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How to Create Viral-Worthy Instagram Posts

taking food photo for instagram

We all know that Instagram is an essential part of businesses’ social media strategies. With more than 500 million daily active users (or one billion monthly), what brand doesn’t dream of going viral on the platform? When you have a post that goes viral, it’s essentially an opportunity to become “Instagram famous.” Your content circulates the platform (plus other platforms, since it’s usually copied and shared) and suddenly, everyone knows who you are. Moreover, you will have higher chances of turning your page visitors and followers into customers. Then, you’ve really hit the jackpot.

However, with over 1.8 billion photos uploaded daily (excluding videos and IGTV posts), it can be challenging to make your posts the talk of the town as the competition is really high. So, how can you increase your odds of going viral on the ‘gram?

Just to be clear, we’re not saying that you can control going viral or that we can ever guarantee that you’ll be trending. Nobody can force it, and if any marketer promises they can make you go viral, run.

You can, however, create really addictive and juicy content that can potentially catch people’s attention. It’s like stacking the odds in your favor since viral content does indeed have a somewhat unique formula.

Here are six ways to do it.

How to Create Viral-Worthy Content for Instagram

1. Hop on Challenges as Early as Possible

Social media is constantly changing and evolving. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of new challenges that make an appearance.

When we say “challenges,” we’re referring to things like the Mannequin Challenge. Even Hillary Clinton and her staff got in on that one!

As a brand, you have to keep your finger on the pulse and leverage these events just as they’re just starting to go viral. This will help you gain a ton of traffic by showing people you know what’s up and exposing yourself to an audience that’s about to skyrocket.

But here’s the thing we really want to highlight: You have to get in early. Really early. You have to see viral content before it’s fully gone viral. Jump on the bandwagon at that moment and you can sort of ride its coattails all the way to the top. Brands that caught on to the Mannequin Challenge early on, before it really blew up, undoubtedly reaped the benefits of such massive exposure. When you wait until it’s too late in the game, there’s nothing fresh and exciting about the challenge anymore. Everyone’s already done it.

One way to find trends is to regularly check the Explore grid. With over 200 million daily visitors, this tab helps you identify what your followers are raving about. You can look further into the IGTV and Shop grids, or explore different categories like DIY, Food, Lifestyle, Tech, and Travel. Keep in mind that this tab caters directly to your activity, so make sure you’re targeting the right audience to appear on your customers’ Explore page.

Similarly, keep an eye out for hashtags that are used by your competitors, community members, and industry leaders, and ones that are relevant to your target audience. From there, you can get ideas on what’s up and coming and what has the potential to get consumers talking.

Timing is everything here. Keep a close eye on challenges that seem viral-worthy, and you increase your own odds of going viral.

2. Create Your Own Challenge

Online challenges are effective in attracting users’ interests because they want to be a part of them. Instead of (or in addition to) participating in trending challenges, you can try to start your own campaign by incorporating elements of your business.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For a highly-engaging challenge that’s perfect for bringing attention to your cause or upcoming activities, consider doing something similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
  • Do you have a new recipe you want to your followers to try? Start an artsy food or beverage campaign like the Dalgona Coffee Challenge.
  • DIY brands can highlight different creative uses of your products by starting online trends like Bottle Flipping or the Bottle Cap Challenge.

When doing challenges, remember to always stay true to your brand voice. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t go too far or try too hard in an attempt to be socially relevant.

Check out one woman who participated in the #BusyMomMakeUpChallenge by L’Oreal to empower busy moms around the world.

3. Partner With an Influencer

An effective way to bring massive exposure to your posts is to work with influencers who have a substantial following and high engagement with a targeted audience. Influencers can drive people to try out your products and services. They can encourage their followers to engage with you through follows, likes, shares, and comments. Essentially, they can improve your brand awareness, increase consumer trust, and produce content fast.

Take time to research a few influencers who have an audience that’s relevant to your business. You can also consider tapping nano-influencers for a more specific and targeted approach to your posts. Though they may have fewer followers, they might also have better relationships and stronger connections with their community, thus generating higher conversions for your brand.

Instead of having to reinvent the wheel, you work with influencers who can give you access to an audience that’s ready and eager to absorb your content. Don’t just work with any influencer, though. Their branding, message, and aesthetics need to flow with your own. Take the time necessary to form a strong relationship here. One perfect influencer is better than three who are just okay for your brand. Quality over quantity.

When you partner with the right person, you can see a massive boost in your traffic and give your content a better opportunity to go viral.

Tip: e-clincher can help you discover and engage with top influencers relevant to your business.

4. Use Hashtags More Strategically

You don’t need us to tell you that hashtags make your content easier to find, expand your reach, and encourage audience engagement. These raise awareness about your business and increase opportunities for your getting more exposure. More importantly, they give insight into what your competitors are doing and what people say about your brand.

That’s why it’s essential to research which hashtags are relevant to your customers and business before adding them to your posts. Include industry- or brand-specific tags to better reach your market and those who’re intentionally looking for your content.

Consider using branded hashtags that will automatically make people think about you. These are useful when promoting your products, spreading the word about a launch, or simply inspiring your followers.

But wait — this isn’t all.

You can take this one step further. When it comes to hashtags, are you paying attention to how frequently they’re used? If a hashtag has been used tens of millions of times, yes, it’s a popular one! But does that necessarily mean it’s going to bring you the most traffic? No.

We’re not telling you not to use super popular hashtags. Rather, experiment with a combination of very popular ones and more targeted, niche ones. The pool of people using them isn’t as high, but it increases your chances of being seen, because the competition isn’t nearly as high. Check out the hashtags in this post from Sunny Lenarduzzi. Even with how well-known she is, she uses hashtags that aren’t necessarily all that popular — and it works.

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🙆‍♀️ This 1 THING made last month my most productive EVER 👇🏻⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Have I ever told you that I used to wake up at 2:55am? Yup, when I worked in morning TV, I would wake up at 2:55am Monday to Friday and be at work for 4am. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Since, then, I think my body has rebelled against being an early riser. I kinda looked at it as punishment to wake up super early. But, one thing I love more than anything else is SPACE. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I am my most creative when I have quiet time and I find that mornings are my best opportunity to create that space. So, I’ve been slowing working towards earlier starts to my day. I started with 6:45am for a week, then 6:30am, then 6:00am. And holy moly, it has made a massive difference in my peace of mind and productivity. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ I take the first hour of the day to myself and it is the best gift I’ve ever given myself. But, it took some serious mindset shifts and breaking old patterns (SWIPE TO SEE HOW YOU CAN DO THE SAME ➡️).⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ And here’s the thing, I don’t deal well with rules, so the thought of waking up every single day at the same time still doesn’t appeal to me. So, I listen to my body, and I alter my schedule if necessary but my non-negotiable is 8 hours of sleep. I’m just a better human when I get that much rest. As women, we’re not meant to stick to a rigid schedule every single day (look up the infradian rhythm and cycle syncing to better understand why). This post is not meant to provoke perfectionism or punishing your body to do things you don’t want to, I’m not into blanket rules or saying that just because this works for me it’s meant for you. You do you, boo. Just never stop doing everything you can to serve yourself and take care of yourself. You are worth that nourishment. But, committing to an overall earlier start has been nothing but positive for me! ⁣I’m curious, what time do you wake up? Comment below. ⁣⁣ 🙆‍♀️ 📸 pic brings @allypintucci ⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #motivationtips⁣⁣⁣ #morningmotivationmessage⁣⁣⁣ #morningmotivationminute⁣⁣⁣ #morningmotivationalquote⁣⁣⁣ #morningmotivation🌞⁣⁣⁣ #morningbliss⁣⁣⁣ #maketodaycount⁣⁣⁣ #itsanewday⁣⁣⁣ #motivation101⁣⁣⁣ #beingpositive⁣⁣⁣

A post shared by Sunny – Marketing Expert (@sunnylenarduzzi) on

So, as an example, you might use a combination of hashtags that look like this:

  • 2 hashtags with 70,000-200,000 posts
  • 2 hashtags with 200,000-1 million posts
  • 1 or 2 niche hashtags

These numbers aren’t a set rule. Rather, we’re trying to get you to think about using a variety of hashtag types. Test, test, test! You can never truly know what works until you try it.

5. Maximize User-Generated Content

To garner more reach and engagement, encourage your followers and customers to create content that features your products or reviews your services. Taking advantage of user-generated content – by reposting tagged content or sharing them on your stories – will provide an authentic recommendation to their respective audiences and help them make purchase decisions. Above all, it’ll make your followers feel that they’re part of your community.

Oreo likes to post recipe submissions from their followers. (Psst! See how they’re also hopping on the whipped coffee trend? Nice!)

Social media isn’t a one-sided relationship! Invite your audience to be a part of the discussion. Make them active community members, not just witnesses.

6. Get Personal

Social media users are used to being sold to. So, don’t try to sell to them.

Instead, try another approach and give your posts a personal spin for something different, attention-grabbing, and unique.

By showing your fun and adventurous side — and spending a little time not talking business — you can increase your chances of going viral. On top of your products and services, consider sharing day-in-the-life photos of your workplace, pictures of your events and activities, or inspirational images. See if some of your current customers would be willing to record testimonials that highlight their personal experience with your brand.

Feelings and emotions are what help connect us all. If you show your brand’s personal side a little more, people are likelier to relate to you. That’s the kind of content that really resonates.

On a more technical note, for a wider reach and higher engagement, make sure to post high-quality photos with striking and upbeat captions. Alternate your photos with engaging videos, and make sure to supplement your posts with Instagram Stories, Live, and IGTV.

Remember to find the right balance between promoting, selling, and genuinely connecting with your audience. People appreciate authenticity and relatability, so they’re more likely to engage with brands that practice these values.

Start Creating Viral-Worthy Posts Today

Coming up with potentially trending posts can be challenging yet really fulfilling for brands. Remember, nobody can guarantee that you’ll go viral. The goal is to create content that’s far likelier to grab people’s attention. It’s a specific goal that calls for a specific approach.

Keep in mind that these six steps will only work if you truly understand your business goals, your target audience, and your competitors. Similarly, make sure you keep track of your metrics for each post, so you can determine what works and what doesn’t. And when all of these things are done effectively, your efforts will surely help increase your brand awareness, improve customer engagement, and bring about business success.

What other tips do you have for creating viral-worthy posts? We’d love to hear from you. Share them with us in the comments below!