How to Adapt Your Organic Instagram Content Strategy for Reels

Ben Bere
December 20, 2022
Instagram Reel icons coming out of a smartphone

Meta as a company has been going all-in on video content on Instagram and Facebook, and it’s changing the game for content generation. Instagram is heavily invested in short term content. With these huge changes to the platform brings a lot of challenges, but also massive potential.

Why are my Instagram posts performing worse than they used to? 

Short answer, TikTok. Seeing the success of TikTok, Meta did what Meta always does, and tried to copy it. After failing with their stand-alone app, Lasso, they decided to build a similar short form video platform into Instagram, Reels. Recently, Instagram has been pushing Reels content hard, taking up most of the feed and the explore page. Now instead of your feed being only posts from people you follow, now it is filled with reels from people you may have never seen before. 

How Can This Help Me? 

Reels are a great opportunity for your company to be seen by a much larger audience than ever before. Your Instagram Reels have the potential to go viral, but only if you know the strategy to it. 

How do I Hook a User? 

You need to be fast. More specifically, you need to grab a viewer’s interest in less than 3 seconds. It probably took you longer than that to read the first 2 sentences of this paragraph, but those 3 seconds are crucial. A study from Facebook shows that 45% of people who watch the first 3 seconds of a video will continue to watch for at least another 30 seconds. Watch time on your videos has a huge impact on how many people Instagram will push your video to.  

To grab attention, you can use a variety of techniques. If you are showing off a product, show off the “wow factor” right away. You could also ask a thought-provoking question that can hold their interest long enough that they might give your video a shot.  

How to Make Content People Will Watch? 

Embrace Simplicity 

Where many brands are failing in both organic and paid short form video content is that it comes off as “too corporate”. When a Reels user is swiping through their feed, and they see something recorded professionally with a fancy camera and a set, they immediately think it’s a company trying to sell them something, and so they swipe past.  

The best way to create content that is comfortable for viewers is if it’s made the same way any Reels user would create it. You should record your videos with a cellphone. Avoid doing any edits that are too fancy if you choose to use editing software outside of the Reels platform.  

Follow Trends 

 The best way to do this is to like and follow many of your competitor’s pages (preferably on a separate, personal account) and engage with their videos, leave comments, like, and watch them in full. Reels algorithms will learn what videos are related to the topic(s) you are interested in, and then show you more of that type of content from a variety of sources.  Then you can use that competitive research to see what trends are working, and what you can use in your videos to ensure your posts hit the explore page. 

 Take Advantage of Hype 

Feed off of content that is made about your product or company. When a viral post is praising your product, take advantage of it.  
When TikTok user Carly Joy shared her experience using eos’ shave cream, they saw 25x as many orders, and 450x as many website visits as they were used to. They then created a limited-edition product named after what Carly said in her video.  

When a bored Target employee made a TikTok video claiming to be holding a misplaced target shopping cart hostage that went viral, both Target and Walmart joined the trend, starting a playful “shopping cart war”

Keep it Snappy 

Don’t leave any “dead air” in your videos, keep it snappy, to hold the ever-shortening attention span of your viewers. Reels can be up to 90 seconds, but that doesn’t mean the videos should be 90 seconds long. Often the best performing videos are 15 seconds or less. 

Use Hashtags 

Hashtags help your Reel be found by relevant users. You can find competitor pages, or related pages in your niche to get hashtag ideas from by searching with hashtags. You can often find an active hashtag for your niche by searching for something more general. If you sell trucks, you could search in #truck, and all the posts that use that hashtag will appear. You will often find that people will use multiple hashtags in their posts. When you find a post that better relates to what content you make, you can then look at what hashtags they use. You can then click on their hashtags to see what hashtags are the best fit for the type of content you create. 

How to Make Engaging Reels Organic Content 

By default, when a user opens the Instagram app videos are muted, and they have to tap an unmute button to unmute them. Some users just scroll through Instagram without headphones in. You need to adapt your content so that it is accessible to users who only play videos on mute, as well as users with headphones. There are a few ways to make your content visually engaging. One way you can do this is adding large subtitles on screen that go along with your video. Another way is to have a video that doesn’t need audio to be understood. A great example of this is Dude Perfect, a page that is known for making trick shot related content.  

You can test if a video is visually engaging by watching your video without sound, which is sometimes referred to as the “over the shoulder test”, because if a video is interesting to somebody watching it over your shoulder, then it’s a very visually engaging video.  

Of course, you also want to make your audio engaging too. This can include whatever audio goes along with your video, added sound effects, and you should add a trending audio, which is always a great way to give your videos a boost in views. 

How Do I Choose a Sound for Instagram Reels? 

 The best way to find relevant sounds that are trending is to scroll through your explore page and take note of what sounds are popping up on videos that are doing well. You can also look at other pages in your niche to see what they’re doing.  

When looking at a competitor’s page for ideas of trends, one thing you need to keep in mind is the very short life span of trends on Reels. Usually, trends tend to lose steam after they have been popular for a few weeks, although some will last longer. When looking at competitor pages, try to look at their most viewed videos in the last few weeks to find what trends and sounds are worth participating in. 

When is the Best Time to Post Instagram Reels? 

When you should post for Instagram Reels is highly dependent on your audience. Any time of day, there will be an active audience on Instagram, because they have users all around the world, so you need to suit it to fit when your audience is most often online. The best way to track this is with a Professional Account. 

How Can I Set My Account to a Professional Account on Instagram? 

  • Go to your profile and hit the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of your screen. 
  • Tap ‘Settings’ 
  • Tap ‘Account’ 
  • Tap ‘Switch to Professional Account’ 
  • Tap ‘Continue’ 
  • Select a category for your business 
  • Select ‘Done’ 

What Information Can I Get From a Professional Account? 

There is a lot of information you can get from your Professional Account that can help you tailor your posts to your audience. If you go into your Professional Dashboard, which you can access from your profile, and then tap ‘See all’ next to your Account Insights, then you can access information about who views your posts. 

In this section you can see how many accounts you have reached/ engaged with your posts, and you can see where they’re from, what gender they identify as, and their age. You can also often see what times they are most active on Instagram. It is best to post at the beginning of when they are most active, or slightly before to reach the greatest amount of your followers, so that it can also be pushed to people who don’t follow you.  

Can I Just Repost my TikToks onto Instagram Reels? 

Yes and no. The content and cultures on both platforms are very similar, and content that performs well on TikTok would typically perform well on Instagram Reels as well, but Instagram disincentivizes reposting TikToks with the TikTok watermark by limiting their reach. You can, however, download your TikToks without the watermark, and upload them to Instagram. 

How to Save TikTok Videos Without a Watermark 

On the video you want to download, hit ‘share’, ‘copy link’, then paste your link into SnapTik. Then you can download it from their website without needing to download any apps or software, with the watermark removed.  

The Best Way to Discover Trends for Reels 

The best way to find winning trends for Organic or Paid marketing on Reels is to look at what other people are doing. On Reels, you can do this by having an account where you only use it for competitor research. On this account, you will like content that is related to the niche you’re in, and you should also comment, share, and save these videos so that you make it clear to Instagram that you are interested in seeing that type of content. The more you do this, the more competitor videos you will see. This is great because the videos that will show on your explore page will also be videos that are performing well and may use strategies that could be useful to you. 

Another great source of inspiration is the TikTok Creative Center. Instagram Reels and TikTok have similar content, so you can use what is trending on TikTok as inspiration for Reels. On the Creative Center, you can see Hashtags, Sounds, Creators, and Videos that are trending on TikTok. You can also top performing advertisements, which can still be a useful resource for organic content, as ads that perform well often are made to look and feel like an organic post. You can sort these to see videos with the best 3 second watch rate to see ads that have effective hooks, for example. 


Instagram Reels has a steep learning curve compared to Instagram photo posts, but it has potential to take your social media marketing to the next level if you play your cards right. So many companies are still learning the ropes of short-form content marketing, and there is no time like the present to learn and take advantage of the viral potential. 
We specialize in integrating multi-platform digital advertising strategies. Get in touch with our team and partner with us to grow your brand presence on Instagram.