and easy way. However, this is too broad of a problem. You should instead create life hacks that teach your audience how to save on rides, how to find hidden features and more.

Final thoughts

Knowing what content to create is only half the battle. Creating and actually publishing that content is where the true struggles of running a successful Instagram account lie.

Do yourself a favor and create your account well ahead of time. You’ll save a lot of time and guesswork in the future, and you’ll never be without content to post to Instagram.

Social media scheduling tools work great for this purpose. It gives you two ways to schedule Instagram content. It’s also quite affordable for bloggers, and you can even try it for free.

Above all, analyze your content as you go so you can understand what’s working and what’s not.

Related Reading:


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.